Monday, September 10, 2012

North Dakota roadside attractions: Big, bigger, biggest

Leaving Medora we were on the lookout for roadside attractions.

Grasshoppers in the Fields, second sculpture on the Enchanted Highway. Photo by Debi Lander.
First on the list  was the Enchanted Highway, a stretch south of Gladstone  known for its over-sized sculptures. We turned off expectantly only to discover the first one was 10-plus miles away. We weren't exactly enchanted when the large buck jumping a fence with a smaller doe watching came into view; kind of like an overgrown Christmas decoration.

The next one, over-sized grasshoppers, was a little better but still a long way down the road, more than five miles.

Two young guys were behind us and we asked if they had done the highway before. They hadn't and were less than impressed too. They and we decided to try one  more.

Angler's Dream; they were getting better but we'd seen enough. Photo by Judy Wells.
This, an Angler's Dream, was much more involved with several huge fish, two boats (one with fisherman) and grasses. By this time we had 50 miles invested there and back. With the rest probably spaced five or so miles apart, we decided the enchantment was wearing thin and returned to our eastern route.

New Salem Sue is one big bovine. Photo by Debi Lander.
New Salem Sue, the world's largest Holstein cow, was next. 
Debi tries to hug a hoof. Photo by Judy Wells.
Similar to Paul Bunyan's statue and myth, Sue is extra large; her teats too large to get your hands round. The fiberglass lady weights 12,000 pounds and stands 38 feet high and 50 feet long on top of School Hill, just off Interstate 94. By North Dakota's standards School Hill is a veritable mountain, making Sue visible from five miles away.  
Sue has a great view. Photo by Debi Lander.
We walked up from the parking lot to take photos of the hefty heifer, a much beloved tribute to the region's dairy industry.  You also get a bird's eye view of New Salem, a small town with a population of 950. I was surprised to see a nine-hole golf course to one side of the hay bales and corn fields. Not many golf clubs in the predominately agricultural state.
Sue was constructed back in 1974 by the New Salem Lions Club at a cost of $40,000.  The detour to visit Sue provides an udderly delightful break in your drive and we strongly advise a stop. 
Setting up the e-moo-tional family photo. Photo by Judy Wells.
We liked her and so did the family having their pictures taken underneath the massive bovine.

The next day we had the Jamestown's Frontier Village, the world's largest buffalo and the National Buffalo Museum with its herd, including White Cloud the sacred white bison, to look forward to.

Driving across North Dakota is not a particularly exciting or scenic road trip. Dave Barry summed it up saying, "I like it better when I'm away from it." We good girls are pretty easily entertained and since we stopped to visit New Salem's cow, Sue, we thought a photo of the world's largest buffalo was mandatory. Heck, it was this towns' statue that pushed New Salem to erect the cow!
The sign speaks for itself. Photo by Debi Lander.
So, off we pulled at Jamestown to see the National Buffalo Museum, the giant statue and a herd which included three white buffalo. The world's largest buffalo was, of course, large and brown, but not nearly as exciting as Sue.
We looked at the Frontier Village but kept going. Photo by Judy Wells.
The Frontier Village was very touristy; most of the newly created and aged buildings were stores.
We would have been very safe crossing the field. Photo by Debi Lander.
The sun was wrong to get a good photo of the big buffalo and the herd was nowhere to be seen. When we asked the keeper of the museum he said the herd had 50 acres to roam in and might be anywhere so it was a matter of luck.
Nothing like bison headgear to start the day. Photo by Debi Lander.
We tried it all. Photo by Judy Wells.

We had no luck, spying neither brown nor white bison. Having already gotten up close and personal with the beasts and their history and importance, we declined to pay the entrance fee to the museum's innards but had a ball trying on buffalo head gear in the large shop.

Still, not seeing any of the now three albino bison in the herd was a disappointment.


  1. I would love to add the "World's Largest Buffalo" to our list of the world's largests we've visited. My family has a thing for quirky roadside attractions!

    --Traci from the "Go BIG or Go Home" travel blog

    1. Don't miss New Salem Sue. And Indianapolis has the world's largest children's museum. Can't miss it; giant dinosaurs are crashing through the walls! Judy

  2. Glad you're enjoying North Dakota. You might be surprised the state has the highest number of golf courses per capita (see And Golf Digest ranks ND as the 10th best golf state (see

    1. Wish we'd had time to try them, especially Bully Pulpit in Deadwood. Judy