Paul Bunyan Statue and Birthplace
Bangor claims to be both the birthplace of the lumber industry, and, naturally, the Birthplace of Paul Bunyan. A titan of a statue in the city reminds Bangorians of their connection to this mythic character.
Akeley, Minnesota makes a competing Paul Bunyan birth claim, with their own impressive statue, and giant crib on display. Minnesota is thickly forested with all manner of big Bunyan tributes -- they even have his grave and his girlfriend. That's why it's refreshing to see the hulking woodsman here, in sleepy New England.
Bangor's Paul Bunyan, "Reputed to be the largest statue of Paul Bunyan in the world," according to the sign, stands on a stone pedestal in front of the Bangor Civic Center in Bass Park. The statue is 31 feet high (the Chamber of Commerce notes it on their web site as 37 ft., perhaps including the pedestal). It weighs 3,700 lbs., not including his double-sided ax and peavey. Paul Bunyan's fiberglass-over-metal frame is hurricane-proofed to withstand 110 mph winds.
The statue was donated to Bangor in 1959, on Bangor's 125th anniversary, by New York-based builders Messmoor & Damon. It was designed by local artist J. Norman Martin, who was reportedly paid $137 for his efforts.
Mainer Stephen King bestowed brief pop culture celebrity on the statue, when he brought it to life in the 1986 novel, "IT."
The Chamber of Commerce sells cassettes of their official Bunyan song, "The Ballad of Paul Bunyan," by Joe Pickering, which garnered the 1997 Country Music Association's"Comedy Song of the Year" award.
Over the years, Paul has been outfitted with a giant fez (for a Shriners convention) and a huge bandana (for a Willie Nelson concert). He is thoughtfully set back into the park so that shutterbugs can get all of him into their photos without having to stand in the middle of Main Street.
A time capsule is entombed in Paul's pedestal, slated to be cracked open -- perhaps with his mighty ax -- on February 12, 2084.