I’ve seen a lot of corny roadside attractions on my road trips around the United States. There was the Large Rotating Ear of Corn in Coon Rapids, Iowa. There was the Field of Giant Corn Cobs in Dublin, Ohio. And now there’s this: the Agri-Symbol, a 76-Foot-Tall Corn Stalk in Shelby, Iowa.
Just off of I-80 in Iowa is Agri-Symbol Park, a small walking path and picnic area with plants and benches and a gazebo, next to a rest stop and gas station and Old Stone Arch Nature Trail. It’s here that the world’s largest corn stalk lives and, being so tall that it stretches into the sky, it’s visible from the highway and hard to miss.
The giant stalk of corn symbolizes the importance of agriculture, the people who work to produce food, and the pioneers who tamed the corn stalk. A plaque at the site reads:
The Agricultural Symbol has been dedicated to our sincere faith in agriculture as the foundation of our nation. It pays tribure to those who labor long to keep it so: past, present & future.
While the sculpture is deemed the world’s largest corn stalk, it’s more of an art piece than an actual representation. At first glance, the large metal pole resembles an actual corn stalk, complete with a tassel top. But, if you look closer, the leaves, silks, husks, and ears you normally would find have been replaced with outlines of corn, pigs, and cows. This design is meant to highlight and honor the corn, beef, and pork commodities produced by local farmers.
The Agri-Symbol was dedicated on September 16, 1978 and created by Cliff Carlson, a sculptor from Wesley, Iowa.
Agri-Symbol: A 76-Foot-Tall Corn Stalk
Address: 385th St., Shelby, Iowa (visit town’s website)
Hours: Always Visible