When talking about the lumberjack with extraordinary stature and his trusted ox who was an extraordinary color, most people will immediately know that this is referring to Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox. The stories of Paul began more than 30 years before ever being recorded. Loggers would share fragments of these tales to pass the time in their bunkhouse. The first recorded story of Paul can be found in the Duluth News Tribune from 1904. As the story goes, the cook at the logging camp strapped two large hams to Paul’s feet. He then had him running up and down the half-mile long griddle so he could bake the wheat cakes for the lumberjacks that morning. At the time he was believed to be eight feet tall and all of 300 lbs. The legends of this mighty lumberjack and his ability to clean whole acres of trees with a single swing from his ax have grown larger and more impressive over time. He is even credited with creating Lake Itasca and the Mississippi River. A common thread remains the same thought all the stories, Paul is praised for his great physical strength and unmatched skill.
In 1937 Paul and his trusty helper Babe found a place to call home on the beautiful shores of Lake Bemidji. Unveiled during the January Winter Carnival, these iconic statues were designed by Lennord L. Pitney of Park Rapids, Minnesota to serve as lumberjack mascots. Paul stands 18’ tall and weighs in at two-and-one-half tons atop a five-ton concrete footing. Babe is 10’ long and was originally designed to travel throughout Minnesota as a parade feature. In 1939 he finally had his hooves rooted permanently next to Paul. These two statues receive visitors from all over. According to the Eastman Kodak Company, they are the second most photographed statues in the nation. After more than 50 years standing tall in the parking lot of the Bemidji Chamber of Commerce, overlooking Lake Bemidji, the statues were officially honored by the National Parks Service by adding them to the National Register of Historic Places.
Before You Go, Here’s A Tip:
Both Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox statues and the Fireplace of States are located at the Tourist Information Center in Bemidji.