World’s Largest

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.

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



Landing at LAX? See the World’s Largest Spinning Record


Passengers flying into LAX can look down at what is being billled as the world’s largest vinyl record, The Eagles’ “Hotel California.” – Courtesy The Forum

There’s one more reason to be thankful airlines no longer tell passengers to turn off small electronic devices, such as cameras, at the beginning and end of flights.

Throughout January, what’s being billed as the world’s largest vinyl record is spinning on top of The Forum in Inglewood, Calif., and the best place to snap a photo is from a plane arriving at Los Angeles International Airport.

The “record” is actually a 407-foot-wide printed vinyl disc and it has been spinning – at 17 miles an hour – since New Year’s Day. It’s there to promote the re-opening of the Southern California concert and event venue after a $100 million renovation and as a tribute to The Eagles, whose “History of the Eagles” concerts begin Jan. 15 and are the first events to be held in the refreshed space. One of the band’s first hits, “Hotel California”, which was released in 1976, is the song being “played” on the rooftop.

About 75 crew members spent their Christmas holiday transforming 5.7 acres of printed vinyl, 2,000 linear feet of curved aluminum and a mile of aluminum truss into the rooftop “record,” “spindle” and “turntable,” according to Pop2Life, the marketing and promotion company that came up with the idea.

But before any of that could happen, the project had to get approval from the Federal Aviation Administration.

“That was due to the fact that The Forum is in the direct flight path for flights arriving at LAX and is only 2.5 miles from the airport, and there are height restrictions on structures or equipment – like a crane – being used to build a structure,” said Erich Murphy, president and CEO of Pop2Life.

The company filed an application with the FAA along with engineered drawings and specifications showing exactly how the record would get built, but Murphy said there were no questions as to whether or not the round, rotating billboard might distract pilots flying overhead.

The Eagles will perform at the Forum Jan. 15, 17, 18, 22, 24 and 25


World’s largest collection of souvenir buildings

What sort of souvenir do you search for in gift shops when you’re stuck at the airport or touring a town?

Some people pick up postcards, shot glasses or magnets.

Not David Weingarten.

On a two-week trip through Europe in the late 1970s, Weingarten received a miniature version of Germany’s Speyer Cathedral as a present from his uncle and tour guide, the noted architect Charles Moore, who also bought a souvenir-sized copy of the building for himself.

The small gift left a big impression. Weingarten, now of Ace Architects in Oakland, Calif., began collecting souvenir buildings in earnest. Today, with his partner, Margaret Majua, Weingarten owns the largest collection of three-dimensional architectural replicas of structures from around the world.

For a feature on’s Overhead Bin, I chatted with Weingarten about his collection.

Q: In addition to that original tiny cathedral, what types of structures are represented in your collection?

A: That cathedral has been joined by replicas of 5,000 other buildings, monuments and human-made places of all sorts and every description — famous and deeply obscure, special and mundane — from around the world. The collection is the most extensive of its type and includes some souvenir buildings made very recently and others made in the early 19th century, which are now 200 years old.

Q: 5,000 souvenir buildings! Where do you keep them all?

A: We used to keep all the little buildings in a small building outside our home. But several years ago, despite some aggressive editing, the collection threatened to spill out of the small building containing them. We made a bigger place for the little buildings.

Q: How do you organize the collection?

A: By place and type. Many of the world’s great cities possess a shelf or two or, in the case of New York, a cabinet. There are sections for the continents, for nations, for world’s fairs and expositions and for a range of arcana, such as American souvenir buildings made in Japan. There are also sections of little buildings turned out as salt and pepper shakers, lamps, coin banks, bookends, smoking accessories, lipstick holders and calendars. You get the idea.


Q: What is the attraction of souvenir buildings for you and for the rest of us who buy and bring them home from our travels?

A: Like some of their full-size counterparts, souvenir buildings work on our memories, very often in unanticipated ways. Miniatures of the Empire State, Chrysler, or Woolworth buildings or the Statue of Liberty make us think of these Gotham monuments; yet, also, more than this. We may remember our last visit, our companions on that trip, people and places seen, a subway ride or maybe a walk through Central Park. Memories prodded by architecture are seldom strictly architectural.

Q: Do you have a favorite souvenir building among the collection?

A: My most-esteemed miniature is a large, late 19th century, sterling silver model of the Bank of England in London. The full-sized building was designed, in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, by the highly eccentric architect John Soane. Interestingly, the model shows the bank as Soane designed it, before some very disfiguring 20th century alterations. That illustrates another appealing quality of souvenir buildings: these slight tourists’ trifles very often outlast the substantial buildings and monuments they represent. This is especially the case with world’s fair souvenirs, which are miniatures of buildings designed with the intention that they would soon be demolished.

Q: And what happened to Charles Moore’s souvenir-sized copy of the Speyer Cathedral?

A: After Uncle Chuck died, in 1993, his house/studio in Austin, including his large collection of architectural models, folk art, books, etc., was transferred to the Charles Moore Foundation. I made off with his cast metal miniature of the cathedral and today, both [souvenirs from that 1970s trip] occupy the same glass shelf in the collection here.

Learn more about the world’s largest collection of souvenir buildings here.

All photos courtesy David Weingarten.

Really big things you can’t – and shouldn’t – miss!

World's Largest Ball of Twine

(Courtesy Linda Clover)

The World’s Largest Ball of Twine. (Cawker City, Kansas)

The World’s Largest Catsup Bottle. (Collinsville, Illinois)

And the World’s Largest Penny. (Woodruff, Wisconsin)

World's Largest Penny

Who can resist making a detour to see this stuff?

Not me.  And you shouldn’t either.

Especially when 14 (possibly 15th by now…) of some of the biggest “can’t miss” things are gathered all together in my “Really Big Things You Can’t Miss” story over on Bing travel.

You can flip through photos of the the World’s Largest Frying Pan, the World’s Largest Egg, the Giant Duck and other cool big things on Bing, but here’s some bonus information about two of the people who helped me gather up images and information for that story.

Erika Nelson, the artist who made the World’s Largest Souvenir Travel Plate for Lucas, Kansas, also shared her photo of the World’s Largest Eight Ball for the story. Look for her out on the road: she travels around the country displaying tiny versions of some of the world’s largest things.

Erika Nelson World's Largest Souvenir Travel plate

And several of the photos in the story are courtesy of Amy C. Elliott who co-produced, with Elizabeth Donius, World’s Largest, a documentary all about small towns with …big things.

Thanks, ladies, for your help!

World's Largest Duck, Flanders, NY