North Dakota – Roadside Attractions

North Dakota – Roadside Attractions

On our trip out west last year, we began to appreciate just how vast this country is.  And we also discovered the fun of visiting quirky roadside attractions.  They provided a much-needed break from driving and a reason to get out and stretch your legs.  Stopping to snap a few pictures doesn’t take much time, but it does provide lots of amusement.  After a few stops, we were hooked and began to seek out these fun stops along the road.

My first picture doesn’t quite fit into the category of “quirky”, but it was definitely a roadside stop.  In North Dakota, we drove past fields of sunflowers.  A friend in North Dakota confirmed that these are grown for sunflower oil.  I find sunflowers to be really cheery and I  really wanted to get out and snap some pictures.  We try to grow them at home, but the deer keep eating them.  I wonder if North Dakotans appreciate the beauty of sunflowers, or are they so common that they have become immune to their charm?  I personally think it would be a little weird for someone to stop along the road here in Ohio to take pictures of corn.  Perhaps North Dakotans think it’s weird for me to take pictures of sunflowers.  Weird or not, here’s a picture.

Now, back to quirky.  Travelling along I-94 in North Dakota, the first attraction we came across was Salem Sue, the world’s largest Holstein cow.  Salem Sue is located in New Salem, ND, about 35 miles west of Bismarck.  She stands 38 feet high and 50 feet long.  She is hollow and made of fiberglass and weighs 12,000 lbs.  Take note of how small my kids look standing next to her legs.  Salem Sue was built by the New Salem Lions Club in 1974 to promote the dairy industry.  You can read more about her here.

45 miles east of Bismarck, also along I-94,  you’ll find the World’s Largest Sandhill Crane in Steele, ND.  Her name is Sandy and she stands 40 feet tall, is constructed of steel, and weighs 4.5 tons.  (How about that;  the bird weighs almost as much as the cow.)  In real life, sandhill cranes stand 3 to 4 feet tall.  So why build a crane here?  This area of North Dakota is along the migratory path of many birds, including the sandhill crane.  Read more about Sandy here, and more about sandhill cranes here.  (You can even listen to their different calls.)

The last stop on today’s tour of roadside North Dakota is the World’s Largest Buffalo in Jamestown, about an hour east of the Sandhill Crane, or two hours east of Bismarck.  Built in 1959, it was North Dakota’s first giant roadside attraction.  It stands 26 feet high, 26 feet long, and having been constructed of  steel and concrete, it weighs a whopping 60 tons.  Despite being the oldest of the attractions, it hasn’t been given a nickname.  After the sculpture was built, some other tourist attractions were added to the area including a Frontier Village, National Buffalo Museum, and a live herd of buffalo.  So you can just stop and snap a picture, or stay a while and enjoy the other attractions.  Read more about the buffalo here or about the other Jamestown attractions here.