World's Strangest takes an intelligent and witty look at some of the strangest things humankind has created, been affected by, or is intrigued by. The series focuses mostly on manmade phenomena and creations, be they buildings, technology, or things we attempt to do in this world.
Runtime: 60 minutes
World's Strangest - Axel Erlandson - Netflix
Axel Erlandson (December 15, 1884 – April 28, 1964) was a Swedish American farmer who shaped trees as a hobby, and opened a horticultural attraction in 1947 advertised as “See the World's Strangest Trees Here,” and named “The Tree Circus.” The trees appeared in the column of Robert Ripley's Believe It or Not! twelve times. Erlandson sold his attraction shortly before his death. The trees were moved to Gilroy Gardens in 1985.
World's Strangest - The Tree Circus - Netflix
In 1945, Erlandson's daughter and his wife visited the ocean near Santa Cruz, California, where they saw people lined up to pay to see such oddities as tilted buildings at the Mystery Spot. They returned home and mentioned offhandedly to Axel that if his trees were on a well-traveled tourist route, they might draw people who would pay to see them. Axel jumped on the idea and bought a small parcel of land, on the main road between the Santa Clara Valley and the ocean, in Scotts Valley, California, where he started the process of transplanting the best of his trees to their new home. To create the “Basket Tree”, Erlandson planted six sycamore trees in a circle, topped them all at one foot, then approach-grafted them together one to another to form the diamond patterns. For the first 8 feet (2.4 m) he left an opening at the top. This specimen today is featured as the centerpiece of Gilroy Gardens. His roadside attraction, The Tree Circus, opened in the spring of 1947. On June 4, 1947, Erlandson wrote to Robert Ripley sending him 2 photos of his trees and inviting him to visit. Over the years, Erlandson’s trees appeared twelve times in Robert's column, Ripley's Believe It or Not!. Income from visitor admissions was scant, however, as the 1940 opening of Highway 17 had gradually routed tourist traffic away from the old stage route. In 1955, a relatively good year, the Tree Circus brought in $321.20. Life Magazine ran a pictorial in its January 14, 1957 issue, improving attendance.
World's Strangest - References - Netflix