Guest Author | 09/22/2022 | Arts and Culture, Downtown Corvallis, History

Quirky Corvallis

Are you the kind of person who loves exploring silly or offbeat discoveries that make a tourist stop way more fun? Corvallis offers you a range of quirky things to check out.

Periwinkle the Purple Unicorn

Periwinkle the Purple Unicorn is a wood carving made from a tree at a local residence where the original artist once lived. The story goes that the artist's granddaughter loved unicorns, so Grandpa made her one. Later, when the property sold, the realtor offered it up for adoption. Periwinkle currently lives on NW Bryant Street, south of the hospital. 

Midway Theatre, a former drive-in, may be gone, but its sign lives on in a new location as a Poetry Marquee. Wander up SW First Street from Madison as you stroll the waterfront. Before you reach Sugar J's Ice Cream Workshop, look over the parking lot to the side of the building. There you'll see the Midway Theatre sign in all its glory, featuring local poetry instead of the weekend's movie features.

Since you're on Madison Avenue, why not explore some interesting public art? Local favorite quirky statues are the brass dog ("Cassidy") and the whimsical "Clever Design" bronze sculpture featuring Avery the Alligator and Rembrandt the Raccoon. Using the Alley Art Walk map, start at 17 at the waterfront and head towards Central Park.

Human-Sized Bird's Nest

As you park in the shade of a beautiful Redwood tree on your way to Southtown's farmer's market, make your way to the sidewalk. Next to the tree, you'll come across a nest large enough for a human or two to sit in! To get here, take 99W to SE Alexander Ave. Afterward, walk down the street, cross over Crystal Lake Drive, and check out the Tuesday Market. 

Meanwhile, you can find the biggest beaver in the state (??) at the OSU campus. Benny Beaver has been immortalized as an oversized wood sculpture, easily towering over the OSU students he cheers on! To check out this memorable college icon, head over to OSU's Memorial Union student center's entrance on SW Jefferson Way at SW 26th Street.

If you're driving around checking out Corvallis' murals on NW 9th Street (between NW Hayes and NW Grant), be on the lookout for a great big, orange rocking chair! A good vantage point is across the street from the parking lot for the "Know Thyself: The Art of Wellbeing" mural by Erik Hoogan.

Iron Horse Rings outside the Toy Factory in downtown Corvallis

Thinking of riding your horse into town and looking for a place to park it while you have coffee, shop for toys or go to the hardware store? You're in luck! Saddle up and head over to SW 2nd between Bodhi Cafe and Robnett's Hardware, where there are eight iron horse rings on the curb. More unusual sidewalk signs can be found in the Historic Sidewalk Markers Walking Tour.

As you drive through town, you may come across railroad tracks and trains transporting lumber or grass seed. But did you know that Corvallis still has former train stations and an old Pullman train?

Start at The Old Spaghetti Factory (603 NW 2nd), located in a train depot originally constructed in 1910 and then moved twice - in 1917 and 1982. The other part of this train station still stands next to the train tracks behind City Hall.

About a 10-minute walk from City Hall, head towards SW 7th and SW Washington. There you will see another original train hub, the Willamette Valley & Coast Railroad Depot, built in 1887 and recently converted into Corvallis Depot Suites. Walk around, and an old Pullman train is between new OSU buildings and the depot! Such an unexpected sight!

Quirky, silly, oddball, and offbeat can mean different things to different people. We'd love to see what you find fun! Tag your photos with #visitcorvallis or @visitcorvallis, and we may also share them on our social media!

Article and photos by Stacey Newman Weldon. Keep up with Corvallis news, events and happenings by signing up for our email newsletter.

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