Boxy Bunyan and Babe Statues
Bemidji is the hometown of bustin' out 1940s actress Jane Russell, but to most vacationers it's better known for its postcard-perfect Paul Bunyan and Babe statues. Bemidji has possibly the oldest shrine to the legendary lumberjack in this Bunyan-thick land.
Overly broad-shouldered and boxy, the 18-foot tall, 2.5-ton Paul was built in January 1937 by sun-starved Bemidjians. Companion Babe the Blue Ox, once on wheels, was trucked around to Minnesota carnivals for a few years before joining Paul permanently in 1939.
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 stuff -- 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.
But don't miss an important oddball landmark at the Chamber of Commerce building: the "Fireplace of States," an even-older-than-Bunyan piece of Depression-era whimsy, built in 1934-35 under the Federal Works Program. The fireplace includes stones from every American state and every Canadian province except one (no one can remember which one, since the brass tacks that identified them have long dropped off).
Shutterbug Alert: Bunyan and Babe, facing west, are best shot in afternoon light. The bulky statue is often dressed in sweaters and funny hats in the winter, but do you really want to drive to northern Minnesota in the winter?