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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

Old Ben Drive, Kokomo, IN
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.
RA Rates:
Major Fun
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

World's Largest Sycamore StumpWorld's Largest Sycamore Stump, Kokomo, IN - < 1 mi.
Willie the WhaleWillie the Whale, Kokomo, IN - 1 mi.
KokoMantis, 17-Foot-Tall BugKokoMantis, 17-Foot-Tall Bug, Kokomo, IN - 1 mi.
In the region:
Indiana Medical History Museum: Brains in Jars, Indianapolis, IN - 48 mi.

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