My friends at Roadside America (www.roadsideamerica.com) are celebrating 20 years on the World Wide Web today (September 1, 2016.)
I have actually been using their site since the beginning and over the years have submitted stories, updates and photographs from my travels to the 50 United States and parts of Canada.
There are many travel sites on the web, but this, in my opinion, tops them all!! If there is a quirky, offbeat, unique roadside attraction on the back roads of America, chances are you can read about it and see photos on its site.
I am honored to know one of the founders and to work with these guys!
This is a tale of Two Towers – both in a place named Paris, but one is in Tennessee and the other in Texas. The map below shows that they are about 8 hours away from each other.
There are seventeen towns in the U.S. with the name of Paris (and one in Ontario, Canada as well — and I lived there for a while). I have been to Paris in Kentucky, Tennessee, Texas, Idaho, Illinois, Ohio, and Missouri. But the towns of Paris, TX and Paris, TN are the only ones to have an Eiffel Tower that is fairly large. Paris, Michigan has a smaller one. And there are a couple of other places, such as Atlanta, Austin and Las Vegas that have them…. but I am focused on the Paris versions. See this page for a list of NINE replicas around the world.
I took a road trip to Galveston in June 2014 and along the way I had occasion to pass through both of these towns named Paris (Paris, TX and Paris, TN) and capture their versions of the Eiffel Tower. (I’ll have some posts about my trip through the state of TN, MS, LA, TX, AR, MO and some of the unique places I visited coming in August 2014).
Both of these towers were built in 1993 and a battle ensued for the tallest. At first, the Tennessee version of the Eiffel Tower was originally built in 1990 at Christian Brothers University, but was later donated to the town of Paris, where is was moved and reassembled. The tower was designed to scale by Tom Morrison, professor emeritus of civil engineering; Jim Jacobs, assistant professor of mechanical engineering; and Roland Raffanti, engineering lab technician, from Christian Brothers University. According to Brother Patrick O’Brien, Morrison designed the model’s design based on the original drawings of Gustave Eiffel. At 60 feet tall, the tower is a nearly perfect 1:20 scale replica of the original.
The Eiffel Tower in Paris, TX Texas’s was built by the Boilermakers 902, a labor union representing workers of the former Babcock and Wilcox Paris Plant, and was 65 feet tall.
In 1998 when Tennessee moved its’ tower to Paris they expanded their tower to 70 feet. But, the Texans wouldn’t have it. They made the claim of being “The second largest Paris in the World,” so in 1998 town boosters added a large red cowboy hat to the top of the 65 foot tower, which made it a tad taller than Tennessee’s tower.
Both are dwarfed by the massive Eiffel Tower replica in Las Vegas, but in the battle of the American Paris Towers, currently, the Texas version holds true to things being bigger in Texas….
Throughout my time as a travel blogger I have had the opportunity to correspond and exchange notes with many other travel bloggers who are also find of the offbeat and quirky. One of those with whom I have worked with often is Tui Snider, from Azle, Texas.
Tui is a freelance writer and travel blogger specializing in offbeat sites, overlooked history, cultural traditions, and quirky travel destinations. Her articles and photos have appeared in BMIbaby, easyJet, Wizzit, Click, Ling, PlanetEye Traveler, iStopover, SkyEurope, and North Texas Farm and Ranch magazines, among others. She also wrote the shopping chapter for the “Time Out Naples: Capri, Sorrento, and the Amalfi Coast 2010” travel guidebook. Unexpected Texas is her first book.
First off, I am honored to have been asked to be a part of her “Blog Tour” and to help interested travelers find another valuable guide for seeing some of the more unusual and fun parts of our great country. (Also, some lucky viewers will won some nice prizes….see below for details!!) I have had a chance to peruse this book and it is really chock full of splendid places on back roads you never heard of. Having traveled 1000s of miles of Texas backroads myself, I know that this will likely be Tui’s first book, but not last, on the wonders of Texas.
Some of the places, such as the Paris, Texas Eiffel Tower that adorns her cover are places I have been.
For Tui, travel is a mindset. Her motto is “Even home is a travel destination,” and she believes that “The world is only boring if you take everyone else’s word for it.” She has worn a lot of hats in her life – literally – and is especially fond of berets. Her first book, “Unexpected Texas” is a guide to offbeat and overlooked places within easy reach of the Dallas – Fort Worth region of North Texas.
Tui provides a nice overview of the quirky, offbeat and even scary places around north Texas, sharing often overlooked travel tips for places within a day’s drive of Dallas and Fort Worth. Some of the quirkier chapters include details on how to visit the:
Gravesite of an alleged space alien.
Courthouse displaying an embalmed lizard in a velvet-lined casket.
Statue of Jesus wearing cowboy boots.
Museum commemorating the lynching of Santa Claus.
Life-sized wax replica of Da Vinci’s Last Supper.
Building made entirely of salt.
65 foot tall Eiffel Tower replica.
Petrified wood cafe.
World’s smallest skyscraper.
Only Michelangelo painting in America.
Personally, I have driven hundreds of miles of roads in Texas and visited over 100 cities and towns, including a few of the places Tui covers in her book, such as Mineral Wells and the famous Douglas Hotel, where it was rumored that Bonnie and Clyde had stayed numerous times. I have also been to the Fort Worth Stockyards, Granbury, Denton, the Fossil Rim Animal Park and more. But I have barely scratched the surface in terms of the number of places Tui details in this great book!
As an author, Tui now has a page of her own on Amazon
You can also find Tui all around the web. Feel free to drop by and say say hi: