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World’s Largest What?

September 12, 2012 by Hailey Goplen

When I was driving out to North Dakota for the first time, I remember Blake’s family mentioning that we should make sure we stop and see the world’s largest buffalo as we pass through Jamestown, ND. Obviously I was intrigued. In my mind I pictured a massive buffalo roaming the plains of North Dakota. “I wonder how big it really is?” I questioned. “I wonder how much it eats?” I questioned. As we approached Jamestown and began seeing billboards urging us to exit and catch a glimpse of the buffalo, my anticipation only grew.

Just hanging out with the world's largest buffalo

Just hanging out with the world’s largest buffalogrew.

We pulled off I-94 towards where the billboards directed us, and my face was glued to the window scanning the horizon for a giant buffalo grazing the hillside. Before I knew it, there it was. The world’s largest buffalo. How big was it? Huge. How much did it eat? Well… nothing. For in fact the world’s largest buffalo was not a living, breathing animal. Instead, it was a 40 foot fiberglass statue of a buffalo. Now, don’t for a second think I was disappointed. This was still great! A giant buffalo statue was the perfect photo op. As we left Jamestown and the world’s largest buffalo behind, I asked Blake, “Why do you think they have a statue of a giant buffalo?” “Why not?” he replied.

I soon learned that the world’s largest buffalo was not the only large, man-made, creature that stood proudly throughout the towns of North Dakota and Minnesota. In fact, the buffalo is accompanied by a whole stampede of giant animals. And according to,  apparently North Dakota and Minnesota have the densest population of largest animals (and a few other random large objects) than anywhere in the world. Here are a few I found while Googling:

  • world’s largest holstein cow (named Salem Sue) in New Salem, ND
  • world’s largest sandhill crane in Steele, ND
  • world’s largest catfish in Wahpeton, ND
  • The Enchanted Highway in Regent, ND has an entire host of giant animals including a giant pheasant family, a giant deer family, giant grasshoppers, and giant flying geese
  • a giant walleye in Garrison, ND
  • a giant turtle in Bottineau, ND (named Tommy the Snowmobiling Turtle) as well as Dunseith, ND and Turtle Lake, ND
  • a giant otter (named Otto) in Fergus Falls, MN
  • a giant octopus in Minneapolis, MN
  • a giant prairie chicken in Rothsay, MN
  • a giant cod statue (named Lou T. Fisk) in Madison, MN
  • a giant viking name Big Ole in Alexandria, MN
  • a giant muskie in Bena, MN
  • the world’s largest stucco snowman in North St. Paul, MN
  • Babe the Blue Ox and Paul Bunyon in Brainerd, MN
  • the world’s largest corn cob statue in Olivia, MN

And while I now have a new goal before leaving the Northern Plains of visiting as many world’s largest creatures as possible, I still have to ask, why? Why are there so many large statues spotted across North Dakota and Minnesota? Maybe the best answer should simply still be be, why not?


  1. Erika says:

    What about the world’s largest pheasant? Huron, SD

    and though not animals – there is the world’s largest Amoco sign in St. Louis, & the world’s largest catsup bottle in Collinsville, IL.

  2. JX says:

    Don’t forget the giant Amerindian statue in Carrington, ND.

  3. JX says:

    The world’s largest pelican is in Pelican Rapids, MN, and the largest loon is in Vergas, MN.

  4. MJ says:

    Don’t forget to visit the World’s Largest Petrified Wood Park located in South Dakota.

  5. Pam says:

    Growing up, my grandparents house was just below the hill where the Buffalo resides, so it always looked like the Buffalo sat on top of their house!

  6. Brian says:

    This buffalo is actually mentioned in today’s xkcd web-comic (, “Click and Drag”

    Just keep going to the right on the bottom image until you get to the KVLY-TV mast (it takes a while, but it’s there), then go to the top of the mast.

  7. Ah, the big buffalo in Jamestown. Saw it about 20 years ago while traveling to Mandan/Bismarck for a family reunion on my husband’s side. He grew up in the area, moved to Minnesota when he was six. Anyway, our 18-year-old is now back in his dad’s home state, attending…NDSU. We’re getting to know Fargo and I look forward to learning more about the region via your blog.

  8. Carrie says:

    Visit Vining, MN along Highway 210. My father-in-law has several statues in Vining, including the giant foot, an elephant, a giant watermelon and various other statutes that he has made.

