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Paul Bunyan and Babe statues date to 1930s

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News Bemidji,Minnesota 56619
Bemidji Pioneer
Paul Bunyan and Babe statues date to 1930s
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

In the early fall of 1937, Bemidji organized its first Paul Bunyan Carnival.

While everyone on the carnival committee had different jobs, Cyril Dickinson of the Dickinson Construction Company was given the job to build a statue of Paul Bunyan.


The statue was modeled after Bemidji's then mayor, Earl Bucklen.

Above the concrete footings (about 5.5 tons) that help support the statue, Paul himself weighs at about 2.5 tons.

The 18-foot-tall statue is of wood framework above the footings, over which supporting bars form the outline. Steel planks over the bars and covered in cement. The reinforcing of the footings is of heavy steel and continues up through the legs of the statue.

The footings help Paul withstand Bemidji's high velocity winds. He is touched up with fresh paint every year before tourist season begins.

Babe the Blue Ox was constructed in 1937 by James Payton. Headwaters Camp, a nearby logging camp, owned a large pair of oxen and the largest was used as a model for Babe.

Originally built to be put on a 1.5-ton truck that would travel around America to promote Bemidji as a tourist destination, Babe eventually was placed next to Paul where it still resides.

When the pair was united, thousands of tourists came every year to be photographed next to them. The National Parks Service recognized these statues as an official cultural resource worthy of preservation, and added them to the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.

Pioneer staff reports