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Texas Town Unveils the World’s Largest Bowie Knife

When your town is named after the man who gave the Bowie knife its name, you embrace it.

A regular-sized Bowie knife. (Photo: Mika Järvinen/CC BY-2.0)

Everything is bigger in Texas,” the saying goes, and the saying is definitely now true for Bowie knives, as Bowie, Texas unveils what may be the largest knife in the world, at 3,000 pounds and 20 feet long, with a 14-foot, 5-inch stainless steel blade.

 


The name Bowie—both the town and the knife—comes from James “Jim” Bowie, who is best known for his role in the Texas Revolution and the Battle at the Alamo. Bowie first began carrying a large knife in 1827 after he was shot at by Norris Wright, a local sheriff and banker who developed a mutual enmity with Bowie after refusing him a loan. The knife—allegedly made by Bowie’s brother Rezin—earned its moniker when Bowie used it in the Sandbar Fight, an 1827 Mississippi post-duel brawl that was so notoriously vicious the New York Times recounted it in detail for an 1895 article about the family. The Times describes the original knife vividly:

The blade was nine inches long, and it and the handle together measured fifteen inches. When James Bowie received his knife from his brother he was told by him that it was “strong and of admirable temper. It is more trustworthy in the hands of a strong man than a pistol, for it will not snap.”

Presumably, the town of Bowie was named in honor of its namesake’s connection to Texas history rather than his fighting skills, and the town celebrates Jim Bowie Days every June.

The giant knife has been in the works for nearly three years, after the Bowie Chamber of Commerce took up the project in memory of Bob Hadley, a local resident who first suggested the monument before passing away unexpectedly in 2013. In addition to fulfilling Hadley’s dream, the Chamber of Commerce is optimistic the attraction will also increase tourism in the area. Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Diane Thomlinson told KFDX. “For Bowie, we are hoping to get people off of the highway—off of 287—and into town. We want them to spend their money of course, but we want them to see there is so much to do and see in Bowie.”

The project’s $170,000 cost was funded entirely by private donations—including an anonymous contribution of $100,000, presumably from someone who really admires the town, Jim Bowie, knives, or some combination of the three. In June, the monument will be formally dedicated during the 2016 Jim Bowie Days festival, and town officials hope to have representatives from Guinness World Records on-hand to certify the knife is the largest in existence.

The largest Bowie knife in Texas also happens the only Bowie knife in Texas. Or the only legal one. Bowie knives, along with other large blades, are considered illegal knives under Texas law and are unlawful to carry in the state. A recent effort to remove Bowie knives from the definition of illegal knives was left pending in the state legislature last year. So for the time being, Texas’ Bowie knife enthusiasts will have to be content in the knowledge that the state’s only legal Bowie knife upholds the state’s unofficial slogan.