  9. Darci says:

    You have to go see Paul Bunyon and Babe in Bemidji, MN. One of my favorites growing up!

    • Mary says:

      I saw Paul Bunyon when I was a kid on vacation! At the Illinois state fair grounds is a huge Lincoln statue.

  10. Lacey says:

    There’s also the world’s largest turkey outside of Frazee MN. It’s only a few miles past Detroit Lakes, right off Hwy 10.

  11. Bill says:

    Hailey, here’s a quick idea for a weekend day trip. Sheyenne Valley Arts and Crafts Association (SVACA) weekend in Fort Ransom ND September 29th and 30th. Check it out at (link is towards the bottom of the page). It’s a neat little town with a Viking statue on a hill just east of town (in reference to this posting;). Take the Scenic Byway South out of Valley City towards Kathryn if you get the chance to go down there. Might take a little longer to get there but it will really be worth it if the leaves are turning.

    • That sounds like a great idea! Thanks for the suggestion!

    • Stephen says:

      Jamie – I love them sooooo much. You catupred exactly what I was looking for, a few moments of cuteness forever frozen in time. I will treasure these photos and the memories of the session and I hope the people I share them with enjoy them. No rush, but I can’t wait to place my order. :)

  12. Heidi says:

    Make sure to visit the worlds largest mallard in Wheaton MN. It’s an hour and a half south of Moorhead on highway 75.

  13. Carla says:

    Here’s just a little added information for your readers about the “Worlds Largest Buffalo”.
    “Dakota Thunder” (as named in 2010) was commissioned in 1959
    by local businessman Harold Newman (Newman Signs) and was built by art students from Jamestown College under the supervision of art instructor and designer Elmer Peterson.
    It is 26 feet tall, 46 feet long, and weighs 60 tons. It was constructed of stucco and cement around a steel beam frame shaped with wire mesh. It was built on a hill close to I94 so it could be seen from the highway. It was the first attraction built at what is now the “Frontier Village”. Since it was buit many more attractions and buildings have been added including the National Buffalo Museum and live buffalo, three of which are true albinos. It has become one of North Dakotas major tourist attractions.

  14. Sabrina says:

    Just want to make a correction, Salem Sue is in New Salem, ND not Salem, ND.

  15. Brian says:

    What?!?!? No mention of the giant prairie chicken in Rothsay, MN? Head about 40 miles east of Fargo on I-94 and get off on the Rothsay exit. Right there on the SW corner of the intersection is the giant prairie chicken. Not sure if it is the world’s largetst prairie chicken tho.

  16. Kristi says:

    There is also a giant pelican in Pelican Rapids MN

  17. Danielle says:

    The Paul Bunyan/Babe the Blue Ox statues are a VERY contested topic in MN. Bemidji is clearly their home, even though the Brainerd statue is prominently featured in the movie Fargo.

    Glad you mentioned “The Big Fish” in Bena. I have to stop there for a picture every time I drive Highway 2 between East Grand Forks & Duluth. I keep the most recent photo on my iPhone. Kinda dumb, but it reminds me of home.

  18. Brent says:

    I’m glad you stopped to admire the World’s Largest Buffalo in my hometown. Even though I live in the Twin Cities now, I still identify with anything buffalo.

    One detail you neglected to mention is that the World’s Largest Buffalo is anatomically reasonably correct. My little sister was mortified when Grandpa shot a photo after having her “Move a few feet to the left. OK, now back up… back up… *click* Got it! Now look straight up!” She was the only one not laughing. :)

  19. Jordan says:

    There’s Paul and Babe in Bemidji, too.

  20. Anonymous says:

    You should add to your list the World’s Largest Ball of Twine made by one man in Darwin, MN.

  21. Jane says:

    WHAT??? You are leaving the Northern Plains??? Say it isn’t so;(

  22. Leslie says:

    Bemidji, MN also has statues of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox.

  23. Andi says:

    Why not, indeed. One theory: there’s nothing else to look at along all our long, straight highways. Be sure to hit up Dunseith’s w’eel turtle–it’s made entirely of wheel rims that have been painted green. Strange, but cool. And if you’re skinny enough, you can slip inside the thing through a gap right above the neck (probably not recommended by the builder, but it’s kind of fun). It would be a nice stop on the way to the Peace Gardens if you haven’t been there yet.

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