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, 7.5-ton Paul was built in January 1937 by sun-starved Bemidjians, 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.
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.
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.