Visiting the city of Rothsay, Minnesota to see the World’s Largest Prairie Chicken
One of my quirky interests, as I have travelled around the United States, is to try and see as many “roadside” attractions. Many of these are next to highways, but occasionally we have had to head off the beaten track. During a road trip that passed through Minnesota along I-94, we were lucky to come across one such attraction in the city of Rothsay, the Prairie Chicken capital of Minnesota (not even the World!). It does sound somewhat desperate when a city claims such a title.
Rothsay’s designation as the Prairie Chicken Capital of Minnesota was the bright idea of Gordon Nelson, a wildlife manager for the state Department of Natural Resources, who broached the proposition in a talk to a study club in Rothsay on June 10, 1975.
Art Fosse of Rothsay led the effort to create a giant replica of the greater prairie chicken, a 14-inch grouse, in 1976, contributing equipment and his shop for its construction, while local artist Dale Western took care of the production details. The structure, standing 13 by 18 feet, concrete on a steel frame, weighs more than 9,000 pounds. The monument displays the bird performing the spring mating ritual known as booming, puffing out the orange air sacs on his throat. It was dedicated at a park named for Art Fosse on June 15, 1976. The bird booms beneath an American flag within sight of Interstate 94. Once plentiful in the region, prairie chickens have declined with the loss of tallgrass prairie.
Address: Center St., Rothsay, MN
Directions: I-94 to the Center St. exit for Rothsay. Head south, then make an immediate right. The statue overlooks the exit ramp, in the “Art Fosse Wayside Rest.”
For more information see Roadside America site.