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​Dreaming Big: Gary Greff on the Future of the Enchanted Highway

Arts | November 17th, 2022

By Sabrina Hornung

sabrina@hpr1.com

If you’ve ever driven down the Enchanted Highway, the 32-mile ribbon of road connecting Regent to Gladstone in western North Dakota, home to the world’s largest salvaged metal sculptures, it’s no secret that their creator Gary Greff dreams big.

When he realized that this dream of his would become a destination, he knew that the town of Regent would need a hotel.

“I went to a bank and asked them if they would fund a hotel in Regent North Dakota, and the bank sort of laughed at me saying, basically, we're not going to stick a million dollars into a hotel in a town of 100 people– that's not going to work out.”

Once the Regent high school shut its doors the building eventually went up for bids.

“I wanted a hotel that was unique. I didn't want a hotel that was like Motel Six or Super Eight or whatever. I wanted something that was different and tied in with the Enchanted Highway. So what type of hotel ties in with it? When I designed each of the rooms I thought, Well, okay, what kind of hotel comes to mind when you say the word ‘enchanted?’” Gregg said. “What ties in with enchanted.. CASTLE! Okay. There's two types of castles, the Disneyland castle and the medieval castle. I thought well, the Disneyland Castle look would not fit North Dakota at all. But the medieval castle just might at least blend in and look like it should be here.”

The tavern and castle both incorporate stonework in their decor. The decor includes suits of armor and metal chandeliers depicting knights jousting and fighting dragons. The hotel has 19 rooms that are spacious, clean, and comfortable. There’s a continental breakfast. The high school gym is even intact, so guests can walk laps, shoot hoops or utilize one of the two hot tubs in the back of the gym. Plus the gym is no stranger to events and parties.

The menu at the steakhouse includes bar munchies such as mozzarella sticks, onion rings, fried mushrooms etc. The dinner menu included steak, seafood options and even frog legs.

“At one time, we were gonna do menu items that tied in with each of the sculptures; long and short of it, we don't get enough people down here at the present time to justify that, so we had to scale back. Our menu depends on the volume of people.” said Greff.

His most recent sculpture is a 40-foot knight defending the Enchanted Castle from an even larger dragon. It has been a work in progress for the past 5 ½ years, he says that on average his sculptures take at least six years to complete.

“I would like eventually to have three more sculptures on the Enchanted Highway, there's a 12-mile stretch that was supposed to have three more sculptures on it. And right now the landowners aren't being real cooperative in leasing me a piece of land. So that's why I can work on the knight and dragon. And after that's done we'll see where I can put the next sculpture.” he said.

What does the future hold for the enchanted highway? Greff is hoping that the state will get involved.

“At the present time, it's been basically my show,with a very, very minimal budget. But when I pass on, they're gonna have to hire people and hire a welder. Our nonprofit foundation is only funded by a little gift shop that doesn't make enough money to justify hiring... The long and short of it depends on the State of North Dakota coming on board to help fund the project. I've got lots of dreams, I’ve got a lot of things to do, I want to see three more sculptures down on the highway. I'd like to see possibly a theme park behind the Enchanted Castle that has a couple of sculptures that have things for kids to do, So there's a lot of things that can be done.

So the Enchanted Highway, I'm hoping, doesn't die when I die. But if I don't get help from the state or other agencies and so forth. I'm afraid that the Enchanted Highway will die when Gary Greff dies.”

YOU SHOULD KNOW

The Enchanted Castle 607 Main St, Regent, North Dakota (701) 563-4858 http://enchantedcastlend.com

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