World Champion Cow of the Insane
Traverse City, Michigan
Northern Michigan Asylum opened in 1885 and gradually became a sprawling complex on the western outskirts of Traverse City. It was so vast that it had orchards of cherries, peaches and apples, vineyards and vegetable gardens, field crops, and livestock from beef to chickens, horses to pigs. And it had its own herd of cows.
The most famous of these -- the most famous inhabitant, period, of the entire Asylum -- was Traverse Colantha Walker. She was a grand champion milk cow, producing 200,114 pounds of milk and 7,525 pounds of butterfat in her long life. When she died in 1932 the hospital staff and patients held a banquet in her honor. They buried her in a small, grassy knoll, under a granite tombstone, outside of the stately brick dairy barn that had been her home.
The Asylum closed in 1989. The cow's grave is still tucked into a tranquil corner of the grounds, but it may not be tranquil for much longer. The hospital complex is now known as The Grand Traverse Commons, and its buildings are being converted into upscale restaurants and boutiques for the yuppies who now come to this part of Michigan to golf.