Mount Horeb Trollway – Mount Horeb, Wisconsin - Atlas Obscura

Mount Horeb Trollway

Mount Horeb, Wisconsin

Bypass decorated with large wooden troll carvings. 


The town of Mount Horeb, Wisconsin, is known as the troll capital of the world. The entire town embraces this unique designation and, as such, Mount Horeb draws many tourists to the area. They’re always looking to check out the troll sculptures, purchase troll-like gifts and paraphernalia in shops, eat at troll-themed restaurants, and more.

The sculptures displayed in the photos above, created by Wooden Chicken, are carved from solid wooden logs measuring, usually, 12 to 16 feet in length. Because they are buried below the frost line, they each require heavy equipment for installation. Once installed, though, they give the appearance of an existing tree. Don’t let that fool you, though; they require much more care than a standard tree to keep them looking the best.

The village of Mount Horeb was settled by people of German, Irish, Scottish, Swiss, Norwegian, and English descent. But by the late 1800s, the vast majority of the village was populated by Norwegians. Trolls, of course, originated in early Scandinavian folklore, which says that they are similar in size to elves or dwarves and tend to live in mounds or near the sea. According to folklore, trolls have magical powers; long, crooked noses; bushy tails; and more. They live to be 100 years old or more.

The people of Mount Horeb adopted the Scandinavian beliefs and named their community the troll capital of the world. About a century later, this designation was turned into a smart commercial decision when a Scandinavian gift shop named Open House Imports starting placing trolls imported from Norway on their lawn to draw in visitors. In the mid-80s, when the Wisconsin Department of Transportation created a bypass around Mount Horeb, truckers started referring to it as the Mount Horeb Trollway.

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