W'eel Turtle – Dunseith, North Dakota - Atlas Obscura
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Dunseith, North Dakota

W'eel Turtle

A rim-made reptile in North Dakota. 

In 1982, a local motel and thrift store owner named George Gottbreht decided he needed to clean out his garage. For over 16 years, Gottbreht had collected 2,000 old car rims, and was waiting for the perfect moment to turn his bizarre collection into a piece of memorable art.

When his assembly of rims had reached a breaking point, he tasked artist Curt Halvorsen with welding together each rim into a gigantic turtle. Dunseith, on the border with Canada, is near the Turtle Mountains, and their beauty inspired Gottbreht to choose the symbolic reptile.

After all the rims were successfully welded together, the turtle stood 18 feet high and a massive 40 feet long. The head of the turtle alone weighs over a ton. Initially the shape confused some locals, so Gottbreht added a giant motor to move the head to make the statue more turtle-esque. Unfortunately, the desire to climb the monument was too strong, and the motor had to be removed to prevent accidents to overzealous visitors.

Know Before You Go

West side of ND 3 just north of its intersection with ND 5