Woodruff—(WAOW) A penny isn't worth much, unless you are in Woodruff.
The small town nestled in northern Wisconsin prides itself on being home to the world's largest penny.
Though the sight of a ten foot coin towering over curious onlookers is striking, the reason why it is there will impress you more.
In the early 1950's Dr. Kate Newcomb was practicing medicine across northern Wisconsin. Dubbed the "Angel on Snowshoes" she let no obstacle stop her from getting to where she was needed—attending to the needs of mothers giving birth.
Using sleds, snowmobiles and snowshoes Newcomb tamed the harshest of winters. And after delivering thousands of babies, she identified the need and campaigned on behalf of building a hospital in Woodruff.
But a shortage of funding threatened to end the hospital project before it could be completed. That is, until the pennies arrived.
Assisted by students at the former Woodruff-Arbor Vitae High School who were collecting one million pennies to help fund the construction, Newcomb was able to bring in over $100,000 in donations after a surprise appearance on national television.
In 1954 she was featured on the television show "This Is Your Life" after being brought to California for what she thought was a medical conference.
During the show, the need for money to finish the hospital came up. Inspired by her work and dedication, people from around the world began sending letters to Woodruff containing a few pennies.
Eventually enough money arrived to finish paying for the hospital.
To honor the larger-than-life donations and tireless work of Newcomb, Woodruff built the world's largest penny in front of the former high school.
Today, the Dr. Kate Newcomb Museum located at 932 Second Avenue in Woodruff recreates her medical office highlighting the life of this dedicated physician. It also has photos of hundreds of children delivered by the hands of Newcomb.
The Museum is open through Labor Day and is free to the public.
Online Reporter Rob Duns