Located in New Salem, North Dakota, Salem Sue stands a mighty 38 feet (12 m) high and 50 feet (15 m) long and can be viewed from several miles around. (Roadside Attraction / USA / United States)
Big Ole, located in the small town of Alexandria, Minnesota, is the purportedly the World’s largest Viking. There is a belief that nordic explorers came to the area in the 1300s, although this probably didn’t happen. As Alexandria wasn’t incorporated until 1858 so there were not many folks around to confirm the visitation of the Vikings. Minnesota is a long way from the coast! In the Runestone Museum, located just across the road from Ole, is a 202 lb sandstone slab that has on one side a series of runes. A Swedish immigrant, Olof Öhman, reported that he discovered it in 1898 – but its authenticity has since been questioned.
Ole was built in 1965 as an exhibit for the New York World’s Fair. When completed Ole stood 28 feet tall with the words, “Alexandria, Birthplace of America” emblazoned on his shield. On the completion of the World’s Fair, Ole was shipped off to Alexandria, Minnesota where he was erected on a small traffic island.
Big Ole has not had an easy life since he arrived in Alexandria. He has been shot by flaming arrows when dressed as Santa Claus, that set him alight, had his sword pulled off, and at times has had an additional item of anatomy attached between his legs! In 1966 the giant Norseman was hit by a freak windstorm that knocked him sideways.
In 2002, Alexandria moved Big Ole a couple of blocks to a more restful and fitting location on the shore of Lake Agnes. In 2015 the city raised $26,000 to repair the numerous cracks that have appeared in his body over the years. This should guarantee that Big Ole is around for many years to come!
If you are travelling through Minnesota along I-94 I recommend taking a short detour into the town of Alexandria to visit this enor-Norseman!