THE ENCHANTED HIGHWAY x FX ORIGINAL DOCUMENTARIES
After spending time in the Fargo area for our first three documentary pieces, we headed out west to Regent, ND to visit the Enchanted Highway. We gave Gary Greff (owner, creator, visionary) a call to let him know we were on our way and headed west toward oil country.
Part of the beauty of North Dakota is the vast expanse of extremely frozen nothing. I'm so curious to see the fields in summer, when they're filled with greenery and crops for harvest. As we drove the sun set over the plains that were concrete hard from weeks of 30 below.
We arrived in Regent after midnight. Its the sweet sort of town where Gary could simply leave the front door open for us and a key with a note on the front desk.
Regent is a town of about 150 people, mostly over the age of 60, with an economy based in agriculture that is hard to sustain without a new generation. Most of the kids have moved on to larger cities, or their own farms, leaving this community with an unknown future. Like many towns we passed through on this trip, the main strip full of friendly faces and sweet waves evokes so many questions: how was this place chosen to settle? what did that look like, walking across the prairie to your new home? how has it changed? who can tell the history of this place and these neighbors? While the land is truly a vast expanse its the people who carry true intrigue.
Enter, Gary Greff. A Regent native who spent some time traveling throughout the Midwest as a teacher, he returned to find his home town slowly dwindling. He decided to do something about it and set about creating The Enchanted Highway. Truly impressive, the 3o mile stretch of road boasts seven larger than life metal sculptures. For someone who had never welded before, or engineered such a large structure, its beyond impressive to hear the story of how he brought each piece from conception to fruition.
The sculptures are a beautiful homage to the lifestyle his ancestors both endured and enjoyed with each piece representing critters encountered on the plains. The grasshopper sculpture seems to startle most, which is understandable as the ground is sometimes covered in them as though a Biblical force has passed over the prairie, while the Geese he has set on the highway to attract folks down does indeed draw travelers like a moth to the flame.
Big thank you to FX for sending us out this way, its a trip we would recommend in a heartbeat. While it is wildly beautiful in the winter, you may have a more pleasing picnic during the summer months. Either way, be sure to spend a night at the Enchanted Castle at the end of the road, enjoy a steak and give Gary a big hello from us!