Old Ben, World's Largest Steer
When Old Ben was Newborn Ben in 1902, he was the largest calf in the world and "an object of wonder," according to a sign in front of his stuffed carcass. He lived and grew, and grew, on a farm about a dozen miles north of Kokomo. By the time he was four he already weighed over two tons.
Ben was the most famous animal in Indiana when he fell and broke his leg in early 1910. The doctor who was called to help Ben shot him. Ben weighed nearly 5,000 pounds, he was over 16 feet long, and "his tongue filled a dishpan," according to the back of an old Old Ben post card. His hide was stuffed and mounted on wheels for easy transport. His body was ground into several hundred pounds of Indiana frankfurters.
Old Ben's owners exhibited their dead prodigy for a few years, then either donated or sold him to Kokomo's Riverside Park. Ben went into semi-retirement, emerging periodically from storage to pose for publicity photos, particularly during World War II with 20-year-old bathing beauty Phyllis Hartzell, an image that circled the globe with American GIs.
It wasn't until 1989 that Old Ben again became a full-time public attraction, when he was placed inside a glass-enclosed pavilion next to the World's Largest Sycamore Stump, his wheels hidden by hay. In 2004 some morons broke in and stole Ben's tail. It was so long that three normal-size steer tails had to be stiched together to create a new one.
In 2015, on the day after Thanksgiving, the public was invited inside the pavilion for the first time to get up close to Ben, a tradition that we hope continues.
No one could ever explain why Old Ben was so large, but both he and the Stump are excellent ambassadors for the ecosystem of Kokomo, real versions of the fake giant vegetables and animals seen on vintage post cards. They grow 'em big here.