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Wander MN: The Mighty Paul Bunyan

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(credit: Amy Rea)

(credit: Amy Rea)

Amy Rea Amy Rea
Amy Rea is a freelance writer and author of Minnesota, Land of 10,000...
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One of the most iconic figures in Minnesota has to be Paul Bunyan and his Blue Ox, Babe. How exactly Bunyan came into popularity isn’t clear, although some think that the stories originated in the early 1900s at a Wisconsin logging camp, while others point to early 1800s Canada. It’s not clear if there was an actual person who later became the mythic version of Bunyan, or if this was campfire lore turned into advertising. But variations exist in many parts of the country, and each tale seems taller than the next:

• Paul Bunyan was such a huge baby that it took 5 storks to deliver him.
• As a baby, he destroyed acres of forest just rolling around in his sleep.
• He was so big he could straighten a twisted river.
• He created the Great Lakes as a watering hole for Babe.
• He created the Grand Canyon by dragging his ax behind him while he walked.
• The tracks he and Babe made strolling around Minnesota created the 10,000 lakes.
• The stove the camp cook used to make his breakfast was so large that the cook strapped two hams on his feet to “skate” across the pan to grease it.

These wild tales have resulted in Bunyan’s continuing popularity, and he pops up in several places around the state. There’s even a bike trail named after him.

Of course there’s the animatronic version at Paul Bunyan Land in the Brainerd lakes area:

(credit: Adam Rademacher)

(credit: Adam Rademacher)

And Bunyan and Babe have been long-time residents on the shores of Lake Bemidji.

(credit: Amy Rea)

(credit: Amy Rea)

Akeley claims that Bunyan was born in its town, and that they have the largest Paul Bunyan around at 30.5 feet high:

(credit: Amy Rea)

(credit: Amy Rea)

Pequot Lakes was able to repurpose his fishing bobber as a water tower.

(credit: Amy Rea)

(credit: Amy Rea)

Hackensack has a smaller Bunyan that looks a bit somber.

(credit: Amy Rea)

(credit: Amy Rea)

He needs to look over his shoulder, because right behind him is his future wife, Lucette.

(credit: Amy Rea)

(credit: Amy Rea)

Kelliher claims to have Bunyan’s final resting place:

(credit: Amy Rea)

(credit: Amy Rea)

Complete with gravestone.

(credit: Amy Rea)

(credit: Amy Rea)

What else is happening in our state? Be sure to check out the 10 p.m. Sunday night WCCO newscasts, where you can learn more in the weekly segment, Finding Minnesota.

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