BIGGEST GREATEST LARGEST
The udder with its thick veins hangs heavily above the village of New Salem. Even from a few miles away, it is hard to miss: Salem Sue, the world's largest Holstein Cow, 12 meters high, 15 meters long. The fiberglass bovine overlooks the frugal landscape from a hill. The traveler can leave the Interstate 94 here. If he wants to. Exit 127. Welcome to remote America.
10,000 kilometers through North- and South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois. The Midwest. Heartland. DNA of USA. The truths are tough here. More and more elderly, barely jobs, crumbling infrastructure. A lot of Mother Nature. Little economic future. Small-town America is dying. Let it die!?
Everywhere the same peculiarly phenomenon. Small even tiny communities claim to be the home of something really big: Pipestone owns the world's largest peace pipe; the booming Prairie Chicken of Rothsay proudly weighs four tons; Dunseith's Giant Tortoise consists of 2,000 car rims; the steel cross of Effingham rises 60 meters skyward. The largest coffee pot, the largest six-pack beer, the largest strawberry, the largest letter M ...
Of course, this is advertisement, a call for tourists. But essentially, it's about identity. For the people living there, it is also a matter of heart and soul. Sometimes it seems like a desperate attempt to tell of the uniqueness and importance – the greatness - of a place and its residents. People need that sense of meaning for their own existence, for a place on the map in the somewhere. Even if the greatest thing is perhaps the least the community still has to offer.
These alleged attractions are tragicomic landmarks. They tell about the American psyche.