Aug. 12 2014 06:17 AM

The world's largest cow sculpture calls New Salem, North Dakota home.

Of North Dakota's 18,000 dairy cows, one stands head and shoulders above the rest. That's because she is 38 feet tall, 50 feet long and weighs in at 12,000 pounds. Her name is Salem Sue, and she has the distinction of being the world's largest cow.

Made of fiberglass, Salem Sue was built in 1974 by the New Salem Lion's Club to honor and promote the local dairy industry and the production of high quality milk. Constructed by Sculpture Manufacturing Company of LaCrosse, Wis., she was then transported to New Salem, about 30 miles west of Bismark, in three parts and erected under the direction of artist Dave Oswald. The total cost of the project, approximately $40,000, was donated by dairymen, dairy industry representatives and local residents.

Salem Sue was actually the second giant roadside animal sculpture to be built in the state. The idea to create such a large cow likely came from the extreme popularity of North Dakota's first giant roadside animal? the world's largest buffalo in Jamestown, North Dakota, which was put up 15 years earlier.

The giant cow continues to be promoted and maintained by the New Salem Lion's Club. In addition to representing cows and the dairy industry, she also helps stimulate tourism and bring business to the area.

In my recent travels, I had the opportunity to visit Salem Sue. The statue overlooks the North Salem area and is visible for more than 5 miles around. From her spot right off of Interstate 94, she does indeed serve as a highly visible mascot of the dairy industry to those that pass by her, representing dairy production not only in North Dakota but across the entire country.

Abby blog footer
The author is an associate editor and covers animal health, dairy housing and equipment, and nutrient management. She grew up on a dairy farm near Plymouth, Wis., and previously served as a University of Wisconsin agricultural extension agent. She received a master's degree from North Carolina State University and a bachelor's from University of Wisconsin-Madison.