roadside attractions

Museum Monday: World’s Largest Cast Iron Skillet

Stuck at the Airport’s correspondent for Museums and Roadside Attractions is planning a summer trip to South Pittsburg, Tennessee for the planned opening of the Lodge Cast Iron Museum.

We’re already intrigued to learn that South Pittsburg, TN has been home to Lodge Cast Iron since 1896. And we’re looking forward to seeing rare cast-iron collections and exhibits about the history of the company, the “making of” cast iron items, and an exploration of ‘Cast Iron Culture.’

Mostly, though, we’re looking forward to seeing the World’s Largest Cast Iron Skillet.

The skillet measures over 18 feet from handle to handle and weighs in at a whopping 14,360 pounds.

World’s Largest Frying Pan

While Lodge Cast Iron may currently lay claim to the World’s Largest Cast Iron Skillet, there have been some contenders over time.

Our favorite is the giant frying pan in Long Beach, Washington.

Created in 1941 for the Long Beach Chamber of Commerce. A pan claiming to be the largest frying pan in America was used in the annual Clam Festival in Long Beach during the 1940s.

Courtesy University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections

According to Pacific County Tourism Bureau, the giant frying pan was created in Portland, Oregon in 1941 to help promote the first annual Clam Festival.

At that time, the pan weighed in at 1,300 pounds and was 10-feet wide and 20 feet tall.

Back then, this was a working pan. During the clam festival, the pan was used to make a clam fritter out of 200 pounds of clams. The creation required two garden hoes and 4 two-foot X two-foot spatulas. The following year, 20,000 people showed up to eat a giant 9-foot clam fritter.

Here’s the recipe if you want to try it at home:

Chef Wellington W. Marsh’s Giant Fritter Recipe

  • 200 pounds of clams
  • 20 dozen eggs
  • 20 pounds of flour
  • 20 pounds of cracker meal
  • 20 pounds of cornmeal
  • 10 gallons of milk
  • 13 gallons of salad oil

The giant frying pan became a tourist attraction. It went on tour throughout the Pacific Northwest and made an appearance in Los Angeles in 1952.

For a long time, the pan hung outside Marsh’s Free Museum in Long Beach (home of Jake, the Alligator Man), but it rusted over the years. Today only the pan’s original handle remains, and the pan’s replacement is made of fiberglass.

The (Not So) Impossible Road Trip

Icy snow is covering our town. So we spent the holiday weekend just dreaming of places we want to go and making a list of new and old favorite sights we want to see in the new year.

The Impossible Road Trip – An Unforgettable Journey to Past and Present Roadside Attractions in all 50 States” turns out to be a great aid to our adventure planning

When the book by Eric Dregni first showed up at our house, we thought the “impossible” in the title meant the book was all about historic roadside attractions and quirky destinations across the United States we’d never get to see.

But now that we look closer, we see that the long-gone spots mentioned here simply offer context for all the corny, quirky, and unique places that are still around.

Like the Big Duck in Flanders, NY. The World’s Largest Buffalo Monument in Jamestown, North Dakota. The Cardiff Giant in Cooperstown, NY, And many places across the country where you can spot statues of dinosaurs, muffler men, and Paul Bunyans

Here’s a look inside the book, which includes infographic maps, themed roundups, and some wonderful photographs taken by the late architectural critic and photographer John Margolies.

We checked to see if some of our favorite attractions in Washington were included and were pleased to the Zillah’s Teapot Dome Gas Station and Seattle’s Hat ‘n’ Boots included. (These photos are not from the book).

Courtesy VIsit Yakima

Pull over for these really big things

Who can resist pulling off the highway when a “World’s Largest…” sign appears?

Not me. And you shouldn’t either. Because these really big things I found for a recent round-up on World’s Largest  things are really great.

Here’s a sampling:

Vulcan, Birmingham Alabama’s colossal statue is the world’s largest cast iron statue.

Albert, the World’s Largest Bull (45 tons, 30 feet tall), in Audubon, Iowa

The Land of 10,000 Lakes is home to the World’s Largest Ball of Twine made by one man. It’s 13 feet in diameter and more than 17,400 pounds.

At the City Museum in St. Louis: a 7 foot tall pair of underpants!

