Wait, So Paul Bunyan’s NOT from Minnesota…?
My wife and I were in the Wisconsin Dells over the weekend and enjoyed a breakfast at Paul Bunyan's Cook Shanty. A woodsy eatery where food is served community-style, large statues of Bunyan and his blue ox-friend Babe stand stoically outside, welcoming (or, rather, intimidating...see photo below) visitors one and all. Lumberjack-themed memorabilia - like axes and saws, deer busts and (fake) trees -- grace the inside, and an exotic assortment of toys and trinkets -- from slingshots and toy rifles to Day of the Dead figurines -- are available to purchase.
It wasn't until after we left that I wondered, "Why is there a giant statue of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox in the Wisconsin Dells?" After all, surely the fine people of the Dells don't think that's where Paul Bunyan is from! Why, Paul Bunyan is Minnesotan through and through! He practically embodies the Great North! AND he and his blue bovine friend are from Bemidji! Or is it Brainerd? Akely...?
Turns out, the matter of where the giant lumberjack calls home isn't so simple. Bemidji, MN likes to claim itself as the home of Bunyan and Babe as evidenced by giant statues of them both on the shore of Lake Bemidji. Brainerd, of course, is home to Paul Bunyan Land. Akely, MN, too, hosts an annual Paul Bunyan Days Festival.
Further complicating things, according to 12StoryLibrary.com, Bangor, Maine also calls itself the home of Paul Bunyan and also has giant statues of Bunyan and Babe! MPR even says Bangor has Bunyan's "birth certificate" hanging in the city clerk's office.
Road Trip USA lists Klamath, CA and Portland, OR as additional cities to visit for giant statues of Paul Bunyan.
So where exactly is the giant lumberjack who, legend has it, carved out the Grand Canyon, created Minnesota's 10,000 lakes with his footprint and holds his pants up with a bent crowbar from?