World Record Road Warrior Names Top Towns
If you ask Irv Gordon, the guy who set a world record by driving his car for more than 2.7 million miles, about road trips, he’ll tell you to ditch the fancy resorts and theme parks and take a drive to a small town. Gordon, a retired science teacher from Long Island, N.Y., clocked his historic two millionth mile in his shiny, red 1966 Volvo P1800 in 2002 while driving down Times Square in New York City. Now he is only 300,000 miles from reaching the three million mile mark. Gordon estimates he has stopped his Volvo at more than 5,000 small towns over the past 42 years for coffee and conversations with the locals.
"Folks are anxious to have a relaxing, inexpensive summer vacation under the warm sun," Gordon said. "Make it easy on yourself this year and get off the gridlocked interstates. Take a state highway toward one of our thousands of peaceful small towns. Each small town is a gem, packed with bizarre attractions, important history and plenty of fun."
Gordon suggests nine great towns (some with a Swedish twist) to drive to this summer:
- Newburyport, Mass.
"This small town, birthplace of the U.S. Coast Guard, is just a few miles north of Boston and has a rich maritime history heritage. You can still find shipyards, as well as New England-style saltbox homes and rather large federal- and colonial- style homes all over town. Be sure to visit Lowell's Boat Shop, the country's oldest boat-building business still in operation."
- Shelburne, Vt.
"This beautiful area is nestled between the mountains and Lake Champlain. It's home to the Shelburne Museum, the Vermont Teddy Bear Company, Shelburne Farms and the Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream factory."
- Lindsborg, Kan. (aka Little Sweden) "Lindsborg is a real taste of Sweden hidden 150 miles west of Kansas City. The town is beautiful, neat as a pin, and the townsfolk are just as friendly as can be. Swedish pancakes and other specialties are served in almost every restaurant in town. Swedish Midsommar celebrations with Swedish folk-dancing take place in June each year. Don't forget to stop by the bison ranch nearby and check out the wildlife."
- Mitchell, S.D.
"Home of the Corn Palace. It's a building like you have never seen before. Approximately 275,000 ears of corn, as well as other grains, stalks and grasses cover the building's exterior, forming elaborate murals designed by local artists. The murals are changed periodically but always depict local history. If you want to get the feel of a real Old Western town, this is a terrific place to start."
- Wamego, Kan.
"This small town's claim to fame is the OZ Museum. The attraction contains more than 2,000 OZ artifacts dating back to 1900. If you loved the story of Dorothy and Toto, you will love spending time here. Wamego is another friendly Midwestern town with welcoming residents."
- New Sweden, Stockholm and Westmanland, Maine
"These three tiny towns, first settled by 51 immigrants from Sweden, boast a rich Swedish heritage and easily allow you to 'get away from it all.' If you live in the Northeast and feel a drive to Lindsborg, Kan. (Little Sweden) is a bit far, this will give you a bit of Swedish hospitality closer to home."
- Groveland, Calif.
"This former gold-mining town of the 1840s is home to the oldest continually operating saloon in California and sits 30 miles from the entrance to Yosemite National Park. Amidst beautiful woods and lakes, the town is at the top of Priest Grade, a road once used to haul gold down the mountain and one of the steepest inclined roads in the U.S. Just the ride up the mountain is worth the trip."
- Vermilion, Ohio
"Here you'll find New England charm on the shores of Lake Erie and the Vermilion River. Lighthouse and sailboat enthusiasts will be right at home. Stores, shops and the Inland Seas Maritime Museum remind you of decades past. During the summer months, you can hear concerts and sample hand-dipped ice cream cones in the town square. Don't forget to visit Thomas Edison's birthplace in Milan, just a few miles away."
- East Sweden, Texas
"This is another Swedish heritage spot, now considered a ghost town. If you like getting a bit off the beaten path and seeing things as they used to be, this would be a great choice. It's easy to reach on U.S. Route 190 in the beautiful Texas Hill Country. The town remains show what happened when the railroad bypassed the settlement almost 100 years ago."
Gordon has learned a lot about small-town America since he purchased his P1800 in June 1966 from a neighborhood Volvo dealership for $4,150. His 125-mile daily commute to and from work, his passion for driving and his meticulous care for his car enabled him to clock the miles. In 1998, The Guinness Book of World Records honored Gordon's car as the vehicle with the "highest certified mileage driven by the original owner in noncommercial service." Gordon breaks his own world record every time he drives his celebrated car. With nearly 2.7 million miles on his car now, Gordon is aiming to achieve a near impossible milestone: driving three million miles in the same car.