World's Largest Buffalo
Jamestown, North Dakota
The World's Largest Buffalo was built in 1959 by Elmer P. Peterson, an art teacher at Jamestown College. He was hired by Harold Newman, a powerful local billboard man who said he wanted "to create something so big and magnificent that passersby would have to stop in the city."
Peterson built the buffalo out of concrete, 26 feet tall, 46 feet long. It weighs 60 tons. Its butt faces the Interstate, which did not arrive until several years after the buffalo.
The buffalo inspired fellow North Dakotan Henry Leuher to build a giant Hereford bull in nearby Pettibone in the 1970s. Both Henry and his bull are now gone, but the buffalo remains. His gonads are in the same all-star category as Albert the Bull (Audubon, Iowa) and Babe the Blue Ox (Klamath, California).
In 2010, after more than 50 years of nameless fame, the buffalo was officially christened "Dakota Thunder."
Surrounding the buffalo are the Pioneer Village and National Buffalo Museum, which has a herd of live bison, including a rare albino, "Dakota Miracle." Her albino mom, "White Cloud," died in 2016; the Buffalo Museum plans to have her stuffed and permanently added to its displays. Live buffalo roam the hillsides beyond, but keep their distance from snapshot-craving tourists. When we asked why, the information booth kid explained, "They're not like dogs."