Most everyone who’s been to Mineral Wells knows about the Baker Hotel because you can see it from miles away. And many have seen the Hollywood-style Welcome Sign up on the mountain. Both are pretty unusual in their own rites.
But when your downtown boasts a massive sign that says, “Home of Crazy”, you have to expect to see some truly weird and quirky things. You’d be in luck because we definitely have them.
I Like Big Bobbers And I Cannot Lie
Yup, you read that correctly. Bobbers. Great big, red and white fishing bobbers. And not just one, but three!
Number 1 on our tour takes us to the first of the three bobbers at Trophy Bait and Tackle. Find yourself heading to Possum Kingdom Lake for some fishing and you’ll surely want to make a stop here for some bait. And maybe a little photo op. They’ve put the “big catch” on display for inspiration.
If you’re heading south on 281, keep your eyes open just after you pass the river. These big ol’ bobbers have drawn the attention of many passersby who just couldn’t resist taking a selfie. The family who bought the property had no cattle but lots of fish so they named it “Fishcamp”. And with a name like that, of course they needed to make some great big bobbers to post at the entrance.
While the property is private, the owners welcome your selfies. In fact, they even have hashtags for you to use — #IGotABigBobber and #SantoBigBobber
Smarter Than Your Average Bear…and Bigger Than Your Average Sights
Bear sightings in Mineral Wells are rare. Okay, let’s be honest. We don’t have bears here at all. So having Yogi Bear take up residence in town certainly counts as unusual.
The stories abound as to his origin and we finally got to the bottom of the pic-a-nic basket…er uh…story. But you will never guess who told us how Yogi Bear first came to Mineral Wells. Go ahead, guess.
Santa lived on the property when Yogi Bear first pulled into town and he helped Yogi get settled in. We sat down with him and he told us the whole story.
Since there are so many stories about Yogi’s life in Mineral Wells, we thought it would be fun to tell the story by playing a little game of True or False.
True or False
TRUE or FALSE: There used to be a Jellystone Park in Mineral Wells and Yogi Bear stood at the entrance.
Santa says…false: There was nevera Jellystone Park in Mineral Wells, though Yogi did come from one in New Braunfels.
TRUE or FALSE: Yogi Bear has been stolen twice and one of the times was discovered riding on a trailer with his foot sticking out from under the tarp.
Santa says…false: Yogi was stolen only once by some guys from Baylor University. He was later found leaning against a fence on the way to Possum Kingdom Lake. You can bet that after Yogi made his way back home, Santa and his friends made sure no one would be able to take off with him again. Think 8-foot pipe, rebar, concrete, and welding. Who knew Santa could weld?
TRUE or FALSE: Boo-Boo used to be here, too.
Santa says…true: One Christmas, there was an inflatable Boo-Boo.
Speaking of Christmas — you’re going to love this — once made costumes and decorations for Yogi Bear. For his first Christmas, the theme was Cowboy Christmas. Santa made Yogi a cowboy hat, boots, chaps and a corral of stick horses and covered wagon.
For Independence Day, Santa turned Yogi into a Lady Liberty with a red, white, and blue tablecloth-robe, a torch in his hand, and spikes on his hat.
While the property is private, Yogi Bear is easily visible from the road. Please do not try to enter the property without permission.
Rub a dub, dub
Number 3 on our list is The Laumdronat. No, we didn’t misspell that. But the strange spelling of the name is only part of what makes this an unusual stop.
What makes The Laumdronat worth a stop on our tour of crazy, weird, and unusual things to see? Well, let’s just say that doing your laundry here should count as extra credit for your history class because it’s packed with sudsy history. In their Washing Machine Museum, you’ll find antique washing machines, wash boards, wash tubs and a few other finds from days gone by.
Still wondering why they spelled the name that way?
Simple. To get your attention.
Here are some fun stories about the Washing Machine Museum.
Guinness Book of World Records: World’s Largest Cedar Rocking Chair
Just south of I-20 on Hwy 281 in the middle of almost nowhere, you’ll see a huge-o-mongus rocking chair that stands 25-feet, 10.5-inches tall. The Star of Texas Rocker is quite a sight to see and standing in front of it will quickly make you feel very small.
