The town of Mount Horeb, Wisconsin, is known as the troll capital of the world. The entire town embraces this unique designation, which draws tourists to take photos with the troll sculptures, purchase troll-like gifts and paraphernalia, and eat and drink at the Grumpy Troll Brew Pub.
Many of the sculptures scattered around the town’s main street are carved from solid wooden logs and tower over human admirers. Their presence can be linked to Mount Horeb’s historic demographics—by the late 1800s, the vast majority of the village was populated by Norwegians. Trolls, of course, originated in early Scandinavian folklore, which describes them as similar in size to elves or dwarves and tending to live in mounds or near the sea. According to folklore, trolls have magical powers, long, crooked noses, and bushy tails. They live to be 100 years old or more.
In the 1970s, a Scandinavian gift shop began placing Norwegian trolls on their lawn, which attracted the affectionate notice of truckers. When the state built a bypass around the town, the town, concerned about the economic impact, went all in on trolls, designating Main Street the “trollway.”
About a century later, this designation was turned into a smart commercial decision when a Scandinavian gift shop named Open House Imports starting placing trolls imported from Norway on their lawn to draw in visitors. In the mid-80s, when the Wisconsin Department of Transportation created a bypass around Mount Horeb, truckers started referring to it as the Mount Horeb Trollway.
Know Before You Go
The town offers a map of the trolls' locations around town on their website.