Pack up and ship out: Unique roadside attractions, including geographical center of North America, are just a short drive away
FARGO — Summertime means family time. Children are off from school and adults want to get out and take advantage of the precious, beautiful weather.
Our region is known for a great many things — fertile soil, nice people and phenomenal views — but did you know the region is also home to some of the world's largest roadside attractions?
Many of these attractions may be within easy driving distance of you, so pack some snacks, grab the kids and fill up the gas tank — honey, we are going on a road trip.
1. Journey to the center of the... continent?
Attraction: Geographical Center of North America
Location: Rugby, N.D.
Distance from Fargo: 3 hours, 17 minutes (222 miles)
Did you know? Located in Rugby, the geographical center of North America was calculated and discovered in the early 1930s. Marked by both Canadian and U.S. flags, the 15-foot-tall stone obelisk was moved to its current location when North Dakota widened U.S. Highway 2.
However, some would argue that the privilege of being named the center of the continent actually belongs to those folks living in Robinson, N.D., about 100 miles to the south.
In a 2017 article for the New York Times, Steph Yin describes the unwelcome challenge Rugby faced when Hanson's Bar in Robinson staked its claim to the title. After Rugby let its trademark lapse, bar patrons at Hanson's raised the $350 needed and purchased the trademark in 2015.
In 2017, a professor from the University of Buffalo in New York ran some new calculations and determined the geographical center of North America was in neither of those towns. In fact, the geographical center of North America is located, ironically enough, in Center, N.D. , about 140 miles southwest of Rugby.
2. World's largest what?
Attraction: World's Largest Buffalo
Location: Jamestown, N.D.
Distance from Fargo: 1 hour, 31 minutes (97 miles)
Did you know? Built in the late 1950s by Jamestown College art teacher Elmer Peterson, the world's largest buffalo (officially named "Dakota Thunder" in 2010) is 26 feet tall, 46 feet long and weighs over 60 tons. It is built out of concrete and stands with its rear end facing the interstate.
Surrounding Dakota Thunder is the Pioneer Village and the National Buffalo Museum , which includes a herd of live bison.
3. Now that's a whopper!
Attraction: World's Largest Catfish
Location: Wahpeton, N.D.
Distance from Fargo: 56 minutes (45 miles)
Did you know? Found in the Kidder Dam Recreation Area on the banks of the Red River, the world's largest catfish measures in at 40 feet long, 12 feet tall and weighs more than 5,000 pounds. Created out of fiberglass, the fish known as "The Wahpper" is said to look like it's swimming during spring flooding.
4. You otter know
Attraction: Otto the Big Otter
Location: Fergus Falls, Minn.
Distance from Fargo: 1 hour, 3 minutes (61 miles)
Did you know? Roughly 25 miles across the river from Wahpper is Otto.
Built by high school students in 1972 to commemorate the town's 100th year anniversary, Otto the Otter is 40 feet long and made of concrete-covered metal that rings when you give it a knock.
Used as backdrops for picnics and countless photos, Otto is right at home in the land where school mascots, cities and even counties boast the furry, ground-dwelling woodland creature. Located in Grotto Park, Otto overlooks the lake for wonderful views. Just don't try to climb on him — signs posted around the otter state, "Stay off the otter. Not responsible for accidents."
5. Now that's just loony
Attraction: World's Largest Loon
Location: Vergas, Minn.
Distance from Fargo: 1 hour, 3 minutes (61 miles)
Did you know? Commonly found in the (actually more than) 10,000 lakes that make up the great state of Minnesota, this migratory waterfowl is known for its unique calls and one-pair-per-lake nesting habits. But you won't hear any of their famous calls from this big fella.
Perched along the southern shores of Long Lake, the Vergas loon carefully watches over visitors at City Park. At 20 feet tall, the Vergas Loon was built in the 1960s and dedicated to a town postmaster. Vergas calls itself "Home of the Loon" and holds a "Looney Daze" festival each August.
6. Gobble 'til you wobble
Attraction: World's Largest Turkey
Location: Frazee, Minn.
Distance from Fargo: 1 hour, 4 minutes (55.5 miles)
Did you know? Weighing in at close to 3 tons, Big Tom, the world's largest turkey, stands proudly on his pedestal, greeting visitors to Frazee on the western edge of the town.
But he isn't the first Big Tom to stand at the pedestal. In July 1998, while preparing for the town's annual Turkey Days festival, a blowtorch flame caught a leg of the original statue, causing the papier-mache bird to be cooked faster than you can say Thanksgiving football.
The town didn't have to wait long before welcoming a new gobbler to the original pedestal. By mid-September, the brand-new, fiberglass-feathered stand-in took its place.
7. That's a dilly!
Attraction: World's Largest Dilly Bar
Distance from Fargo: 5 minutes (1 mile)
Did you know? To honor the homeland of this chocolate-dipped, swirled, soft-serve ice cream treat, the world's largest Dilly Bar stands proudly along a busy street in downtown Moorhead.
The Moorhead Dairy Queen, 24 Eighth St. S., is one of the oldest and most iconic Dairy Queens in the nation. Credited with inventing the swirly treat in 1955, Bob and Phyllis Litherland created a legacy that lives on long after their deaths — not only in the chocolate, butterscotch or cherry dip the ice cream receives, but in the 12-foot-tall statue that looks over all the patrons that visit the famous location.