The chair was made by Texas Hill County Furniture & Mercantile which has its own sawmill on the property. After you’ve properly admired the record- winning chair and taken lots of photos, you’ll want to shop the mercantile and then grab a bite of award-winning barbecue at Natty Flats Smokehouse.
Just a couple blocks from Downtown Mineral Wells, Natty Flats Smokehouse has a second location and a second rocking chair. It’s not nearly a as big as the record winning rocker in Lipan, but you can actually sit in this one. Then stop inside for some ice cream or old-fashioned candy.
Pronto-Lax to the Rescue
It isn’t often you see a laxative memorialized in a 10-foot statue. In fact, this may be the only one. Anywhere. Ever.
In the early 1900s, Ed Dismuke, a druggist in Waco, suffered from an ailing stomach. His doctors told him there was nothing they could do and recommended he prepare for the end. Not willing to accept that answer, he began researching a cure. That search brought him to Mineral Wells where he drank as much mineral water as he could hold. Shortly after, his stomach was cured and he never again sought treatment from doctors.
Believing the curative powers of the mineral waters, the apothecary opened the Famous Mineral Water Company. He quickly became one of the top sellers of the mineral water and soon began developing other health-giving products from the waters. Pronto-Lax was one of them.
The old statue still stands at Famous Water Mineral Water Company and the rest, as they say, is history.
Where it All Began
Admittedly, there isn’t much to see here, but you can’t talk about crazy things to see in Mineral Wells without talking about where it all began. This stop brings you to the Crazy Well.
While it isn’t the first well in Mineral Wells, it is the well that started this whole “crazy” moniker for our town. You see, in the late 1800s people came here to drink the water because it helped with different physical ailments.
As the story goes, a woman who was thought to be crazy — possibly suffering dementia — started hanging out at this well all day drinking the water. After a time, people began noticing she wasn’t so crazy anymore, so they started calling it the “Crazy Woman’s Well.” They later dropped “woman’s” and it is now known as the “Crazy Well.”
The well is still there under the Crazy Water Hotel, though all you can see is the well cover at the northwest corner of the building.
For a Little Culture…and we do mean little
Mineral Wells is home to some crazy art and artists. From building-sized murals to teeny-tiny prints. While there are murals all over town, there’s only one place you can find teeny-tiny prints. And they’re free!
Bryton + Co. DIY Studio created the Crazy Small Art Gallery that greets all who walk the downtown sidewalk. The gallery is complete with tiny little guests sitting on tiny little benches, admiring the tiny little art on the tiny little walls.
And the best part — you are welcome to take an art piece you love or create and leave an art piece you make. They even provided small canvases upon which to create your masterpiece.
If you take a photo of this fun little attraction, make sure to use their hashtag —#CrazySmallArtGallery
X Marks the Spot
Numbers 8 and 9 on our tour are both murals. And not just any murals. They’re interactive!
When creating the concept for the Goodnight-Loving mural, artist Joelle Bolt designed it to appear as if the famous cattlemen were riding in from the hills to a watering hole in downtown Mineral Wells. The trick is to stand in just the right spot so the mural lines up with the mountain behind it.
Another fun tidbit. The man kneeling to get a sip from the stream (photo on right) was modeled after city councilman, Doyle Light.
Kokopelli meets Van Gogh at the Baker Hotel. Just a couple blocks down the road, you’ll find our next interactive mural. The Baker hosted many a famous musician in her day, but Kokopelli wasn’t one of them. But that didn’t stop artist Autumn Wraight from putting jazz instruments in his hands in this mural. And Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” makes a beautiful backdrop for the Grand Old Lady.
While there is a lot going on in this mural, that’s not the interactive part.
If you look at the top of the mural, the artist left off the top of the Baker’s bell tower. But if you walk around the parking lot a bit, you’ll be able to line the mural up with the actual Baker Hotel bell tower in the background.
