The Midwest has long been considered “Flyover Country” between the coasts. But, if people take the region for granted, they miss out on a lot of interesting attractions and some of the nicest people in the world. For instance, did you know that the Midwest is home to the world’s largest buffalo? Or bull? How about Holsten cow? Animals not your thing? Then, how about the world’s largest time capsule? Covered wagon? Ball of twine?
The 12-state Midwest region is home to a lot of the world’s “largest” attractions. They may seem hokey, but millions of people visit these attractions annually. We haven’t had the joy of checking out all of the states’ “largest” attractions, but we have seen a few.
Starting in our home state of Nebraska, we have visited the world’s largest time capsule in Seward. The town is about two hours west of Omaha. The time capsule, completed in 1975, contains a car among other items. It’s worth venturing off Interstate 80 for a short visit.
Not too far away is the world’s “largest” covered wagon. It’s actually a building with a covered wagon roof. It has served many purposes over the years. It can be seen from Interstate 80 near the Milford exit.
Hebron is home to the world’s largest porch swing. The southeast Nebraska community built it kind of out of a “gee whiz” thought. They figured if they were going big, why not go really big? The swing seats 16 adults or 24 children. Its ranking as the world’s largest has been challenged through the years, including a recent attempt by a Canadian town. It turned out that town just added to an existing swing, so it didn’t meet the definition. Thus, Hebron remains home of the world’s largest porch swing.
Nebraska is home to the world’s largest ball of stamps. The collection started in the 1950s at Boys Town. It remains the world’s largest ball of stamps. They haven’t added to it once it was named the world’s largest.
Hastings is home to the annual Kool-Aid stand during Kool-Aid Days. It is considered the world’s largest Kool-Aid stand.
Venturing south to Kansas, Cawker City is considered the home of the world’s largest ball of twine. A Minnesota community challenges its standing, but they each use different measuring techniques to reach their title.
Cawker City’s Frank Stoeber started the ball of twine in 1953. Four years later, it weighed more than 5,000 lbs. Visitors can add string to the ball.
Heading to North Dakota, we find a few of the world’s largest attractions.
Jamestown is home to the National Buffalo Museum. And to the world’s largest buffalo (bison). Dakota Thunder – the name given to him a few years ago – stands about 26 feet tall and weighs 60 tons. Dakota Thunder stands tall near Frontier Village and can be seen from the interstate. He’s been a popular tourist attraction for more than five decades.
New Salem, just off of Interstate 94 in western North Dakota, is home to the world’s largest Holstein cow. Salem Sue stands on a hill overlooking a valley. Sue is 38 feet tall and 50 feet long. She’s made from fiberglass. Sue was built in 1974.
The highway to Regent – known as the Enchanted Highway – is home to the world’s largest collection of scrap metal sculptures. The 32-mile stretch a few miles east of Dickinson has seven larger-than-life sculptures, ranging from giant grasshoppers to a giant farm family.
Iowa is home to the world’s largest bull. Arthur the Bull calls Audubon home. The western Iowa town is a few miles north of Interstate 80, and is worth the detour. Built in 1964, Arthur is 30 feet tall and 33 feet long. He has been the target of pranks before rival high schools through the years.
At the east end of Iowa sits the world’s largest truck stop. Not only does the truck stop actually serve travelers driving along I-80, the truck stop is home to a food court and museum.
Minnesota is home to the world’s largest Paul Bunyan. He sits near the entrance of the Paul Bunyan Land amusement park. We took a couple of nieces there several years ago, when they were 7 or 8. It was part of our “Day with Paul Bunyan.” We searched a long stretch of the area for several Paul Bunyan attractions.
This Paul Bunyan could “talk,” and scared the crud out of the girls when he said their names. It was a fun day.
In Michigan, Big John welcomes visitors to Iron Mountain Iron Mine for tours. John stands about 40 feet tall and is claimed to be the world’s tallest ore miner.
Hebron’s porch swing would fit nicely on Mackinac Island’s Grand Hotel’s front porch. It’s the world’s largest front porch at 660 feet long. American flags fly from the porch’s columns. It’s a beautiful site in northern Michigan.
The Midwest may be considered “flyover country,” but a few off- the-beaten path attractions that are the world’s largest shine brightly and welcome those who endeavor to travel by vehicles. Sometimes, you have to stop and smell the roses or check out some of the world’s largest attractions.
Have fun checking out these and other “largest” attractions this year. Safe travels in 2016. Now, to start working on our next list of the region’s “world’s largest…”
For more information on these and other attractions, please visit these state visitors bureaus: