Webster, South Dakota: Shoe House, World's Largest Hairball

The shoe collection of Mildred Fiksdal O'Neill is displayed in a shoe-shaped building. Part of a larger, mostly normal museum, but it does have a giant hairball and other oddities.

Museum of Wildlife, Science, and Industry

Address:
760 W Highway 12, Webster, SD
Directions:
Museum of Wildlife, Science, and Industry. U.S. route 12, west of Webster, north side of the road.
Phone:
605-345-4751
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
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Museum of Wildlife, Science, and Industry

There are 23 buildings of somewhat random, yet organized, historical items. Old cars, tractors and farm implements, homewares, a post office, a blacksmith, a jail, etc. There's also a large collection of taxidermy animals you will never get to see close up again. The tour is self-guided. We did it in a little over an hour, but you could take longer depending on the crowd.

[Lisa Wiese, 08/09/2020]

One of the 23 buildings is shaped like a shoe, and one of the many oddities in the museum collection is a Giant Hairball.

Baby in a bath tub.

World's Largest Hairball

Not only does this museum house the World's Largest Hairball, an Iron Lung and the Shoe House. But a closer look reveals dozens of other oddities, including a collection of items found after the County Courthouse burned down around 1960. Item number 14. In a small glass vial: "Appendix of Prisoner."

[Al Bartell, 06/10/2010]

Permanent Wave Machine.

Giant Hairball

An utterly charming surprise. There is such a large assortment of antiquities and gewgaws it just boggles the mind. One of my favorite things was reading an actual grocery accounts book from the early 1900's and of course the giant hairball.

We were greeted by an off season school teacher who was beyond informative and friendly and answered all of the fun and silly questions we could think of. She has spent hours and hours organizing, researching and labeling oddities which are not to be found anywhere else.

[T. Drombolis, 07/23/2007]
World's largest hairball - Museum of Wildlife, Science and Industry

The Shoe House was slightly disappointing, but the museum is worth a visit for the many building scattered haphazardly across the lot. Apparently children who do not want Pa's collection of pens or old farm equipment, and occasionally even his house, will have the whole thing carted off to the museum. We spent several hours gaping at the random collections of collections, but perhaps the most thrilling of all was what purported to be the World's Largest Hairball.

[Kate Thompson, 05/16/2004]

Shoe House.

Shoe House and Science Museum

This museum is worth visiting just for the name. The sign on the front proclaimed it to be the "Museum of Wildlife, Science and Industry of Northeastern South Dakota," I suppose to distinguish it from all those other Museums of Wildlife, Science and Industry in other parts of the state.

The museum complex includes several buildings filled with antique furniture, cars and farm equipment, as well as a poor man's Greenfield Village of dislocated 19th-century buildings: a one-room school, an old country store, an old wood-frame jail, etc.

There is the Shoe House, a shoe-shaped building that held a disappointingly small collection of shoes. (The ticket seller told me that I should visit this if for no other reason than it was the only air-conditioned building on the premises.)

The museum also has a large collection of African big game hunting trophies, including a giraffe, elephant and miscellaneous antelope.

However, the major highlight for me was an old iron lung. For my money, no such museum should be without one.

[Nathan L. Forrider, 10/06/2002]

Nearby Offbeat Places

International Vinegar MuseumInternational Vinegar Museum, Roslyn, SD - 11 mi.
Tiny Church for TravelersTiny Church for Travelers, Henry, SD - 33 mi.
Nicollet Tower: See Two Other StatesNicollet Tower: See Two Other States, Sisseton, SD - 29 mi.
In the region:
Storybook Land, Aberdeen, SD - 49 mi.

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