Bemidji Bunyan and Babe the Ox.

Boxy Bunyan and Babe Statues

Field review by the editors.

Bemidji, Minnesota

Bemidji is the hometown of bustin' out 1940s actress Jane Russell, but to most vacationers it's known for its postcard-perfect Paul Bunyan and Babe statues. Bemidji has the honor of erecting the oldest surviving shrine to the legendary lumberjack in this Bunyan-thick land.

Overly broad-shouldered and boxy, the 18-foot-tall, 7.5-ton Paul was built of steel and concrete in January 1937 at Cyril Dickinson's lumber yard, using then-Mayor Earl Bucklen as a model. Companion Babe the Blue Ox, once on wheels, was trucked around to Minnesota carnivals for a few years before joining Paul permanently in 1939. Both were conceived as a tribute to the lumber industry, Bemidji's principal employer at the time.

The spot where they congregate on the shore of Lake Bemidji is said -- by the Chamber of Commerce, anyway -- to be Paul Bunyan's birthplace. The adjacent C of C building features a collection of Bunyan artifacts: Paul's titanic boxer shorts, flyswatter, toothbrush, dice, playing cards, belt, chocolate bar, lighter. Pretty much any slightly over-scale thing the C of C could think of.

Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox.

The bulky statue, made of cement stucco and steel, was often dressed in sweaters and funny hats in the winter. That tradition ended in 2014, when the Bemidji city council ruled that Paul could no longer be dressed in anything other than his painted-on clothes. The council, zealously guarding Paul's image, feared that it might somehow be forced to allow Paul to wear something undignified.

Boxy Bunyan and Babe Statues

Bemidji Visitors and Convention Bureau

300 Bemidji Ave., Bemidji, MN
Bemidji Visitors and Convention Bureau. Between Hwy 197/Bemidji Ave./Paul Bunyan Drive and the south shore of Lake Bemidji.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

Fireplace of StatesFireplace of States, Bemidji, MN - < 1 mi.
Niiemii - Dancing IndianNiiemii - Dancing Indian, Bemidji, MN - < 1 mi.
Nanabozho, Bunyan's Muffler Man FoeNanabozho, Bunyan's Muffler Man Foe, Bemidji, MN - < 1 mi.
In the region:
Chief Bemidji Statue, Bemidji, MN - < 1 mi.

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