In Huron, South Dakota, the state’s official bird is honored with a 22-foot-tall, 22-ton fiberglass fowl that is World’s Largest Pheasant



Roadside replicas: better than the real thing?

Sometimes fake places are more fun than the real thing.

Here’s a story I put together for NBC News Travel about the allure of visiting roadside replicas.

history museum

Courtesy Las Vegas Natural History Museum

King Tutankhamun’s mummy is missing, and the elaborate ancient murals painted on the wall are detailed copies.

But that is not stopping tourists from lining up to visit the replica of King Tut’s tomb that opened recently in Luxor, Egypt. The alternative tomb was built to protect the original ancient burial chamber, where the sweat and breath of thousands of tourists have taken a toll on the beautiful paintings lining the tomb over the years.

Closer to home, some mimicked world landmarks have their roots in patriotism, whimsy or the absence of an otherwise existing local tourist attraction.

“I would prefer three replicas to one real landmark,” said Doug Kirby, publisher of Roadside America. “Replicas that take some license can be more interesting than faithful reproductions, and often put a unique American stamp on something that belongs to the old world.”

Here are some replica world landmarks worth a visit.

1. King Tut’s Tomb

No need to go all the way to Egypt to see King Tut’s tomb or even the replica. The exhibit that was once at the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas is now at the Las Vegas Natural History Museum. “We have a four-room replica of the tomb filled with recreated artifacts made in Egypt using the same techniques and materials that were used 3,000 years ago,” said museum executive director Marilyn Gillespie.

2. Eiffel Tower

Yes, the real one is in Paris, but in the U.S. there’s a 50-story, half-scale replica of the Eiffel Tower at the Paris Las Vegas Hotel and Casino. In Paris, Texas, there’s a 65-foot-tall tower sporting a bright red cowboy hat put there to make sure this structure was a smidge taller than the one in Paris, Tennessee.

3. The Parthenon

Nashville’s Centennial Park is home to a full-scale replica of the Parthenon in Athens and comes complete with a 42-foot-tall, to-scale sculpture of the goddess Athena. Originally built for Tennessee’s 1897 Centennial Exposition, the Tennessee version of the Parthenon now houses the Nashville Art Museum.

4. Leaning Tower of Pisa

The city of Niles, Illinois, 15 miles from Chicago, is home to the 94-foot-tall Leaning Tower of Niles. Built in 1934 to camouflage several water filtration tanks, the Niles tower is a half-size replica of Italy’s Leaning Tower of Pisa and leans out 7 feet, compared to the Pisa tower’s 13-foot tilt.

5. Statue of Liberty


Courtesy Birmingham Convention & Visitors Burea


While the original Statue of Liberty is a major attraction in New York City, wait times to board a ferry to Liberty Island to see her up close can exceed 90 minutes during peak season. However, there are no lines to deal with at the half-size replica of the Statue of Liberty at the New York-New York Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas or in Birmingham, Alabama, which has a 31-foot-tall replica of Lady Liberty that was cast in the same French foundry as the original.


6. The Mayflower

The original no longer exists, but a full-scale reproduction of The Mayflower is docked at Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The modern-day Mayflower built in 1957 has electric lights and stairs instead of ladders between decks, but it still offers a realistic look at what life was like for the Pilgrims aboard the original 17th-century vessel.

7. Stonehenge

Many temporary and permanent replicas of Stonehenge, the prehistoric monument in Wiltshire, England, have been built around the world. A full-scale replica sits on a hillside near the Maryhill Museum in Goldendale, Washington, and while it looks like stone, it is made of reinforced concrete. Mark Cline’s Foamhenge in Natural Bridge, Virginia, is also a full-size replica, but this Stonehenge is made of Styrofoam. Cline’s full-size Bamahenge in Elberta, Alabama, is made of fiberglass.

“Foamhenge is actually a pretty good version of Stonehenge and does configure astronomically to the original,” said Kirby of Roadside America. But he added that some Stonehenge-inspired spots on the site’s America Unhenged map, such as Carhenge in Alliance, Nebraska, and Truckhenge in Topeka, Kansas, “are closer to folk art and lean more towards a fun and interactive roadside attraction, which can make up for the fact that these are replicas and not the originals.”