World’s Largest Buffalo Statue

Located in Jamestown, North Dakota is the “World’s Largest Buffalo”, a sculpture of an American Bison, built by local businessperson Harold Newman in 1959. From Interstate 94 it can be seen overlooking the city above the James Valley river. This statue is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Jamestown and the one that gave Jamestown its nickname, “The Buffalo City”.

The statue stands at 26feet tall and 46feet long and weighs 60 tons and was built by sculptor, Elmer Paul Peterson, an art instructor at Jamestown College. The Idea for the buffalo was conceived in 1957 by the Jamestown Chamber of Commerce tourist promotions committee. Elmer Paul Peterson designed and oversaw the construction of the monument from beginning to end.

The Buffalo was constructed with cement and stucco covering a steel beam frame formed with wire mesh. Its construction cost $8500 and an overrun from the initial estimates came close to $4600. The $11,000 cost of the project was underwritten by the Jamestown Chamber of Commerce and the city of Jamestown.

The sculpture was built to commemorate the numerous herds of American bison’s that used to roam the prairies of North America. The inspiration for this gigantic monument came from another colossal tourist attraction, The Statue of Paul Bunyan, in the upper midwest. The Buffalo monument was dedicated in 1960 by then-Governor Nelson Rockefeller of New York City in a ceremony that attracted national attention.

In 1965, “Frontier Village”, an old west town, was built next to the World’s Largest Buffalo sculpture. Some of the sights at Frontier Village include a grocery store, wishing well, Midland and Northern Pacific caboose, schoolhouse, church, barbershop, jailhouse, mine shaft, printing shop, post office, train depot, log cabin, art salon, souvenir shop, and fire department with three old fire trucks.

This sculpture is complete in terms of detail. It is also anatomically correct, having been modeled after an adult male bison in mid-stride. When you visit this sculpture, be sure also to visit the National Buffalo Museum where you will learn about the history of the American Bison. In this museum, you’ll also find a buffalo herd and a rare-albino buffalo breed which they named “white cloud”.