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Burlington, Iowa

Snake Alley

While there are no actual snakes in the history of this crooked road there may be a number of dead horses. 

Deemed by Ripley’s Believe It or Not to be the “Crookedest Street In The World,” Iowa’s Snake Alley is the most crooked street in the United States, despite San Francisco’s claims otherwise. 

Created in 1894 by a trio of German immigrants, the steep street was a purposefully experimental design that was meant to mimic the vineyard trails of Europe. Aside from aesthetic choices, the street also served to connect Burlington’s downtown business district to a residential area on the raised end of Snake Alley. Down almost 300 feet the street consists of five half-curves and two quarter-curves, and lest the dizzying zig-zag prove too much for the horses that it was initially intended for, the limestone bricks that make up the street’s surface were placed at an angle to help the beasts get a better footing.

Speaking of horses in Snake Alley, there is a (likely apocryphal) story that after it was completed, the Burlington fire department would send prospective horses down the road at a full gallop and those that didn’t tumble over themselves, break ankles, or otherwise collapse would be allowed to pull the fire trucks. Believe it or not.

Today, the road is home to an annual bike race and an annual art fair that line the quaint street.