If you want to learn about someplace, you can always pick up a textbook. But if you want to get to know a place, you're going to have to dig a little deeper. And what you find there might be a little strange. The Strange States series will take you on a virtual tour of America to uncover the unusual people, places, things, and events that make this country such a unique place to call home.

This week we’re heading to the vast, arid deserts of the Sagebrush State, Nevada.

The Republic of Molossia

Normally you wouldn’t pack your passport to visit Nevada, but if your trip takes you to Kevin Baugh’s house in Dayton, it’s recommended you have your papers in order: His property is a 6.3 acre sovereign country, The Republic of Molossia.

Originally established as the Grand Republic of Vuldstein in 1977 by then-Prime Minister Baugh and his friend King James Spielman I, the country experienced a brief, but short-lived period of growth until the King was forced to abandon his throne after moving to a different high school. Prime Minister Baugh accepted command, but the ensuing years were tumultuous as the micronation experienced multiple name changes and different systems of government. However, since becoming The Republic of Molossia in May 1998, and under the guidance of now-President Baugh, the country has seen a period of stability. 

Stability has not come without struggle, though, especially during the 2006 armed conflict with a former ally, the micronation of Mustachistan, and its ruthless leader, Sultan Ali-Ali Achsenfree. In addition, Molossia has been embroiled in a long-standing war with East Germany, first declared in November 1983 but forgotten until the Ministry of Archives and Records, Spare Room Closet Division, unearthed documents saying that the Soviet Bloc country had been responsible for “disrupting sleep” of then-Prime Minister Baugh while he was stationed in West Germany with the U.S. Army. Although East Germany fell with the Berlin Wall in 1990, a small, uninhabited island off the coast of Cuba, Ernst Thälmann Island, was donated to East Germany by Fidel Castro in 1972, and is thus the last remaining 15km x 500m wide sliver of land contested by Molossia. Because there are no residents of the island to negotiate a peace treaty, the war is considered ongoing with no end in sight.

Should you decide to visit Molossia, be sure to rid yourself of any contraband items, such as incandescent light bulbs, plastic shopping bags, catfish, fresh spinach, onions, and walruses, before entering its borders. In addition, no person shall set off a torpedo inside the country. Cowboy boots are outright banned, unless you already own at least two cows. If you wish to keep a rhinoceros as a pet, you will first need to acquire a permit, and any pet elephants must be on a leash inside the Red Square landmark. Moth hunting by street light is illegal, but detonating a nuclear bomb will only result in a fine. 

Once inside Molossia, you’ll need to exchange your dollars for Valoras, the official currency. The current exchange rate is about .75 for 1 Valora; however, the preferred method of exchange is one tube of Pillsbury cookie dough for 3 Valora.  Paper Valora bills feature the images of the President, the First Lady, national hero Emperor Norton I of San Francisco, and the government house where His Excellency, The President and First Lady live. Valoran coins can double as poker chips, because they are poker chips featuring important symbols from the micronation’s history. While in Molossia, Valoras can be used to purchase souvenir t-shirts, autographed photos of dignitaries, official stamps at the Molossia Post Office, and its primary export, handmade Supremo Soap.  

If you’d like to visit The Republic of Molossia, contact His Excellency, The President Kevin Baugh at least two weeks in advance of your arrival. You’ll be greeted by His Excellency in full military dress; he'll gladly give you a tour of Molossia, including such historic landmarks as the Dead Dog Battlefield, Heroes of Molossia Monument, Norton Park, The Tower of the Winds, and Republic Square, where you can bask in the glory of the Molossian flag. Passports are not required, but will be stamped upon request to prove you’ve visited the smallest (imaginary, but fun) country in America. 

For more information, visit The Republic of Molossia online. 

Have the scoop on an unusual person, place or event in your state?  Tell me about it on Twitter (@spacemonkeyx) and maybe I’ll include it in a future edition of Strange States!    

Read all the entries in our Strange States series here.