The world’s largest buffalo and Holstein cow are a “Legendary” part of North Dakota’s landscape.
Another of our state’s Guinness Book of World Records achievements is virtually unknown, because it’s stored and preserved at one of the world’s most famous museums.
Hans Nielsen Langseth farmed in the Red River Valley in the early 1900s. He grew something so amazing, it’s now housed at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.
The Museum is dedicated to the wonders of the natural world. It contains more than 145 million artifacts, including the Hope Diamond and a 17-foot-six-inch beard grown by Langseth.
“We’ve been Interested in human variation and cultural practices,” said David Hunt, collections manager for physical anthropology at the Museum of Natural History.
Hunt says the Smithsonian acquired Langseth’s beard in 1967 and displayed it until 1991. “There were an awful lot of people that would look at it and go. “What the ….”
Back in 1865, Langseth began growing facial hair when he was 19 years old to compete in a beard competition in Iowa. By 1922 he became famous when his mane was named the world’s longest beard.
“He matted it so it was really like a big long dread lock,” said Hunt.
After receiving national notoriety, Langseth traveled for a time with the circus and enjoyed playing practical jokes.
“When the kids would come to visit, he would often wait for them not to be paying attention and then he would take it and he would throw it at them and this thing would unfurl, so he had a good time with it,” said Hunt
Before his death in 1927, Langseth requested his beard be trimmed and preserved for posterity. His family granted that wish and eventually his life long obsession was donated the Smithsonian where his facial hair lives on.
Langseth died in Barney, North Dakota, a small town located in Richland County. He is buried next to his wife in Kensett, Iowa.