Historic Markers Across Alabama

Bessie / “The Meadow Gold Cow”

Marker ID:  
Location: 109 Gates Ave SE, Huntsville, AL
County: Madison
Coordinates: N 34° 43.755    W 086° 35.038
  34.72925    -86.58396666
Style: Interpretative Sign **
Waymark: None


“The Meadow Gold Cow”

Bessie, or Elsie, as she was sometimes called, started her life in Huntsville in 1963. Meadow Gold Diaries (sic) mounted her to their advertising billboard that stood at the corner of Memorial Parkway and Governor's Drive. Painted as a Holstein cow, she remained in that location for twenty-five years, becoming a Huntsville landmark.

During her stay on the billboard, she we the object of many pranksters, who had little success in removing her from her home. Thieves who were never caught finally stole her. After some time, they returned her to the parking lot of WBHP Radio on Governor's Drive.

In the early 1970s, Harry Rhett, one of the best-known developers in Huntsville's history, planned a party at his downtown home in honor of Lily Flagg, a cow famous in the history of Huntsville. Lily Flagg, a Jersey cow, set an international record in 1892 by producing 1,000 pounds of butter and 11,000 pounds of milk (1375 gallons). Her owner, wealthy property owner Samuel Moore, booked a ball in her honor. Rhett, wanted to recreate the original ball, placed the Meadow Gold cow on his front lawn. He repainted her as a Jersey cow, in honor of the original Lily Flagg.

When the party ended, the cow was returned to her original Holstein colors. She moved to her home atop a 40,000-gallon tank at Huntsville's only dairy. Throughout her history, as a result of weather and mischief, Bessie/Elsie has received six new tails, two new front hooves, and a new left leg. A local painter, Wayne Jones, coated the cow with clear coat during a makeover in 1998.

With the closing of Meadow Gold Dairy, Bessie/Elsie has found a home here at Constitution Village; an appropriate place for a Huntsville icon, an icon that reminds us of the dairy industry in Huntsville, and of that famous Huntsville cow named Lily Flagg.

City of Huntsville, Alabama

Photographs of the marker can be found on HMDB.org

End of Bessie / “The Meadow Gold Cow”