Location: New Salem, North Dakota (I-94 exit 127)
Height: 38 feet
Length: 50 feet
Weight: 12,000 lbs.
Construction Materials: fiberglass
Special Designation: World's Largest Holstein Cow
Name: Salem Sue
Year Built: 1974
Admission: Free (donations welcomed)
Welcome to the World's Largest Holstein Cow...
Perhaps the most popular of North Dakota's giant roadside animal sculptures, Salem Sue - the World's Largest Holstein Cow, stands large and in charge high above Interstate 94 just outside of the city of New Salem in western North Dakota. Erected in 1974 by the New Salem Lions Club to help promote area Holstein herds, Salem Sue was the second giant roadside animal sculpture built in North Dakota. No doubt the idea to erect such a large cow came from the extreme popularity of North Dakota's first giant roadside animal - the World's Largest Buffalo (Jamestown, North Dakota) erected 15 years earlier in 1959.
Here is the official write up for Salem Sue by the New Salem Lions Club:
"Situated on School Hill between the city of New Salem and I-94 Highway, the cow (38 feet high and 50 feet long) is visible for 5 miles. It was built for the New Salem Lions Club by Sculpture Mfg. Co. of LaCrosse, Wisconsin, transported to New Salem in 3 parts and erected under the direction of Dave Oswald, artist, on New Salem Park District lands. The total cost of the project was approximately $40,000 contributed by dairymen, farmers, businessmen, dairy industry and residents of the area.
It's purpose is to honor and advertise the dairymen of our area, their superior herds and the production of high quality milk.
Salem Sue is known world-wide. She continues to be promoted and maintained by the New Salem Lions. She also helps promote tourism, business and serves to educate and interest our youth in the science of animal husbandry and the benefits of qualities of living in a rural community.
The first Holsteins were brought to New Salem by D.M. Young who owned a store and creamery at Youngtown, a settlement north of New Salem. He sold them to interested farmers, 2 to 3 head each (one cattle car containing cows, heifers, and calves for a total of 27 head).
The Holstein Circuit was first organized in 1908 and 14 members finished the first year's butterfat test in 1910. For many years the production was sold to the New Salem Creamery built in 1896 and the Youngtown Creamery built in 1898, both known for the production of high quality butter.
It was the purpose of the Circuit to encourage better breeding, increased production resulting in a stable, high income for the farmer in the sale of milk, cream, and breading and production stock.
The Circuit obtained enthusiastic assistance and advice from Professor Sheppard and Max Morgan (Extension Livestock Specialists) from the North Dakota Agricultural College (now North Dakota State University - NDSU). Cow testing, feed cost record keeping, breeding records and showmanship were some of the benefits received from the college in addition to the annual celebration which consisted of touring the farms to view and judge livestock, barns, equipment, etc. One year, there were more than 750 people on the tour going from one farm to another. Can you imagine the ingenuity required of the farm housewife for the noon luncheon?
The members of the New Salem Holstein Circuit conducted much of their business by pooling their capital and making purchases of purebred bulls, silos, and milking equipment in large amounts, keeping costs at a minimum, benefits at a maximum, and good neighbor practice and friendship an absolute necessity.
The Holsteins were shown at many fairs, advertising costs were funded by each owner contributing 5% of the selling price of each Holstein to the Circuit. Eventually New Salem Holstein breeding stock had been sold in every county in North Dakota and more states in the Union. New Salem has previously tooted it's horn as being the center of prosperity. The validity of such a claim had its foundation from the production and offspring of such cows as Indi Pens Suprize (produced milk for 14 years), Sally Dekal, Aggie Wayne Segis Pontiac (produced 1003 pounds of butterfat in 1 year), Hegerveld Junette Kaan, etc.
Times have changed some things. Whole milk is now produced and shipped by huge tanker trucks to milk bottling plants and cheese plants instead of butter-making creameries, but the strong progeny of the original Holstein continues it's high return under the careful guidance of the hardworking, persistent and informed dairyman who is an asset to his community, church, the economy and his family."
World's Largest Holstein Cow Fun Facts...
Fact #1: Salem Sue is constructed entirely out of fiberglass and is, therefore, hollow.
Fact #2: Salem Sue is so large that it can be seen from over five miles away.
Fact #3: The same artist that created Salem Sue also constructed the World's Largest Catfish in Wahpeton, North Dakota.
How to Find It...
To find this truly unique North Dakota roadside attraction:
Take EXIT 127 off of Interstate 94,
Go SOUTH towards the town of New Salem for a couple hundred feet,
Turn RIGHT when you see the sign that reads "Enjoy the View from Salem Sue",
Follow the gravel road that winds up the hill to the World's Largest Holstein Cow. You can't miss it, trust me!