Paul Bunyan, Ball of Twine & Other Highway Highlights

By Erica Wacker

Jolly Green GiantWhen driving through Minnesota, don't be surprised if you come across something claiming to be the "world's largest" of its kind. From animals to mythological creatures to the infamous ball of twine, roadside attractions are almost as common as the state bird. Seek out these one-of-a-kind sights on your next road trip.


Running east-west across the southern part of the state, this highway is chock full of photo stops. Near the Wisconsin border, the Culvert Man -- a 30-foot-tall cowboy made out of corrugated metal -- watches over his namesake family business, Nodine Culvert Sales. About 150 miles west in Blue Earth, the Jolly Green Giant stands 55 feet tall with 6-foot-long feet.

Less than a mile away is the Golden Stripe, a slab of gold-tinged concrete that signifies where the paving crews met when creating I-90, America's longest road.

Highway 371

Paul BunyunPart of the Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway, Highway 371 is lined with homages to this beloved character. Starting in Brainerd, you'll see a Paul and Babe the Blue Ox statue that was recently refurbished. A few miles west are his footsteps in what is now a Kohl's parking lot. Continue north to find another Babe in Nisswa, Paul's oversize chair and another Paul in Pequot Lakes, another pair of footprints in Pine River, and Paul's girlfriend, Lucette, in Hackensack.

For the most famous Pauls, head further north to Bemidji to see the sculptures of him and Babe from the 1930s (pictured), or go east of downtown Brainerd where the statue outside Paul Bunyan Land may speak to you by name.

Highway 12

family_twineball0011.jpg 880x432.jpgHeading west from Minneapolis, the first attraction to check out on Highway 12 is a big chicken outside the BP station in Delano. Travel 30 more miles west to hit the jackpot of roadside attractions: the world's largest twine ball rolled by one man. It took nearly 30 years for the creator to roll the 9-ton, 12-foot-wide ball, which lives in a gazebo to protect it from the elements.

Keep heading west to see a golden Indian chief statue in Willmar and Paul Bunyan's anchor -- a giant piece of granite -- just east of the South Dakota border in Ortonville.


Vining Sculpture ParkA concentration of sights can be found along I-94 near Fergus Falls and Pelican Rapids. On the south end of Fergus Falls you'll find a giant surveyor's tripod marking the continental divide. Otto the big otter is among the highlights in the town of Fergus Falls, and up the road in Rothsay is a 13-foot-tall prairie chicken.

Take a detour up Highway 59 to see the world's largest pelican in Pelican Rapids, or head east on Highway 210 to visit the quirky Nyberg Sculpture Park in Vining.