If you’re taking Interstate 70 from St. Louis to Indianapolis and happen to pull off around the halfway mark, you’ll end up near (or in) Casey, Illinois. With a population of just 2404, according to the 2020 U.S. Census, Casey itself can fairly be described as tiny. Its claim to fame, however, is anything but—literally.
The town is home to roughly a dozen objects that hold Guinness World Records for being the “world’s largest” in their respective categories. The exact number is 11, since the world’s largest gavel (16 feet, 8 inches) is technically located in nearby Marshall, Illinois; and Casey’s record for largest knitting needles (13.75 feet) was broken by UK art student Elizabeth Bond in 2017 (hers measured just over 14.5 feet).
The mastermind behind the Brobdingnagian designs is Jim Bolin, a Casey native and the head of Bolin Enterprises Inc., a family-run business that specializes in pipeline and tank maintenance. As Enjoy Illinois reports, Bolin came up with the idea of building something big enough to break a record as a way to give back to his community. In 2011, he—with the help of Bolin Enterprises resources and staff—constructed a 42-foot-long wind chime that clinched Casey’s first Guinness World Record.
Over the next several years, other larger-than-life structures followed, including a golf tee, wooden clogs, a rocking chair, a working seesaw, a key (a perfect replica of Bolin’s own Chevy truck key), a 5743-cubic-foot mailbox from which you can actually send mail, and more. The so-called “Big Things Small Town” campaign extends beyond official world records, too. There’s a big pizza slicer outside the Greathouse of Pizza pizzeria; a big green bookworm outside the public library; a big softball bat outside the USA Softball of Illinois Hall of Fame; and many other XL items sprinkled strategically around town.
Bolin hasn’t kept track of the expenses, but he has made a point of using recycled materials from his junk pile whenever possible: Wooden telephone poles, metal pipes, and old oil tanks have all come in handy.
“I don’t want to know what it cost; I’d faint if I knew what I actually had (invested) in them,” Bolin told the Chicago Tribune. “The dividend is when you see a family walking through the town and the kids are having the time of their life seeing this stuff.”
[h/t Enjoy Illinois]