WATCH: Americana Rules! Inside The Best Little Carnie Museum In Louisiana
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I love Americana. The Big Ball of String versus the Largest Ball of Twine? Yes please! Every state has its oddities and awesomeness. Texas has The Beer Can House in Houston, Washington has the ginormous Milk Bottles in Spokane, California has the Cabazon Dinosaur statues, Oregon has the largest Paul Bunyon statue and Louisiana has… the Abita Mystery House.
On the road from New Orleans, LA, to Biloxi, MS, is the small town of Abita Springs, where John Preble set up his popular and odd roadside attraction, the Abita Mystery House.
The entry to the Abita Mystery House.
Open for over 15 years, the “Mystery House” - also known as the UCM Museum, is a maze of buildings, starting with a vintage gas station (now a gift shop - more on that later), a hot sauce house that is home to every kind of hot sauce in the world (supposedly), and an exhibition hall which houses miniature small town scenes that poke fun at traditional Southern life including Mardi Gras parades, UFO landings, alligator wrestlers, Carnivals and more.
But the real precious items are in the House of Shards - where real live carnival exhibits, once seen on the road and believed by millions to be genuine artifacts are on display.
The original Merman!
Mixed in with a huge “Bassigator” (a fearsome looking half bass, half alligator animal that needs to appear in a SciFi movie stat), and a “real life UFO landing!” that consists of an airstream trailer with aliens plotting world destruction on the inside, are the old time fortune telling booths. Pop in a quarter and you get your fortune - which usually exhorts you to spend more money, naturally.
Leroy has some serious chompers.
While most people would take these items with a grain of salt and a whole dose of folklore, others don’t. During my visit, John, a 74 year old man from the area walked in - and 25 minutes later walked out shaking his head.
“I ain’t ever been there before and never seen anything like that place,” he said. “I never knew those things existed! That gator with all those feet!”
“I’m not sure they do,” I said. “I think it’s a museum of odd things…” (I didn’t want to burst his bubble).
“Sure is odd! Wow!” he said, shaking his head and walking away.
The 32 foot alligator!
Beyond the awesomely odd taxidermy and the imaginative scenes recreated by Preble and some other local artists, perhaps the best thing about the Abita Mystery House - besides the extreme taxidermy, the alien recreations and the hot sauce museum - is the gift shop. Full of everything you never knew you needed, the gift shop offers such things as the Johan Sebastian Bach and Charles Dickens action figures, Shakespearean insult bandages, terrified movie theater patron action figures and so much more. See below:
Yes, I bought this.
Because everyone, even squirrels, need underpants!
For those of us who have always wanted man hands!
Sallie the dancing croc!
Just chilling with my new alien friend…
So if you ever find yourself traveling the roads in south east Lousiana, make sure you stop on by the Abita Mystery House, have yourself a great time and tell John Preble I said “hi!”
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