September 18 2009 by Sam Lowe
As a youth, I started taking photographs of big things. Big houses, big horses, big statues. Then, during middle age, the hobby was raised to the next level - pictures of world's largest things. And now that I am mature, perhaps even older than that, I look back on those I've seen and photographed, and look forward to getting more under my belt. My list varies but I concentrate on the funky ones that stand as lesser monuments to civic pride.
There's no way I can ever get to all of them because they are in the thousands. Like the world's largest fruit bowl, the world's largest guitar and the world's largest turtle. But I console myself with my personal collection, including these favorites:
North Dakota has a couple of winners. The world's largest buffalo, a 60-ton concrete and steel creation, stands guard over Jamestown. It measures 26 feet high and 46 feet long. To the west, the world's largest cow rises 38 feet on a hillside near New Salem. The fiberglass reproduction of a Holstein weighs six tons.
Right next door, Minnesota boasts a seemingly unending array of world's largests: the animated Paul Bunyan figure in Brainerd is 36 feet tall, wears a size 44 cap and a size 80 boot, weighs 5,000 pounds and speaks to visitors as they approach; Willie Walleye, a monster fish weighing almost five tons, stretches more than 40 feet along a street in Baudette; and a 28-foot tall Viking, complete with sword and axe, holds menacing sway over Alexandria.
Also in the Midwest, the world's largest face gazes over the Black Hills near Rapid City, South Dakota. The Chief Crazy Horse Monument was started in 1945 and still isn't completed, but the face is done and it is impressive - 87 feet, six inches from chin to top. When finished, the entire monument will stand 563 feet tall. Of course, my photos also include the four faces on Mount Rushmore. Not quite as big at 60 feet each, but still magnificent.
Douglas, Wyoming, uses the world's largest jackalope as both a tourist lure and city icon. The concrete statue of a horned jackrabbit is eight feet tall, but there's a move underway to erect an 80-footer on the outskirts of town to attract even more attention.
Arizona, my adopted state, is not only home to the Grand Canyon (the world's largest ditch) but also the world's largest kachina, world's largest skull and the sometimes world's tallest fountain. The concrete kachina stands 36 feet high in north Scottsdale just north of Carefree. The skull is a boulder weighing more than 20 tons that some railroad workers painted to look like Yorick more than 100 years ago. It's about six miles northwest of Congress. The fountain is located, logically, in Fountain Hills. Every hour, from dawn to dusk, it shoots a stream of water more than 450 feet into the air. Other fountains in Illinois and France send up bigger spouts but they operate only sparingly and sometimes not at all, giving the Fountain Hills fountain a legitimate world's largest claim much of the time.
During a visit to Australia, I came across a 52-foot tall pineapple in Nambour, Queensland. It has two stories; the lower level is, naturally, a gift shop.
My alltime favorite, however, is the giant roadrunner at Las Cruces, New Mexico. Located at a rest area just west of the city, the big bird is more than 20 feet tall, 35 feet long and is composed entirely of garbage. The creator used salvaged reinforcing rod to shape a body, then stuffed it full of such things as old tennis shoes, car parts, hub caps, computers and used tires. Even though it doesn't go "beep beep" it is awesome in a funky sort of way.
My list goes on; the actual list goes on far beyond mine.
Do you have any favorites? I'd like to hear about them.