Salem, ND – The World’s Largest Holstein Cow


The Small Town:           Salem. North Dakota              Population 946


The Claim To Fame:     Salem Sue – The World’s Largest Holstein Cow


I’m pretty sure that Johnny Cash had a song about a cow named Sue. I could be wrong, but I rarely am. Those that have seen Sue know that she is well worth singing about. Of all of the oversized roadside attractions in North Dakota, she is the largest.  Measuring in at a whopping 38 feet tall and 50 feet long, she is larger than any of the other large turtles or fish or buffalos that the state has to offer. She is visible for miles around and, when standing at her hooves, one gets a wonderful view of the surrounding North Dakota countryside.


Her promoters claim that she is the world’s largest Holstein cow.  Fake cow anyway. I’ve done a little research and believe they might be missing out on a golden opportunity to claim that she is simply the world’s largest cow of any breed.  I’ve Googled the heck out of it and, for the life of me, I can’t find a larger cow of any sort on the planet earth.  And we all know that if you can’t find it Googling it, it doesn’t exist.

Here’s a nice video of Sue.
Sue is, as I said, a fake cow.  I starting wondering how big the world’s largest real cow is.  I know this blog entry is about Sue and I don’t mean to steal her thunder, but my mind gets wandering and, if I want to talk about real cows, I can.  It’s my blog.  You’re free to stop reading at any time.


The world’s TALLEST real cow is Chili, a black and white Friesian bullock that weighs well over a ton and stands 6 feet 6 inches tall. Chili —à


The world’s LARGEST or heaviest cow was a Chianina bull from Italy named Donetto that weighed in at an amazing 3840 pounds.

Small Town Claim To Fame – Jamestown, ND – The World’s Largest Buffalo



The Small Town:  Jamestown, North Dakota       Populaton 15,427 (2010 Census)


The Claim to Fame:  Dakota Thunder – The World’s Largest Buffalo


Sixty tons of steel and concrete, 26 feet tall and 46 feet long, the world’s largest buffalo sits massive and solitary on a hill overlooking the prairie in Jamestown, North Dakota.  A fitting tribute to the North American bison if you ask me. Many, if not most, roadside attractions are a bit cheesy and silly.  Tommy Turtle is a good example.  Dakota thunder, (I can call him that now since he was recently named) on the other hand, always seemed a bit realistic to me. I’ve been face to face with couple of buffalo and this sculpture captures the amazing strength of this animal very well.

He always seemed sort of sad to me, as if he was looking out over the prairie, remembering the days when the buffalo ruled this turf in herds stretching to the horizon.  Or it could be he’s sad because of the annual humiliation he is subjected to at the hands of mischievous students from the local high school.   Dakota Thunder, you see, is anatomically correct and it was (maybe still is?)  a tradition for the graduating class of Jamestown High school to paint these anatomically correct male parts the school colors of black and white. I’m not sure whose job it is to paint the buffalo’s, uh, stuff, back to the original color, but I would guess they don’t do it during business hours. This means some guy probably has to work late one night each year, telling his wife that his truck wouldn’t start or the hooves needed a late night touchup.

Small Town Claim to Fame – Rugby, North Dakota – Geographic Center of North America





The Small Town: Rugby, North Dakota Population 2,876 (2010)

The Claim to Fame: The Geographic Center of North America

Some claims to fame require some effort, such as a state championships in basketball or building the world’s largest buffalo or the largest quilt. Other claims to fame are just dumb luck. Such is the case with Rugby, North Dakota, the geographic center of North America. Rugby just happened to be in the right place at the right time.

Or was it?

There are those who say that, in spite of the big stone obelisk and all the t-shirts and post cards, this particular king has no clothes, that the actual geographic center of North America is actually in Balta or Orrin, North Dakota. Or out in the middle of nowhere in the middle of a slough. Depending on how you define North America, the center of the continent may actually even be in South Dakota. Pierre, South Dakota once made the claim in the 80’s and Rugby quickly threatened them with a law suit.

In Rugby’s defense, the real experts say that pinpointing the actual center is impossible due to a number of factors, and Rugby is as good a guess as any. Let’s just keep the big pile of rocks in Rugby for now and congratulate the community on being at least somewhere “near” the center of North America.

Small Town Claim to Fame – Blanchard, ND – KVLY TV Mast

The Small Town: Blanchard, North Dakota – Population 26.

The Claim to Fame: The KVLY TV Mast


I have always been fascinated by the structure now known as the KVLY TV mast. In my teens, when it was known as the KTHI TV mast or simply, the KTHI tower, I liked to occasionally take the back roads on a weekend trip to Fargo just to stop by and marvel at it. If I was traveling with someone who had never seen it before, it was always fun to stop about 12 miles away and, ask them to guess how far away it was. A typical answer was 2-3 miles.

towerAt 2063 feet, it is currently the tallest manmade structure in the U.S and the third tallest in the world. From 1963 to 1974 it was the tallest structure in the world. In 1974, the final segment of the Warsaw Radio Mast in Poland was completed, making it the new record holder, beating MY tower by a measly 58 feet! My tower was now in second place! I almost booked a flight to Poland with a hacksaw. As it turned out, this wasn’t necessary. The Warsaw tower collapsed of its own accord in 1991 and the KTHI tower was once again the world champion! Records will show that I was at a UND Fighting Sioux hockey game that evening and had nothing to do with the structure’s failure.

It wasn’t until 2010 that the amazing Burj Khalifa in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, stomped all over The KVLY tower with a final height of 2722 feet. Since then, another tower, in Tokyo, Japan, the Tokyo Sky Tree, has been completed, bumping my tower back to a still respectable third place in the world.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the KXJB TV mast, just a few miles down the road near Galesburg, North Dakota, is only four feet shorter than the KVLY tower. One day, in July of 1998, a crew that had just finished repairing this tower, temporarily affixed a 4 foot flagpole to the top and, for a few glorious days, it was the world’s tallest manmade structure.