Somewhere midway between I70 and I80, not far from the geodetic center of North America and just a small jaunt from The Garden of Eden lies a roadside attraction unlike any other; Cawker City’s World’s Largest Ball of Sassel Twine. It’s a bit of a ride from most anywhere you may be on your way to, and probably just a little further from anywhere you may be on your way from. As a town, it’s just another dot on the map on a little line that wanders around Lake Waconda. But it has a ball of twine, and that makes all the difference.
From the moment we heard about this,we had to go there. After all, it isn’t every day you see something like this and we just had to know – how’d it get there? Why is it there? Who on earth decided this was the thing to do?
Well, as it turns out, these questions are fairly easily answered and Linda Cover, the ball’s caretaker, will gladly tell you all about it or you can simply read the tale on the website. Would you like to add to it and be part of history? She’ll gladly offer you a roll of officially measured and weighed twine and allow you to add a wrap or two and ensure your place in roadside glory.
I’m not going to bother restating the ball’s story here as I believe that there is a far greater tale to tell. While we were chatting with Linda, discussing how the ball has moved from a barn, to a park, to a custom built gazebo, I asked her what was next for it as the younger generation took over. I expected talk of a visitor center with multi-media digital depictions of it, or an enclosed gazebo,or maybe Facebook live tours.
To my dismay I learned that to many in town the ball was a mystery, Like many young people in rural, out of the way towns, they yearn to get to the city and can’t imagine why people would come here…for this, a ball of dirty string.
But it isn’t just a ball of string. It IS a mystery, it has a story that dates back decades and you have to go out of your way to find it and step into a world far outside your own. You get a chance to imagine a life and a story that won’t be told by Hollywood and a chance to have lunch in an area McDonalds and Wendys have not found.
This ball of string is why we travel. it perfectly represents where we want to be, the variety of stories we want to hear and lives we want to learn about. It represents curiosity, adventure and a sense of humor. Roadside attractions define the America we have lost, but you can still go find it.