Colantha's records: In her long and storied career - from 1916 to 1932 - she produced 200,114 pounds of milk and 7,525 pounds of butterfat.
In her best year, 1926, her annual production was a world record 22,918 pounds. The official state average was 3,918 pounds.
She had 9 lactations.


Michigan Back Roads
About Up North
Contact Ron

Tomb of the Cow

Sometimes a rise to world fame has very humble beginnings; and so it was for Colantha Walker, the wonder cow.

gravestoneThe 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.  Colantha's accomplishments have been commemorated by a Dairy Festival on the grounds.

The Asylum closed in 1989 but the 500 acre property has been repurposed. 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.

Just another unique destination on the back roads of Michigan.