'Big Louie' Moilanen, Once the Tallest Man in the World

Louis 'Big Louie' Moilanen

Louis “Big Louie” Moilanen is a legend in the Upper Peninsula, a legend that transcends much more than just the Upper Peninsula.

Louis Moilanen was born at the turn of the century in 1900 and grew up in the ghost town of Boston, which is about five miles north of Hancock.

Though he was born to a 4-foot tall mother and a 5′ 9″ father, Louis Moilanen would grow to be 8′ 4″ and approximately 450 pounds. During his lifetime it was said that he was the tallest man in the world and become known as “Big Louie”.

Like many locals in the area, “Big Louie” worked in the mines. At one time he also worked as a bartender in Hancock. That is one bartender you would not want to upset.

Word traveled fast about Louis and for a short time he went on to work for the Barnum and Bailey Circus.

The medical condition which lead to his enormous height would also be the cause of his death. “Big Louie” Moilanen passed away in 1926 at the young age of 26. A custom built coffin was built for him and he was buried at the Wasa Cemetery near Hancock.

Photo courtesy of A. L. Paulson, Calumet, MI