Yet another of the destinations we want the bus to take us to is Darwin, Minnesota. ‘But why?’ you might ask, never having heard of this significant location. The answer, my friends, is that Darwin is the home of the Biggest Ball of Twine (Rolled by One Man). Other places may vie for the ‘Biggest Ball’ title, but so far, Darwin’s holds the moral high ground by making it a single individual’s work (read more on the others here).
The ball is 12 feet in diameter and weighs 17,400 pounds. It took Francis A. Johnson 29 years to complete, and he was apparently a stickler for turning the ball so that the windings would keep it circular (though it is reportedly sagging a bit since becoming a permanent exhibit). The production of the ball was also apparently responsible for his death from accumulated twine dust.
And the Twine Ball Museum is open during the Twine Ball Day celebration, and by appointment (it also houses some baseball memorabilia). That’s right, on the 2nd Saturday in August there’s a festival around the celebrated ball, which includes a Twine-K runn and the Minnesota Minn-e-Rods tractor pull, which takes place on Main Street where competitors find out who has the strongest lawn tractor (and you can check out their Facebook page – it doesn’t seem to get much traffic) .
All that said, Darwin (located about 60 miles almost due west of Minneapolis) isn’t too close to any of our other current destinations, though it could be a nice stop on our way out to the Badlands area and the Black Hills of South Dakota. Luckily, there are a few places that look like viable overnight spots for the bus, like the Lakedale Campground, about five miles away, the Lake Ripley Campground about 10 miles away (though it’s a first-come place – they don’t take reservations), or the Cokato Lake RV Resort, about fourteen miles away.
And yes, the inspiration for this travel destination was Weird Al Yankovic’s 1989 song “The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota,” which if you haven’t seen it, is here for your listening enjoyment: