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Paul Bunyan statue.

31-Foot-Tall Paul Bunyan

Field review by the editors.

Bangor, Maine

Bangor claims to be both the birthplace of the lumber industry and the Birthplace of Paul Bunyan. A titan-size statue in the city reminds Bangorians of their connection to this character of American legend.

Akeley, Minnesota, makes a competing Paul Bunyan birth claim, with its own impressive statue, as well as a giant crib on display. But even though Minnesota is thickly forested with all manner of big Bunyan tributes -- it even has his girlfriend and his grave -- Maine certainly has enough trees to spawn a chopper like Paul. That's why it's refreshing to see the hulking woodsman here, in sometimes sleepy New England.

And for those who still question Bangor's "birthplace" claim, Bunyan's birth certificate is on display in the City Clerk's office in City Hall. He was born, according to the official document, on February 12, 1834.

Bangor's Paul Bunyan, "Reputed to be the largest statue of Paul Bunyan in the world," according to its sign, stands on a stone pedestal in front of the Bangor Civic Center in Bass Park. The statue is 31 feet high and weighs 3,700 pounds, not including its double-sided ax and lumberjack's peavey. Paul Bunyan's fiberglass-over-metal frame is hurricane-proofed to withstand 110 mph winds.

Paul Bunyan.

The statue was unveiled in Bangor on February 12, 1959, Paul's 125th birthday. A local quasquicentennial committee raised approximately $20,000 to pay New York parade float fabricators Messmoor and Damon to build the statue. It was created by local artist J. Normand Martin (1926-2021), who designed the statue at home, on his own time, and was paid only $134 for his efforts, a source of subsequent amusement to him and embarrassment to the city, as the statue became a well-known civic icon. Martin was pleased with his work, but always felt that the statue's head was too big.

Mainer Stephen King bestowed brief pop culture celebrity on the statue, when he brought it to life in his 1986 novel, IT.

The Chamber of Commerce sells copies of Bangor's 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 Bangor's 250th birthday.

Also see: Paul Bunyan: Friend or Foe?

31-Foot-Tall Paul Bunyan

Bass Park

519 Main St., Bangor, ME
Bass Park. I-395 exit 3 and drive north a block or two. On the west side of Main St., opposite the Hollywood Slots Hotel.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

Scroll and Shield from USS MaineScroll and Shield from USS Maine, Bangor, ME - < 1 mi.
Duck of JusticeDuck of Justice, Bangor, ME - < 1 mi.
Stephen King's HouseStephen King's House, Bangor, ME - < 1 mi.
In the region:
Only Octagonal Post Office, Liberty, ME - 38 mi.

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