Grave Digger's Dungeon – Poplar Branch, North Carolina - Atlas Obscura
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Poplar Branch, North Carolina

Grave Digger's Dungeon

The Cadillac Ranch for monster truck aficionados. 

Few diversions are as uniquely and unabashedly American as a good old fashioned monster truck jam. Among the greatest stars in the sport’s history is Grave Digger, specifically when driven by Dennis Anderson.

Way back in 1981, before the dawn of monster truck racing as we know it today, Anderson assembled his first ‘mud bogging’ vehicle by combining the chassis of a 1952 Ford pickup and a high-performance Chevy engine with a body welded together from miscellaneous junkyard parts. After a few years of vehicular experimentation and perfecting his racing style, Anderson, so the story goes, gained enough confidence to talk smack to his opponents, saying, “I’ll take this old junk and dig your grave.”

Enter the Grave Digger. With its signature black, old-style body adorned by green flames, skulls and the grim reaper, Anderson and the Digger quickly became a crowd favorite. At first, Anderson’s reputation for spectacular finishes, often punctuated by debilitating crashes, worked against his nickname as “One Run Anderson.” Later, he harnessed his strengths, such as high flying antics, trick driving, and car crushing, to establish the Freestyle Jam as the final element of each rally.

Rollovers, demolition, as well as general wear and tear necessitate more than one Grave Digger. Just like Shamu, to date there have been approximately 20 Grave Diggers, including one passenger-style monster truck in which visitors are taken on a ride for a nominal fee.

Late models that have been put out to pasture can be found at the Digger’s Dungeon, which also serves as home-base for Grave Digger’s drivers and mechanics. Inside the shop, childhood fantasies become real by giving big and little kids alike the opportunity to climb into one of the notorious vehicles, and take pictures with the Diggers parked out front in precarious positions.

Lots of memorabilia can be purchased, but the shards of Grave Diggers hanging from the ceiling are priceless, permanent fixtures.

Know Before You Go

Located on Highway 158 (running along the North Carolina coast) about 40 miles from the Virginia state line, about 15-20 miles north of Kill Devil Hills.

For more information you can call 252-453-4121.