There’s no bull about it: Albert the Bull, the World’s Largest Bull in Audubon, Iowa, is one fine roadside attraction. You might even say he’s adora-bull!
Albert the Bull has been an icon of the Iowa town of Audubon since he was dedicated on October 21, 1964 at the 14th annual Operation T-Bone. He was conceptualized to represent the booming local beef industry and to be a tourist attraction to draw passersby from the highway. Nowadays over 20,000 visitors visit the Iowa roadside attraction every year, so I would say their mission was a success!
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This roadside attraction was named after Albert Kruse, a local banker at First State Bank who founded Operation T-Bone. In 1951 businessmen were shipping cattle from Audubon County to the best cattle market in Chicago via railroad to promote the local beef industry. Kruse was invited along by shippers but, after hearing horror stories of how uncomfortable the caboose was, he declined with the stipulation that he’d come along if a pullman car was made available.
Arrangements were made to have the 50 carloads of cattle along with three pullman cars for the businessmen and shippers. The story made the rounds from the Chicago Tribune to the London Times and the first Operation T-Bone was celebrated to much fanfare.
That first Operation T-Bone was celebrated with immense local pride in 1951 and every year since the town gathers in September to celebrate with a parade, car show, tractor exhibition, firemen water fights, cook out, and more. Albert was unveiled at the 1964 celebration and dedicated with the name of the man responsible for it all.
This giant bull is a replica of a Hereford bull. But, at 45 tons and 30 feet tall and 33 feet long with a 15-foot span, he’s nine times larger the his real-life doppelgänger. He is made of a steelwork frame (salvaged from abandoned Iowa windmills) covered in solid concrete and painted to resemble the animal.
The only difference between Albert and a real Hereford were his eyes. While bulls typically have brown eyes, this bull had baby blues for over fifty years. And, for over fifty years, local farmers complained. When Albert was repainted in October 2017, so were his eyes and today they are a more authentic shade of brown.
Another striking feature of the big bull are..well…his big bull balls. That’s right, this bull had a honking pair of giant concrete gonads. They make for both a silly tourist photo and a canvas for locals to paint for celebrations and high school sport rivalries.
Albert’s status as an American icon transcends the small town and onto the big screen. Albert the Bull has had a cameo in the movie Beethoven’s 3rd, was featured in a question on Jeopardy, and starred in a 2018 Cenex Super Bowl commercial that proclaimed that the small town was home to a Super Bull of their own.
While giant bull roadside attractions can be found all across the USA (see also the giant bulls in Stewardson, Illinois; Miles City, Montana; and Winston-Salem, North Carolina) none are so big or hold hold so much town pride as Albert the Bull in Audubon, IA.
He’s truly un-bull-ievable!
Watch the Albert the Bull video:
Albert the Bull – the World’s Largest Bull
Address: 115 Circle Dr, Audubon, IA 50025
Cost: Free to See
Hours: Always Visible