Take a Virtual Tour of the Firefly Forest, a Kansas Park Turned Gnome Village - Atlas Obscura
Join us on an Atlas Obscura Trip in 2019 »

Take a Virtual Tour of the Firefly Forest, a Kansas Park Turned Gnome Village

In 2013, tiny hollow-tree homes for fairies started popping up around Overland Park.

In the spring of 2013, local news stations in Overland Park, Kansas began reporting sightings of peculiarly magical structures along the wooded Tomahawk Creek Trail. Miniature houses with doors, pathways, and mailboxes were hidden within the nooks of tree trunks.  

The video clip above by Blackburrow Creative gives a rare look at the mysterious Firefly Forest—a community of “gnome homes.” Each tiny house was unique. People walking down the trail could open the hinged wooden doors to see a tiny bed, a pair of wooden clogs on the floor, a tea set steaming with dry ice. One house with the address 12 Hollow Tree Lane had labeled moving boxes that disappeared and was later replaced with furniture.

However, the houses featured in the video above mysteriously vanished from Overland Park in June 2014.

Park officials were not responsible for the whimsical installations. No one knew the identity of the craftsperson behind Firefly Forest. It remained a secret until 2015 when a 17-minute documentary titled “The Gnomistrevealed the artist to be a woman named Robyn Frampton.     

The film produced by Great Big Story shows how the gnome homes struck wonder and provided comfort within the community. At one house, people could write notes to fairies that Frampton would secretly collect.

For about a year, Frampton crafted the tiny houses. In 2014, she and her family moved to Utah, taking the gnome homes with them. Only one remains: a turquoise wooden door with the sign “The Little Owl,” dedicated to a three-year-old girl Allie Fisher who had died of brain cancer.  

Even though Frampton’s original tiny fairy structures are gone, her work has been recaptured in the Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens. Staff created the Enchanted Forest display, which has 13 intricate gnome homes. In Saratoga Springs, Utah Frampton continues making mystical homes, constructing a massive multi-level fairy house carved into a 1,200-pound tree trunk. You can also buy your own fairy door crafted by Frampton.

Every day we track down a Video Wonder: an audiovisual offering that delights, inspires, and entertains. Have you encountered a video we should feature? Email ella@atlasobscura.com.