Giant ’shroom of the peninsula


Steve Whitford

Meet John Jaggi, age 45, a lifelong resident of the Key Peninsula.

He lives with his fiancée, Andrea Lane, and his 15-month-old son, Braxton, on their five-acres on Elgin Clifton Road.

Jaggi inherited the land from his great-grandparents, Fredrich and Loretta Jaggi, who purchased the 300-acre parcel in 1909. The Jaggi ranch is a picture of storybook-like perfection.

Besides the main house and scattered outbuildings, there’s a picnic area, complete with a table and two wood fire barbecue pits. Each pit is set up with metal rods capable of holding an entire animal, be it hog, cow or wild game, much like you would see in a western movie.

Next to that sits the smokehouse, identified and adorned with a large wood carving of a salmon. Down the hill a bit, the horseshoe pits wait for competitors. The rest of the ranch is strewn with relics from bygone eras.

One example would be the buzz saw used by his great-grandparents. It was portable and was powered by a tractor motor. It was used to cut trees into vertical slabs that could be made into lumber. Alongside the driveway sits the first electric gas pump from the long gone gas station –– which was located across the street from O’Callahan’s. It’s price for gas frozen forever at nine cents a gallon.

This brings us to the story of the giant “’shroom.”

Approximately two years ago, Jaggi was removing trees from one of his fields when he noticed part of a rock sticking out of the ground.

After considerable digging, he realized that the boulder was huge, approximately six by seven feet in size. Fortunately, Jaggi works in heavy construction, and with his loader he was able to lift and position the rock on top of a large tree stump.

Jaggi estimated the weight of the behemoth at 4,000-plus pounds. With a little imagination and paint, Jaggi created quite possibly the world’s largest Amanita mushroom, which is native to our area. The actual mushrooms are reddish brown with white spots. Their beauty belies their deadly nature if eaten.

Jaggi has lots of plans for ranch improvements that include a giant treehouse and tire swing for his young son, Braxton. The tire is immense and originally was on an old John Deere loader. In addition Jaggi has located two more boulders that he plans on digging up, decorating and displaying.

If you want to view the giant mushroom art, just take SR-302. If you’re going toward Allyn, it can be seen in all its glory from the road. It’s on the left side, just before the Drive Through Feed store and it’s definitely worth a look and a like. One thing though, if sightseeing, you will want to respect Jaggi’s property and privacy. He values them both and is known to be handy with a gun or a knife.