Midwestern Roadside Attractions

Whether it’s stunning white sand beaches or luxurious cities, almost anyone you talk to could describe to you the places they would love to see and experience some day- my roommate and I are no different. Sitting in our cramped dorm room, we stumbled upon another one of our many brilliant ideas (which usually strike late at night over a shared box of Cheez-its). ROAD TRIP! We’ll travel across the country and see all the landmarks and beautiful places the states have to offer! This idea got me thinking- National landmarks and beautiful scenery are great, but what about all the random, hidden places across the country- all the odd tourist attractions that spot the states. The Midwest is often referred to as the heart of America… it is here that many of these oddities can be found. This idea inspired me to compile a list of unique “world’s largest” roadside destinations that you can visit in each of the Midwestern states.

Illinois

World’s Largest Ketchup Bottle

We all know that person who uses way too much ketchup, and then of course there’s the people who cannot stand the stuff. The world’s largest Ketchup bottle can be found in Collinsville, Illinois. It stands 70 feet tall on top of a 100-foot stand, and could hold up to 640,000 standard ketchup bottles. The bottle also functions as a water tower, and is a staple of fun and excitement in the small town.

Indiana

World’s Largest Ball of Paint

Though at first glance, a ball of paint doesn’t sound like the most interesting pit stop to make on a road trip, this artifact has a long and unique history. The paint ball found its origins when a local who worked at a paint shop let his son cover a baseball in house paint. Now, the ball weighs two and a half tons! You can be a part of the ball’s history by adding your own coat during your visit!

Iowa

The World’s Largest Gnome

Within the gardens of Iowa State University stands Elwood, the world’s largest gnome. Elwood stands 15 feet tall, and is made up of 3,500 pounds of concrete. Despite facing some tough competition at a mini golf course in upstate New York, Elwood holds the title for world’s largest concrete gnome.

Kansas

The World’s Largest Collection of Smallest Versions of Larger Things

This mouthful of a roadside stop holds residency in Lucas, Kansas. Whenever a world’s largest thing is photographed, this travelling museum creates the world’s smallest version of that thing. It’s a roadside tourist attraction dedicated to roadside tourist attractions!

Michigan

The World’s Largest Cherry Pie Pan

While Michigan did hold the record for world’s largest pie, they were bested in 1992 when by the small Canadian town of Oliver. That being said, Michigan still holds the record for world’s largest cherry pie pan (set in 1985). A giant cherry pie- it doesn’t get much more American than that.

Minnesota

The World’s Largest Crow

The World’s Largest Crow has found its home in Belgrade, Minnesota. While it may seem strange to honor Minnesota with a massive bird, the statue has nothing to do with the bird itself. The bird symbolizes the Sioux Warrior, Chief Little Crow. There is also a small museum located in the pedestal of the bird as celebration of the Minnesota Centennial.

Missouri

The World’s Largest Rocking Chair

The world’s largest rocking chair lies right off of Route 66 in Cuba, Missouri. The chair was created for the sole purpose of breaking the previous world record. The chair is 42 feet tall and made of welded steel. Though the chair does actually rock, the dangers of the ginormous chair swaying in the breeze resulted in it being welded to the ground. Stop by on “Picture on a Rocker Day” and get a chance to experience the sight up close and personal.

Nebraska

The World’s Largest Ball of Stamps

The world’s largest ball of stamps is 32 inches wide and weighs over 600 pounds! After being featured in Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, the ball gained a lot of popularity with some tourists travelling over 100 miles to see it. Though you are allowed to touch the ball, it is prohibited to add to, or take away the stamps already in place.

North Dakota

The World’s Largest Buffalo

Outside of the National Buffalo Museum in Jamestown, North Dakota stands the world’s largest buffalo. The buffalo is made from concrete, standing 26 feet tall and weighing 60 tons! The main purpose of the buffalo was to get those passing through to make a stop in the town. Fun Fact: the buffalo’s rear-end faces the interstate, which was installed several years after the world’s largest buffalo was built.

Ohio

The World’s Largest Rubber Stamp

The massive 49 foot stamp located in Cleveland, Ohio, stands as an ode to the civil war. The giant word “FREE” was chosen as the sculpture is located just across the street from the from the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument of Cleveland. However the sculpture itself came under great controversy as many misinterpreted just what the piece was trying to say. Nonetheless, the giant stamp stands in Willard Park, and it seems as though the people of Cleveland approve.

South Dakota

The World’s Largest Pheasant

Here we are again with another bird. The world’s largest pheasant stands in Huron, South Dakota, and is a representation of the beautiful prairie. The most interesting part about this statue is the legend that goes along with it. It is said that there once was a giant pheasant that every hunter wanted to claim as a trophy. One day, a young boy came across the pheasant, but decided to spare its life. In return the pheasant stands tall and proud so that everyone across the globe will have the opportunity to see the giant bird (along with its smaller offspring). The pheasant stands as a proud staple for the small South Dakota town.

Wisconsin

The World’s Largest Soup Kettle

Located in Laona, Wisconsin, the world’s largest soup kettle stands as a symbol of tradition for a community. The kettle is still in use, and each year there is an event known as “Community Soup” in which people gather to enjoy soup from the kettle together. As more and more people attended the festival, the soup kettle continued to grow. The three-foot-deep pot lies as a symbol of a community bonding over their love for soup.

You can find more information about these locations along with other lesser known roadside attractions by visiting  http://www.atlasobscura.com or http://www.roadsideamerica.com/