World's Largest Sycamore Stump
Kokomo is known as the "City of Firsts," a civic claim made by other towns, though likely not with the conviction of this mid-Indiana hub of innovation. For the record, Kokomo boasts it is the birthplace of the FIRST push-button car radio, the FIRST Dirilyte golden-hued tableware, and the FIRST aerial bomb with fins. Other Kokomo firsts include the pneumatic rubber tire, the carburetor, the mechanical corn picker, and canned tomato juice. The Elwood Haynes Museum celebrates the inventor of stainless steel, once a Kokomo resident.
So it should be no surprise Kokomo is the FIRST city to turn a giant sycamore tree stump into a monument and encase it in glass. In fact, it's the World's Largest Sycamore Stump, 57 feet in circumference and 12 feet high. Once a massive Sycamore tree shading Kokomo, it was nearly 800 years old before storms broke it down. The stump survived and extended its role as a Kokomoan gathering place. For several years, a telephone booth, large enough to accommodate more than a dozen people at a time, was housed inside it.
The stump has been displayed in Highland Park since 1916. Next door is a similar wood and stone shelter housing Old Ben, the stuffed steer, in the park since 1919. The double attraction makes this well worth the stop.
We can't fathom why, among all the city's FIRSTS, the steer and the stump are maintained in such singular places of honor. Perhaps arboreal spirit ceremonies are conducted around the base of the stump, or local politicians kick off reelection campaigns here. As the photo's yellow Desert Storm ribbon suggests, yes, this was the FIRST Stump to Support Military Intervention in Kuwait during the Gulf War.