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Lidgerwood man looks for new home for crazy collection

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LIDGERWOOD, N.D. — A man with a one-of-a-kind collection is trying to put tiny Lidgerwood on the map.

Ken Clark is a man of many hobbies. He's an established bowler—"I think one time I bowled a 289."

An ace golfer—"I got a hole-in-one a couple times," Clark says with a laugh.

And he's a jigsaw fanatic. "I work on different sections," he says.

But his most impressive hobby? "People say 'ooh and ahh' when they get to the first room," Clark says. "Well, take a look for yourself. They say 'I can't believe this.' "

Boxes, the walls, even the ceilings are covered in pencils. "This isn't all of them," says Clark. Twenty-five thousand by his count.

For 25 years, Clark has owned what he calls the largest display of pencils in the entire world—each one logged in a book, and many advertising rural businesses.

"Here's investment companies and I see insurance," he says.

The pocket-sized billboards go on and on—artifacts of small-town Americana.

The strangest part of this romance with the writing tools? Clark doesn't even consider himself a collector.

His pencil supply came with the house, and people have given him hundreds to add to the stockpile.

Now he's the proud owner of some unique pencils—bullet pencils, "lot of history"; some specifically for southpaws—"left-handed wooden pencils"; and others from the age of the dinosaurs.

"Some with only two-digit phone numbers," Clark says.

He says people still send him pencils to this day, but he doesn't mount any because there's no room left to display them.

Now Clark is searching for a new home for his display—somewhere to show off all 40,000 at once. Right now he can only exhibit about half that.

"You could get worldwide recognition, you could be No. 1 in the world," Clark says.

He's hoping a business will take a chance on the collection, and on his hometown.

"I want to find a place to put them all, somewhere local, you know, help put Lidgerwood on the map."

Clark hopes someone will one day open a museum showcasing his pencils.

He bought the collection for $6,000 in 1991 as part of his home purchase. The previous owner collected them over several decades.

Clark says he has no idea what it's worth these days.