Repairs underway for Paul and Babe

Work is being done on both the Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox statues to ensure any and all repair needs are met.

Marcia Larson, Bemidji's parks and recreation director, gets a closer look at Paul Bunyan's arm damages with Rob Jensen, of Jensen Conservation Services, on Monday, May 24, 2021, in Paul Bunyan Park. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

BEMIDJI -- Bemidji's most iconic duo is getting a much-needed makeover, from the top of Paul Bunyan's shoulder to the bottom of Babe's hooves.

Crews have been hard at work in Paul Bunyan Park, making multiple repairs to the two statues in Bemidji's downtown. The work had been scheduled for this later summer but was moved ahead of schedule after the Paul Bunyan statue sustained damage earlier this month.

Video obtained by the Bemidji Police Department of the incident caught individuals hanging on the arm of Paul Bunyan that resulted in the damage . The concrete on the arm gave way, and it was held only by the statue's internal rebar.

Bemidji's iconic statue of Paul Bunyan suffered a major separation in his right arm on Monday, the statue is currently blocked off until repairs can be made. According to security footage, the concrete gave way after several people climbing and hanging off of Paul’s arm and the adjacent sign. (Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer)


Earlier this spring, the city hired Jensen Conservation to work on both statues, as they have needed some work. Following the arm breaking, the company pushed up their schedule to restore both Paul and Babe statues.

The 18-foot Paul Bunyan statue has been in the park on the shore of Lake Bemidji since its construction in 1937 and the Babe statue was created around the same time. Originally, the ox statue was used in parades and shows to promote Bemidji as a tourist destination.

However, because of damage caused to Babe, it was permanently set next to Paul. The plaza the two statues are located in was redone in 2015 with colored concrete. However, the city has noticed an issue with rainwater drainage that it hopes to address in the near future.

The statues have been repainted in the past decade, once in 2011 and another time in 2016.

The statues are on the National Register of Historic Places and have been listed on National Geographic's Top 10 U.S. Roadside Attractions.

In Minnesota, two other communities, Akeley and Brainerd, have Paul Bunyan statues.

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