*Mineral Wells is home to more than 20 murals. If you’d like to explore them all, you can download the map here.
When Pigs Fly
You’ve probably seen flying pigs before, so what’s the big deal? Well, they mean something to locals. You see, for years people said, “The Baker Hotel will be reopened when pigs fly.”
It’s true. The 14-story, historic hotel stood empty for nearly four decades and the situation looked more and more bleak with each passing year. Most of the 997 windows were broken, the ceilings and ornate moldings were crumbling, graffiti replaced beautiful art on the walls, and there were even cacti growing out of the terracotta tile roof. It would take a miracle to bring her back to the grand hotel she once was.
Still, there were many who believed in the impossible. And in June 2019, their faith was rewarded when it was announced the hotel had been purchased and the $65 million renovation would begin immediately.
A local group, Leadership Mineral Wells, was raising funds to restore another piece of Mineral Wells history. They purchased a large flying pig and charged $5 to sign it. Though the signatures are fading, the pig remains at Coffee & Cocktails @ 76067 as a bit of a “told ya so” to those who didn’t think the Baker would ever be saved.
Since then, the owners of Coffee & Cocktails @ 76067 have also commissioned a mural of flying pigs on the back wall of the patio.
Where There’s A Will, There’s A Way
You’ll need your hiking shoes and plenty of drinking water for this one.
Tucked away beneath the canopy of trees a little less than halfway up the east side of Lake Mineral Wells are several rock formations and slotted canyons. While the whole area is magical, there is one tree that makes this a must see.
Among the narrow canyon openings stands a cedar elm tree reaching above the tops of the sandstone canyon walls. What makes it unusual is how it stands on exposed roots as if on its tippy toes to get as high in the air as possible.
*Another fun find down in the hollow is a rock formation that looks like the face of a monkey. This one might require a little imagination. 😊
The State Park Hosts Guided Hikes throughout the year. See their schedule here.
You can also download their map here.
*Thanks to hiker/photographer, Robbie Randall for the incredible angle on the tree.
Save the Baker Cacti!
Yes…this one fits the “crazy” category.
Remember back on stop #10 when we talked about the cacti growing out of the roof of the Baker Hotel? Well, locals really developed a fondness for them. And after the Baker Team (locals’ affectionate name for the investors that purchased the hotel and began restoration) made the big announcement, locals began to worry about the fate of the cacti. In fact, a few were so concerned, they created a Facebook Group in to rally support.
The group didn’t gain much momentum, but the Baker cacti were indeed, saved. On May 27, 2021, a team from Clark Gardens Botanical Park carefully removed the cacti and gave them a new home in the Cannon section of the Historic Tree Trail. (“U” on the map)
You can download a map of Clark Gardens Botanical Park here.
If all goes well, plans are to rehome part of the cacti to the new Let’s Grow Crazy Community Gardens.
Everything is Bigger in Texas
This one isn’t in Mineral Wells, but it is in Palo Pinto County and we thought the World’s Largest Wheelbarrow was worth a mention.
Coming from the Metroplex, the drive out to Possum Kingdom Lake State Park can feel really long. When you finally get to Park Road 33, it seems like the halfway point even though there are only 16 miles to go.
But when you see the World’s Largest Wheelbarrow, you know you’re almost there. In fact, you’re only three-quarters of a mile away from the entrance to the state park. It’s a fun little roadside stop that has a mention on TripAdvisor.
In 2015, our larger-than-life wheelbarrow lost it’s official title of “World’s Largest” when an even bigger one was built in Boke, Germany. So… how about “Nation’s Largest Wheelbarrow”?
Because it can be a little tricky to find — unless you’re actually headed to the state park — we’re including the GPS coordinates here: 32.843746, -98.581883
While the property is private, Yogi Bear is easily visible from the road. Please do not try to enter the property without permission.
You can probably see all these crazy stops in a day if you don’t spend much time at each spot. Or, you could make a weekend of it so you can really enjoy your visit.
Want to see what else is happening while you’re here? Check out our Weekend Happenings Page.
Don’t forget to download and print the map before you come out!