Ballin’ with Darwin: World’s Largest Ball of Twine

Estimated read time 3 min read

Welcome to Darwin, (yes Darwin) Minnesota, population 348, home to the world’s largest ball of twine. Nestled in the heart of the state, it was high on our list to visit while in Minnesota for the Frozen Four College Hockey Championships.

My Dirty Life and Times
My Dirty Life and Times

The History

Transformed from a simple pastime into a legendary roadside spectacle, this colossal ball of twine stands as one of Minnesota’s most renowned attractions. It all began with Francis Johnson, known for his eccentricity, who turned his leisurely activity of rolling sisal twine into an ambitious endeavor. For 29 years, Johnson dedicated four hours each day to this extraordinary pursuit.

Starting in his basement, Johnson soon had to relocate his project outdoors as it outgrew the confines of his home. Using a railroad jack, he diligently rotated the ball to maintain its perfect spherical form.

The twine ball measures 12 feet in diameter, a whopping 17,400 lbs, and took 29 years to make, with Johnson toiling four hours a day. The ball was moved here after Johnson’s death; during his lifetime, it resided in a round open-air shed on his lawn.

Visiting Darwin

On our first full day in Minnesota, we got up early to make the trek, an hour-and-a-half drive from Saint Paul. As you might imagine in the middle of Minnesota, there were many farms and countryside to see along the way. And while there was some debate, we counted 19 lakes along the way in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

My Dirty Life and Times

Unfortunately, the accompanying Museum was not open at the time. The waitress at the only bar for miles, later informed us that it is only open when someone decides to man it occasionally with a rotating cast. (She also found it quite humorous that we would come all this way for the Twine.)

It was a little disappointing to not be able to grab a Twine Ball Souvenir it certainly did not take away from the experience in any way.

My Dirty Life and Times
Post Office

In the End

We grabbed some photos, signed the book, and made our way to the Troubles Restaurant and Bar for some lunch as the Frozen Four Hockey Championships were back in Saint Paul at 4 and it was already Noon.

My Dirty Life and Times

How big is the world’s largest ball of twine in Darwin Minnesota? 12 feet in diameter, 17,400 pounds

Who created the largest ball of twine in Darwin Minnesota? Francis A. Johnson

How long did it take to make the largest ball of twine in Darwin Minnesota? 29 years, four hours daily beginning in 1950.

Bryan Lawrence

Elder Gen X - Born in the Mid-1900's

My life is a collection of poorly made decisions with music playing in the background.