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Neillsville boasts of Chatty Belle, the World's Largest Talking Cow. Both Ehlenbach's Cheese Chalet in De Forest and the Janesville Oasis claim to have the largest cow in the world. Who is right?
None are the largest in the world, since there's a much bigger one in North Dakota, but we can determine which is the biggest of the three.
Sissy (right) used to talk, but "its voice was shot out" according to an Ehlenbach staff member (I confirmed this in April 2001 by noting the speaker grill under her chin). While there are no known plans to restore her speech (or speaker), she is otherwise a well-maintained monument, a perfect balance for the pink elephant on the other side of the expressway.
This means that Chatty Belle (center) is currently the World's Largest Talking Cow, as far as I know.
Bessie (left) has seen better days. She has duct tape on one of her horns and two of her teats (the duct tape was gone in April 2001). There is graffiti on her rear and in other places. Her paint is a bit faded and chipped. She still keeps silent vigil over the parking lot of the Janesville Oasis, a motel and restaurant and cheese shop and souvenir stand.
Which is bigger? Close inspect of these and other photographs reveals the startling truth: all three cows were made from the same mold! That's right. The giant cows of Wisconsin are clones!
The plate on Bessie's front right inner thigh says that she was manufactured by Sculptured Advertising in Sparta, Wisconsin, and that her serial number is 100. Sissy's plate is the same, but her serial number is 478. Mark Fitzgerald reports that Chatty Belle was also manufactured by Sculptured Advertising, and that her serial number is 109.
28 May 2001 - I discovered two more giant cows in Wisconsin, shown on the second row. The first is in Peshtigo; the second is in Manitowoc.
I don't have names for the two additional cows, and I couldn't find a plate on the one in Manitowoc. The plate on the Peshtigo cow is the same as the other three, with a serial number of 174.
4 July 2001 - I discovered yet another cow! Antoinette has been in Plymouth since 1977, according to the sign. She is in front of what used to be a Borden's dairy. It appears that she has the proper ID plate, but it was painted white and hard to see, since she is on a platform inside a fence. I was too chicken to jump the fence and climb up to see it.
Are the cow clones spreading? Check out the Giant Cows of Georgia and Giant Cows in Other States.
You can read more about big cows at the Roadside America web site.
Pictures and text copyright ©1998-2001 by Craig S. Thom unless otherwise noted.
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