Johnson, W.R.

Plan of the Atomic Tunnel 1950's attraction near Daytona Beach

Atomic Tunnel. Temporary home of Happy the Walking Fish.

DESCRIPTION: Lithographed plan / view of the "World's Most Unusual Atomic Tunnel". A four-panel Florida roadside-attraction brochure from the early 1950s. An atomic age wonder! The illustrator is unknown but his interpretation of Happy the Walking Fish is a high point in mid-century illustration with Happy dressed to the nines in bow tie, top hat, and tuxedo and carrying a cane.
" … it was a long, white concrete building in the shape of a meandering tube, studded with 824 "port holes" (variously shaped small windows) that was designed primarily as a showcase and shop for exotic orchids. It also featured tropical birds, a monkey, and "Happy, the walking fish," a typical Southeast Asian "walking" catfish that could be prodded into flipping its way across a short dry connection from one tank to another." (1)

Verso contains two reverse-profile portraits of "Happy, the Walking Fish" and also two fold-in panels showing a map and plan of the Atomic Tunnel with happy visitors strolling along walkways. The illustrator cleverly uses two different levels of scale on this work, at top a linear representation with mile boards of HWY 1 stretching from Daytona Beach, Florida through Port Orange to the Atomic Tunnel and below on the same page a plan view of the Atomic Tunnel's tunnels, rooms and walkways at a large scale. The recto shows detailed photographs of the rooms including the Fish room, Bird room and Cactus room.

A scarce original brochure of the Atomic Tunnel, a 1950's Florida roadside attraction near Daytona Beach that tapped in to the 50's fear of and fascination with the close prospect of nuclear war.

Atomic Tunnel man eating piranha

The Atomic Tunnel was an orchid store, "Tropicolor Fantasy, The Tunnel Beautiful", built by W.R. Johnson in Port Orange, Fl. on U.S. Hwy. 1 seven miles south of Daytona Beach. In the mid 1950s Johnson's flair for promotion (2) and the public's fascination with all topics nuclear led him to re-brand the location as "Atomic Tunnel". The business was last re-branded "Tunnel of Fantasy" and promoted as "Florida's Biggest Little Attraction" in the later 1950's. By 1960 the Atomic Tunnel was closed and demolished. Did Happy have a happy ending? No word.

Lithographed by Drew, Jacksonville, Fla.


(2) "MAN EATING PIRANHA. Imported directly to Atomic Tunnel from the Amazon Basin, this deadly species can reduce a human being to a skeleton in a matter of hours. Used extensively by motion picture studios."

CREATOR: Johnson, W.R.




CONDITION: Good.  Slight, typical, signs of wear but clean and no issues.

COLORING: Process color.


SIZE: 16 " x 9 "


PRICE: $100


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