How Clyde Wynia Turned Scraps of Metal into Prehistoric Art at Jurustic Park  

By Dan White, Director of Development at Gordon College 

News out of Hollywood is that the next Jurassic World movie will start production in summer 2024. This franchise has certainly seen much success since the original Jurassic Park hit theaters in 1993. 

But move over, Stephen Spielberg. There is another collection of “prehistoric” creatures gathered at a place called Jurustic Park, one of the most unique attractions in Wisconsin that has become the stuff of legend.  

Clyde Wynia ’58 and his wife, Nancy, are the proprietors of Jurustic Park, and Clyde is a self-proclaimed amateur paleontologist. He says the park showcases replicas of now-extinct creatures that inhabited the marsh near his home during the Iron Age.  

“Their flesh and bones were ferrous metal, usually mild steel, but occasionally stainless,” he says. “Many of this iron species died out when farming and industry moved into the area in the mid-19th century.” The creatures were often harvested, it is said, for their parts that were then used in farm and industrial machinery. Jurustic Park is something of a tribute to these once mighty––and metal––beings. 

That is Clyde’s story, and he is sticking with it.  

All in fun, of course. 

A Hidden Gem in Wisconsin Madison County 

But it is also serious business. Jurustic Park attracts 17,000 visitors annually from around the world, every one of them coming to hear Clyde tell his tales of wonder about the creatures he has “excavated” from the deep or recreated for all to enjoy. The park must be seen to be believed and now houses more than 200 unique pieces on a parcel of land cleared specifically for their exhibition. Visitors should be prepared for a chuckle as Clyde shares stories and one-liners that will make anyone smile.  

Clyde and Nancy have a shared interest in the arts, and both participated in the Marshfield (Wisconsin) Art Fair for many years. Clyde started out in ceramics, while Nancy followed in her father’s footsteps as a painter. Clyde then began experimenting with scraps of metal and discovered he was adept at creating “swamp creatures,’ which prompted local onlookers to start stopping by to get a closer look. In time this led to the Wynias’ farm becoming a destination that now hosts thousands of curious guests every year, especially during the summer. 

Meanwhile Nancy continued her artistic impulse by establishing a shop on the park property, known as The Hobbit House. There, she creates and sells jewelry, beads, flowers and sculptures she crafts from hand-blown glass, along with spinning her own yarn for hand-crafted garments she creates. 

A Dynamic Duo 

Clyde (right) and Nancy (left) Wynia.

Long before it all began, Clyde and Nancy Wynia were young people falling in love on Boston’s North Shore in the 1950s. While Nancy participated in nursing training in a Salem, MA, hospital, Clyde served as an orderly in the same facility while also studying philosophy at Gordon College.  

“I saw him walking around, with his shock of blonde hair,” remembers Nancy. “Suddenly there was this cute little nurse chasing me all over the hospital,” recalled Clyde. “I didn’t know what to do, so I just gave in.”  

Clyde went on to become an attorney back home in Wisconsin, where he practiced law for four decades before retiring for a more “creative” career. Nancy served as a private duty nurse for a number of years. 

Truth be told, Clyde and Nancy are the warmest and most authentic couple one could ever meet. Now in their seventh decade of marriage, their love and support for each other are evident as they enjoy co-owning and operating what might be the most interesting and unusual retirement “side gig” of all time.  

“We’re together 24 hours a day, and we get along fantastically. It’s a dream retirement,” say both Nancy and Clyde. “We have the kind of relationship where every day we say, ‘I love you.’ We are appreciative of each other.” 

Clyde and Nancy are also known locally for their generosity and hospitality as they help many in the community and in area churches, serve on local boards and contribute their art to nearby school districts. As a nurse, Nancy also donates her time by doing wellness checks for church members and has participated in two medical mission trips to help the people of Cartagena, Colombia. 

Most of all, the Wynias are having the time of their lives. “Thirty-one years ago I just made a big iron bird and hung it on a tree,” said Clyde of his first creation. “Turns out I couldn’t stop with just one.” 

Encounter one of the Most Popular Attractions in Wisconsin 

If you visit Madison, Wisconsin, Jurustic Park is open most days from 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. It is well worth a visit, and the Wynias especially enjoy whenever fellow Gordon College alumni come to call. 

Until you get the chance to go, watch one many videos from local news organizations that have interviewed the Wynias over the years.