World's Largest Ball of Twine Information Sheet


World’s Largest Ball of Twine Made by One Man

Francis A. Johnson, the creator of the world’s largest ball of twine, was born to the late U.S. Senator and Mrs. Magnus Johnson on April 17, 1904 in Kingston Township. He died October 24, 1989 on Litchfield.

Francis lived his entire lifetime in Meeker County. As a young boy he helped on the family farm, later for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, and then as a self-employed carpenter until his retirement. Francis lived for a brief time near Kimball and then near Darwin where he built a home.

In March of 1950 Francis wound the first piece of baler twine around two fingers to form a ball. As the ball grew, it was no longer possible to manually wrap the twine. It was then that he began using massive railroad jacks designed to lift boxcars to move the ball around. Twenty nine years later in 1979, The World’s Largest Ball of Twine was completed and recorded in the Guinness Book of World’s Records, where it remained until 1994. The now recorded largest ball of twine was made by several people and is constructed of plastic twine and weighs considerably less.

Francis’ ball of twine that is on display in Darwin weights 8.7 tons, is 11 feet high and measures about 40 feet around. Prior to the first Twine Ball Days celebration a gazebo was constructed around the ball. It allows for easy viewing and photographing. Although Ripley’s Believe It or Not now displays the new largest ball of twine, most folks around Darwin still claim that the original is still the biggest and the best.



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