The biggest ball of twine in Minnesota, although funny, isn't a joke. It is the largest ball of twine ever made by a single person -- a rather strange man named Francis A. Johnson. He collected all sorts of things, from twine to obsolete farm tools.

The twine ball is ensconced in a glass shrine in the small town of Darwin. It weighs 17,400 pounds, and is not round. Gravity has flattened it into an ellipsoidal solid eleven feet tall and thirteen feet across. It's not pretty, folks, kind of a diseased brownish-gray. It's also probably no longer twine. Since the oldest twine in the ball is more than fifty years old, odds are that if you cut the ball open you'd find either sentient mildew or dust.

On our honeymoon, Noteponymous and I made a point of visiting the twineball, although we did not eat at the nearby Twine Ball Inn. It's in impressive monument to one man's monomania, and, flaws notwithstanding, an enduring piece of Americana.

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