Saturday, June 09, 2012

Paul Bunyans!

I loved the folk tale of Paul Bunyan and his blue ox "Babe" when I was a kid; still do, come to think of it. Bunyan created the Grand Canyon by dragging his gigantic axe behind him, and the Great Lakes were dug by him so that Babe would have an adequate watering place. And of course Babe was blue because he had been caught in a fierce blizzard. It could happen. 

One of the more famous statues of Paul and Babe can be found in Bemidji, Minnesota. My grandparents lived in Minnesota, and I visited Bemidji at least once when I was a kid. In fact I am almost positive there are photos of me standing beneath Babe's big friendly noggin; wish I could find them.

These charming statues are seen in their original location on "Lookout Hill" in Spruce, Michigan. They have since been moved and can now be found in Ossineke, MI at the corner of U.S. 23 and Nicholson Hill Road. They have a great "folk art" character to them, don't they?

Now we'll head all the way to the west coast to Klamath, California. That's waaaaay up the northern coast, only about 20 miles south of the Oregon border. Klamath is the home to the "Trees of Mystery", a tourist attraction that allows folks to walk through that impressive hollow Redwood trunk, which leads to a trail that shows other giant redwoods, as well as strangely twisted trees ("....shaped like pretzels and DNA strandoids"). This statue of Paul Bunyan has been replaced with a different statue, and is now accompanied by an anatomically-correct Babe (if you know what I'm sayin'), which allows for plenty of amusing photo opportunities.

I hope you've enjoyed your visit with the Paul Bunyans!


Nanook said...

I know currently there's a Paul Bunyan Forest Camp in Redding, California, but I remember stopping for lunch at a "Paul Bunyan Inn" in Redding, California, in both 1962 & '63.

Funny, I don't remember his likeness looking as if it were crafted by Miss. Betty's 4th grade class. Besides his gargantuan-sized ears, the only other thing missing from the second image is a propeller to go atop his "beanie". It's no wonder he was always seen carrying that axe - who would dare make fun of him-?

Anonymous said...

There is a very realistic Paul in front of Bass Park in down town Bangor, Maine. You can see it on Google street view.

Anonymous said...

I can't help but think of the movie Fargo whenever I see a statue of Paul Bunyon.

Bill in Denver

Alonzo P Hawk said...

There was one with arms raised and holding a tire in his hand at the Uniroyal store in Van Nuys. Don't know if he's still there.

Alonzo P Hawk said...

Here is nifty little article about one of the builders of these fiberglass giants in the 60's.

Melissa said...

I was just going to post that link, Alonzo! I love the Muffler Men and other roadside giants. Colossi of the Industrial Age!

Melissa said...

I'm pretty sure the second picture is William S. Burroughs wondering if he's having a hallucination.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, I know that there are plenty of other Bunyans (and Babes) around the country… these just happened to be the three that I had slides of!

Anon, I saw a few pictures of that one during my research for this post!

Bill, the one that you see in Fargo is the same as the ones in photo #1.

Alonzo, there are lots of exemplars that were made from repurposed Muffler Men. There was even a giant lumberjack at the New York World's Fair (not sure if it was supposed to be Paul Bunyan) made from one. Thanks for the link!

Melissa, I think that William S. Burroughs was pretty much always having hallucinations.

Katella Gate said...

That statue is huge. He must have an enormous personality.

Nancy said...

I love seeing different interpretations of the same thing... very cool!! I wonder if we have a Paul Bunyan here in PA...I need to look that up.