day 48
darwin, minnesota

"Enh. No... That doesn't sound very appetizing."
- k, to waitress.
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Ball Basics:
Circumference: 40 ft.
Height: 11 ft.
Diameter: 12.9 ft.
Weight: 11 tons

Claim to Fame: Named the World's Largest Twine Ball Made by One Man in the 1991 Guinness World Book of Records.

Creepy Background Expression of the Day
Inter Twines:
The Film Crew

Sound Engineer: Bethany
Dir. of Photography: Crystal
Prod. Assistant: Tera
Director & Producer: Katy
Lighting: Josh (not in photo)

Project: To produce a documentary about how something as ridiculous as the ball of twine can bring a town together, while at the same time, creating a rivalry between Minnesota and Kansas, the dueling twine giants. It's got everything: conflict, romance, and best of all, it's got balls. Look for it at Sundance 2003.
Rejected Titles for this Page:
Having a Ball
Water into Twine
Twine Tower
A Town with Balls
Troubled Twines
Let the Good Twines Roll
We've done 10,000!
We hit the big ten-oh-oh-oh just outside of French Lake, Minnesota!

That would make it 10,000 kilometers without a check-up! Go Mel!

The Twine of Our Lives
Oct 13 - The Largest Ball of Twine in the World* has been a goal of ours since we began this trip. It was close enough to Canada that our friends would be able to meet us. Our last words of goodbye in August were "See you all at the Ball of Twine*!" As it turned out, only Dean was able to make it (more on the eligible Dean Johnson tomorrow) and even he couldn't make it until late into the evening. We thought we'd be doing the twine* alone.

Luckily, we weren't the only ones sucked into the gravitational pull of the World's Largest Ball of Twine [built by one man]. When we arrived there was a veritable flurry of activity: a film crew from the University of Southern Illinois, and a guy on a bike! We were all there for one thing: the Largest Ball of Twine*.

It's well worth the attention it has brought the small town of Darwin. Weighing in at nearly 11 tons, it's enough of an accomplishment for the town to have encased it in a glass atrium and celebrate the twine* in a yearly festival. The festival, we missed. The twine*, on the other hand, is impossible to miss.

How the Twine* Became a Ball
The creator of the ball was Francis A. Johnson - born in 1904 to the late U.S. Senator Magnus Johnson. Francis lived his entire lifetime in Meeker County helping on the family farm, worked for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and then as a self-employed carpenter until his retirement.

Construction began in March of 1950 when Francis wound the first piece of Baler Twine around two fingers. When it was no longer possible to manually wrap the twine, a block and tackle was used. Work on the ball, for all practical purposes ceased in 1979. It was then covered by a steel structure and left for passers-by to view, possibly the most unique part of this is that the twine ball was *MADE ENTIRELY BY ONE PERSON who saw himself to be a self-made man and he was proud of his accomplishments.

Francis willed the Twine Ball* and his vast collection of farm implements, tools and large array of other collectibles to be preserved by a responsible historical group. It was his desire that it become a part of Meeker County history. The village of Darwin expressed great interest in having the Twine Ball* remain as part of their community, for in a sense, the Twine Ball* had put Darwin on the map. The decision was made for the Ball of Twine* to remain in Darwin and that's where it has stayed ever since.

What's this? There's another Ball of Twine?
Bet your bottom dollar there is. We learned from Katy and crew that this isn't the only Largest Ball of Twine in America. The other is located in Kansas! The only difference between the twines is that the Kansas ball was created by the town, not *MADE ENTIRELY BY ONE PERSON. Who's got the Largest Ball is a hotly contested issue between the two towns as each tries to outdo the other.

Are we going to find the other Largest Ball of Twine in the World?

We'll meet you there.

Profiles in Courage:
Meet Eric Thomann, Worldwide Bicyclist

From: Brooklyn, New York
Occupation: DVD Producer, Central Park Media
Age: 52
Hobby: Cycling around the world
Goal: To finish before he's 70.

When did you start? 18 years ago, I was in Europe. I purchased a 3 speed Raleigh bike and rode from Brussels, Belgium to Switzerland. That was 1967. I'm still riding the same bike.
Are you doing it all at once? I'm doing it in chunks. For example, I've already done Seattle to Billings in a previous year, and I've ridden Minneapolis to Chicago for an AIDS ride, so this year I'm patching the hole between Billings and Minneapolis. This will complete North America: Seattle to Prince Edward Island.
What's your route? I've done across Iceland, then some of the Arctic Circle, which gets me across the Atlantic Ocean, then from there, Scotland, Antwerp, Switzerland, France, Austria... Just last summer I did Vienna to Bucharest.
Try Eric's 30 Mile Pasta!
Angel Hair Pasta, Peanuts, Raisins, Dried Cranberries

Throw it all into a tupperware container, fill it with water, strap it to the back of the bike and ride for 30 miles. Ding! It's done!

"An Edible Slurry of Carbs!"
Do you have a schedule? I'm trying to do about 500 miles a year. This stretch from Billings to Minneapolis is 854 miles, and by the end of this year I should be up to 2000 miles, which actually puts me about 8 years ahead.
Any words of wisdom? I was on the Brooklyn Bridge when the first plane hit the World Trade Center. I almost cancelled my trip to Billings, but then I thought, No. I'm still going to do this. You've got to keep going.

Email Eric and cheer him on!

changing twines...

Twine Castle

Read the Fine Print

All Aboard for Twine!

Limited Visibility
more photos in the archive...

Current Location
(get out your push pins)

Darwin, MN

Next Stop: Mall o' America!

see the full map...

Today's Weather:
Straight Up Crap

Daily Stats
Bumper Sticker:$1.00
Replica of Ball:$2.00

Sleeping Quarters
Ann Lake Campground

Site 20. Dean made it! He found us! Now he gets to sleep in the tundra just like us!

Cost: $9.00

Rib Mtn S.P., WI
Both:Special K Red Berries
Twine Ball Inn
Darwin, MN
K's Order:Bacon Cheeseburger
A's Order:Grill Cheese & Fries
Ann Lake
K's Order:Sausages, Beans
A's Order:Sausage, Beans
D's Order:Sausages

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It has been 3 days since our last shower.
© 2001. Kevin Beimers and Aimee Lingman. If we lived here, we'd be home by now.