6 Mind-Blowing Things People Built in Their Backyard
If you are lucky enough to have a backyard instead of just, say, an alley full of garbage cans or the ass end of your neighbor's trailer, you probably feel like a hero just for keeping the grass cut. Maybe if you're really ambitious, you've done some landscaping, or maybe you're handy and have built a deck. It really doesn't matter -- whatever you've got back there doesn't compare to these mind-boggling one-man projects ...
The Miniature Paris
"This is the third time you've used 'A giant hand was blocking the bridge' as a late excuse."
This may look like a Photoshopped image of a giant, nuclear-powered Frenchman descending upon Paris, but the Frenchman is actually regular-sized. It's the city that is tiny. That's because for no particular reason, Gerard Brion decided to dedicate his life to building a scale replica of Paris in his yard. And when we say he's dedicated his life to it, we mean it: It's said to have taken 15 years to build. And since he was 29 when he finished, that means he started when he was 14. At least it kept him out of trouble, we guess.
People with scale models of world cities in their backyard are 14 percent less likely to end up selling drugs.
Working in his shed all by himself, Brion built his miniature Paris out of old concrete blocks, baby food jars, soup tins and other junk. He probably also raided the local toy store for thousands of Hot Wheels, because his city is complete with streets, cars, rivers that run under bridges and electrical wiring that lights up the city at night.
So many mice have gotten laid bringing their girlfriends here.
We're afraid to ask if he installed plumbing, complete with thousands of tiny toilets and tiny people pooping in them, because with this attention to detail, he probably did.
Can you spot the tiny molestation occurring?
His work attracts 15,000 tourists per year to the small town of Vaissac in the South of France, so if you want to visit Paris but can't afford the real thing (or you prefer to pretend you are Godzilla while visiting famous landmarks), this could be a good second option. You just have to resist the urge to stomp it all into the ground.
We would not be able to resist that urge.
Jim Bishop's Infinitely Expanding Castle
As far as castles go, Bishop Castle in Colorado admittedly looks like it wouldn't hold up under a siege. But we can forgive that for the fact that one guy has built the entire thing, stone by stone, over the course of 40 years.
When Jim Bishop was 15, he dropped out of high school because his teacher told him he'd never amount to anything. Like most people in that situation, Bishop reacted by purchasing two acres of land in the Colorado mountains and spending the remainder of his life sculpting a giant castle out of rocks and junk.
Starting with an elaborate dungeon for that asshole teacher.
Bishop's castle comes complete with 250-foot towers, domes, vertigo-inducing bridges and a giant dragon's head that breathes smoke powered by an internal stove. And, most amazingly, he's put the whole thing together without the use of heavy machinery, laying every stone and beam by hand.
Meanwhile, you still haven't completed that couch from IKEA.
So when can he expect the project to be complete? In Bishop's own words, when he opens the paper in the morning and reads his own obituary. We're not sure that's how it works, but the point is that he feels the project is a form of therapy for him and he never intends to stop adding to it.
Unless he encounters some other guy who has obsessively built a fleet of trebuchets.
A Homemade Roller Coaster
"If you build it,
they will come you might die."
What do you do when you love to ride the roller coaster but you don't want to deal with all the other bullshit that comes with visiting an amusement park? For most of us, not much besides sitting on an office chair and spinning around really fast. If you're John Ivers, you actually build a roller coaster in your backyard, because you are nuts.
Ivers, of Indiana, simply hated waiting in lines, and so he decided to piss in the face of engineering school and build his own roller coaster in 2001. Although he had no prior experience in the roller coaster industry, Ivers was a welder and had access to plenty of scrap metal. He built his masterpiece, which he named Blue Flash, using trial and error. In true MacGyver fashion, he even skipped a few steps and used his storage shed as support for the first hill.
"Why doesn't everybody use thin strips of corrugated metal to support their roller coasters?"
Ivers allows anyone who wants to ride his creation do so for free. Those brave enough to trek to Indiana and ride a roller coaster in the backyard of a stranger who had never built a roller coaster before face one final test of trust: They'll be riding on a slightly modified car seat without much in the way of safety precautions. Hey, the whole point of roller coasters is that they give you an adrenaline rush due to briefly tricking your body into thinking you're going to die. So on one level, we're pretty sure this is the best roller coaster in the world.
A Medieval Castle in Kansas
Half Medieval Times, half IHOP.
Don Kracht of Kansas decided one day that he was going to start a garden in his backyard, and that's about where the sanity ends in this story, because the garden wound up looking like this:
Before you ask, there's no mini golf.
According to Kracht, the decision to build a castle in his yard was intuitive enough. While digging his garden, he found that the soil was too wet, so he made a lake instead, then he figured his lake needed an island, and his island needed a waterfall, and his waterfall needed a five-story castle. It's just a case of one thing leading to another in crazytown.
If you figured that he was just a stonemason or an architect with too much time on his hands, you'd be wrong -- he was a math teacher. His absolute lack of experience didn't deter him from mixing his own cement and laying each brick by hand until he wound up with a moat, three bridges, a waterfall and the castle itself. The walkways are emblazoned with math equations, just in case this all wasn't nerdy enough.
Only the bravest make it past square root panel number 4. That shit has decimals.
He says that passersby often mistake it for a genuine medieval castle, despite the fact that this is in Kansas and so that doesn't make any sense. It's just another case of someone going outside to build a garden and winding up with Skyrim.
Though the last time we checked, Dragonsreach didn't have plastic chairs or cups.
A Western Town
When the wife of retired dentist Jimmy Helms asked him to refurbish some old sheds in their backyard, Helms took one look at them and decided he had a better idea: converting his yard into an old-timey Wild West town. Incidentally, this is why she never asks him to do things.
The former dentist has spent over 14 years building what he calls New Dubina, a Western-style town that he named after a nearby town that was destroyed in a fire. The town features all of the standard Western movie locations -- a general store, a saloon, a schoolhouse, a small church. Also, this is one of the few circumstances where you can build a gallows in your yard without having it qualify as a hate crime.
"It doubles as a playground!"
Helms' town has 22 buildings in it, approximately 22 more buildings than anyone reading this has probably ever built. Also, they're stocked with actual artifacts from the Old West that Helms collected by searching all around Texas.
The corner store will give you authentic dysentery.
And although some might mock him for his hobby, Helms' obsession was rewarded when a television network found it so authentic that they came out to film a couple of episodes of a Western there -- with Helms playing the sheriff.
Though he probably takes the home schooling a little too far.
A BMX Park
God never misses the X-Games.
When Gordy Toth and his dad moved from Canada to California's Mojave Desert, his dad told him that he could build anything he wanted in the backyard. Toth, being a teenage boy with dreadlocks, knew exactly what he wanted to put there: a gigantic, kickass BMX park.
So, with the help of a group of friends, Toth had the entire yard cleared of trees and cacti and other deserty obstructions and began digging ramps and jumps that would give a health and safety inspector a heart attack. Nearly six whole years later, his biking amusement park was complete.
Actual neck-breaking is heavily discouraged.
Toth said the main purpose of the park was to give riders a place where the hills and turns create enough momentum that the rider doesn't have to pedal or brake. Almost as important was to do away with all that safety stuff and create a course that you can literally die on. Toth says that he's had 13 surgeries and broken nearly every bone in his body. Meanwhile, his dad probably wishes he'd built, like, a koi pond or something.
"I hear a lot of kids are taking up knitting these days ..."
Like any brooding teenager, Toth hit some problems when The Man tried to take his park away; specifically, his town's zoning department, who slapped him with $100,000 in fines. However, with the help of a civic engineer, Toth brought the case to court and got the town to drop all of the charges. Since then, the park has attracted visitors from as far away as Afghanistan and Australia, whose BMX parks apparently suck worse than a teenager's homemade one.
You can read XJ's ramblings at his blog, and he'd love it if you followed his Twitter.
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