colantha the wonder cow
Sometimes a rise to world fame has very humble beginnings; and so
it was for Colantha Walker, the wonder cow.
The Northern Michigan Asylum opened in 1885 and eventually grew
into a giant complex on the outskirts of Traverse City, Michigan.
In fact, at one point the population of the hospital complex, 3,500,
was greater than the population of the city at that time. The
Asylum was self-sufficient with its own farms, gardens, fire
department and power plant. It had its own orchards of peaches,
apples and cherries, its own vineyards and vegetable gardens, field
crops and a wide variety of livestock including a herd of cows.
The most famous of these, actually the most famous inhabitant of the
asylum period, was Colantha Walker, a grand champion milk cow.
When Colantha went to her reward in 1932, the staff and patients of
the asylum held a banquet in her honor and erected a huge granite
tombstone over her grave.
The Asylum closed in 1989 but the 500 acre property is being
revitalized. The old asylum buildings are creamy brick and are
architecurally spectacular. The complex is being transformed into an
entire town with unique shops, galleries, restaurants, apartments
and condominiums. Even if the tomb were not there, it is worth a
visit just to see the gigantic structure that was once the asylum.
The Tomb of the Cow is tucked away on the south edge of the
propery near the old original barns. At a curve in the road just
south of two champion Black Willows, the engraved stone sits between
two trees. As far as we know, she is the only resident of the asylum
to be buried there.
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