The World’s Largest Covered Wagon in Milford, Nebraska has seen better days.
Once upon a time, this Nebraska roadside attraction was a glorious example of mimetic architecture. Picture it. A fine white building, 50 feet long and 50 feet tall, topped with a brown wagon bed and a crisp round cover made from roofing shingles. Four 24-foot wheels, in themselves taller than a lot of giant roadside attractions, bolted to the four corners. A cowboy muffler man, wearing a bright red cowboy hat, almost as tall as the entire wagon, standing by, welcoming visitors to the tourist attraction. And there were visitors, because who could resist veering off the highway to come see.
The World’s Largest Covered Wagon was the vision of Kenneth R. Dahle, who bought the land next to the interstate in 1964. He first built a campground (“Westward Ho!”), then, later, a gas station. In 1976 he began work on this masterpiece, the giant covered wagon, completing it two years later in 1978.
The piece of programmatic architecture was designed to replicate the old covered wagons that crossed the Nebraska plains on the Oregon and Mormon Trails in the 1800s. And it did a mighty fine job at that.
Unfortunately, Dahle passed away in 1993 and the building has been neglected ever since. The gas station closed in 1998. The pumps were removed. The wheels were dismantled. The muffler man was sold. (The muffler man has since moved around the country quite a bit — read the story on Roadside America.)
For a while the novelty building was reportedly converted into a golf shop. But now the giant wagon seems to be empty, completely abandoned.
Today, the giant covered wagon is falling apart, dilapidated. The building has been broken into, broken, with graffiti sprayed on the windows and inside.
It’s hard to say how long the big wagon will remain in Milford. It’s been more than 20 years since the fueling station shuttered. It’s since lost its wheels, its muffler man, and its purpose. Roadside attractions, sometimes, come and go, and many are from the state of their glory days. So be sure to visit while you can, because you never know what the future holds for them.
While you’re in Nebraska be sure to check out these other roadside attractions: Carhenge (a Stonehenge replica made from cars), a camel and Pyramid in Cairo, the Union Pacific Big Boy Trains, the World’s Largest Porch Swing, and the World’s Largest Time Capsule.
Also check out another roadside attraction that claims the title of world’s largest covered wagon in Illinois, this one driven by a giant Abraham Lincoln.
World’s Largest Covered Wagon
Address: 965 County Rd 238, Milford, NE
Hours: Always Visible
Cost: Free to See