Old Ben.
Old Ben, frozen forever in the act of eating, something that he obviously did very well.

Old Ben, World's Largest Steer

Field review by the editors.

Kokomo, Indiana

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.

Sign tells all Old Ben vital stats.

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.

Vintage size comparison.
Phyllis Hartzell in heels, Old Ben on wheels.

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.

Pet Cemetery.

Also see: Behemoths | Roadside Pet Cemetery | Steer Montana

Old Ben, World's Largest Steer

Highland Park

Address:
Old Ben Drive, Kokomo, IN
Directions:
Highland Park. From S. Wasington St. turn west at the stoplight onto Defenbaugh St. The road turns to brick as you enter the park. At the stop sign, continue straight, cross the little bridge, then bear right onto dead-end Old Ben Drive. You'll quickly see the wood-and-stone pavilion on the left.
Admission:
Free
RA Rates:
Major Fun
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

World's Largest Sycamore StumpWorld's Largest Sycamore Stump, Kokomo, IN - < 1 mi.
KokoMantis, 17-Foot-Tall BugKokoMantis, 17-Foot-Tall Bug, Kokomo, IN - 1 mi.
Story Book Express - Fairytale Convenience StoreStory Book Express - Fairytale Convenience Store, Kokomo, IN - 1 mi.
In the region:
Antique Fan Museum, Zionsville, IN - 37 mi.

More Quirky Attractions in Indiana

Stories, reports and tips on tourist attractions and odd sights in Indiana.

Explore Thousands of Unique Roadside Landmarks!

Strange and amusing destinations in the US and Canada are our specialty. Start here.
Use RoadsideAmerica.com's Attraction Maps to plan your next road trip.

September 27, 2016

My Sights

Create and Save Your Own Crazy Road Trip!

Try My Sights

Roadside America app
Roadside Presidents app

Indiana Latest Tips and Stories

Latest Visitor Tips

Sight of the Week

Sight of the Week

Doug Bast's House of History, Boonsboro, Maryland (Sep 26-Oct 2, 2016)

SotW Archive

USA and Canada Tips and Stories

More Sightings

Sightings. Arrives without warning. Leaves no burn marks. A free newsletter from RoadsideAmerica.com. Subscribe now!
RoadsideAmerica.com Hotel & Motel Finder

Special online rates for hotels & motels.

Book Online Now

 

Favorite Quirky City Sights