Grave Digger’s Dungeon and Giant Chairs: Unusual NC Roadside Attractions

Grave Digger, one of monster trucking's biggest stars, in action in 2018. The spook truck is based out of the coastal North Carolina community of Poplar Branch. (Shutterstock)

By jenniferbringle

November 4, 2021

These landmarks in North Carolina are worth veering off the main road.

Did you know that you can get your gas pumped at an actual shell station? 

Yes, we mean like the line of Shell gas stations, but in the shape of an actual shell. Almost makes pumping gas seem fun, right? 

Half the fun of a road trip is enjoying all there is to see along the way. And while North Carolina has no shortage of scenery, some of the roadside sights like these are stranger than others. 

Here’s our rundown of some of the weirdest roadside attractions across the state:

World’s Largest Chest of Drawers, High Point

High Point is known as the “Furniture Capital of the World,” so it’s only fitting the world’s largest chest of drawers towers over the city’s downtown. 

Built in 1926 for the Bureau of Information—pun definitely intended—the 19th century-style chest of drawers stands 36 feet high and pays homage to the city’s history of furniture manufacturing. Two large socks hang from one of the drawers in honor of the area’s hosiery mill history.

The Big Chair, Thomasville

A fitting neighbor to the world’s largest chest of drawers, the big chair in Thomasville stands in tribute to that city’s furniture-making history. 

Built in 1950 by Thomasville Furniture Industries, the steel-and-concrete replica of a Duncan Phyfe armchair replaced an earlier smaller version built in the 1920s of wood, which didn’t stand up to weather. Standing 30 feet high, the chair earned its 15 minutes of national fame in 1960 when Lyndon B. Johnson stood on the seat to wave to locals while on the campaign trail.

The House of Mugs, Collettsville

Fifteen years ago, artists and collectors Avery and Doris Sisk bought a box of 15 mugs at a flea market. 

Seeing the cups as more than just utilitarian objects, the Sisks hung them on the walls of their cabin. With the help of curious tourists, who often stop by to contribute their own mugs, the Sisks have covered the exterior of their home, along with the gate and fence, in more than 20,000 coffee cups. There’s no charge to visit the house, but tourists are welcome to contribute to the collection if they can find an empty nail.

Shell Service Station, Winston-Salem

Tucked within a quiet downtown neighborhood like an architectural Easter egg, the last remaining shell-shaped Shell station recalls the golden age of motor travel. Built in 1930, the sunny yellow, shell-shaped gas station was built by the local Shell distributor to bring brand awareness to Winston-Salem. After the station closed in the 1970s, Preservation North Carolina purchased and restored it to its original glory.

World’s Largest Frying Pan, Rose Hill

Most super-sized roadside attractions are merely for show, but the world’s largest frying pan actually cooks up chicken each year during the North Carolina Poultry Jubilee (November 5-6 this year). Built by the Ramsey Feed Company in 1963 in a nod to the area’s poultry industry, the pan covers 176 square feet, holds 200 gallons of cooking oil and weighs two tons. Operating over 40 propane burners, the pan can cook up to 365 whole chickens at once. 

Grave Digger’s Dungeon, Poplar Branch

Perhaps the biggest star of the monster truck circuit, Grave Digger is also a North Carolina native. 

First assembled in 1981 by Dennis Anderson, Grave Digger eventually became synonymous with monster trucks, and in the years since there have been more than 20 versions of the truck. 

Some of the former models sit alongside Highway 158 at Grave Digger’s Dungeon, which also serves as the home base for the truck team and mechanics. Visitors can go inside the shop, climb inside the trucks and take photos with the Grave Diggers assembled outside.


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