Paul Bunyan in popular culture

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Since the folkloric hero Paul Bunyan's first major appearance in print, the character has been utilized to promote a variety of products, locations, and services. The giant lumberjack's mass appeal has led him to become a recurring figure in entertainment and marketing, appearing in various incarnations throughout popular culture.

Popular Culture[edit]

Tourist attractions[edit]

30-foot (9 m) tall statue of Babe the Blue Ox at Trees of Mystery, Klamath, California.
  • The state of Michigan declared Oscoda, Michigan, as the official home of Paul Bunyan because it had the earliest documented published stories by MacGillivray. Other towns such as Bemidji, Brainerd, Shelton, and Westwood; Bay City; Wahoo; Eau Claire; and even Bangor also claim the title.
  • The most famous statues of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox are in Bemidji, Minnesota as part of the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. Other cities include Bangor, Maine; Rumford, Maine; Westwood, California; Del Norte County, California; St. Ignace, Michigan; Ossineke, Michigan; Enchanted Forest Water Safari, New York; and in Eau Claire, Wisconsin; Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin; and Minocqua, Wisconsin.
  • Paul Bunyan Land, a popular amusement park 7 miles (11 km) east of Brainerd, Minnesota, features a talking statue of Paul with a statue of Babe. Previously located in Baxter, the original Paul Bunyan Land park closed in 2003 to make room for new commercial development. The moving, talking, seated Paul Bunyan was then moved east of Brainerd to its current location at This Old Farm. A fictional Brainerd statue of Paul Bunyan was featured in the 1996 film Fargo, but was filmed in Bathgate, North Dakota and not Brainerd.
  • Trees of Mystery, a roadside attraction in Klamath, California, features a 49 ft (15 m) tall statue of Bunyan and a 35 ft (10 m) tall statue of Babe. It also features carvings and characters from stories of Paul. In November 2007 the statue of Babe's head fell off, owing to rain and old, rotted materials giving way. It has since been repaired.[1]
  • The State of Michigan has designated Oscoda, Michigan as the official home of Paul Bunyan due to the earliest documented publications in the Oscoda Press, August 10, 1906 by James MacGillivray (later revised and published in the Detroit News in 1910).[2]
  • Statues of Bunyan (alone) exist in Old Forge, New York; Akeley, Minnesota; Tucson, Arizona; Minocqua, Wisconsin; Bangor, Maine; Rumford, Maine; Oscoda, Michigan; Manistique Township, Michigan; a recently moved pair of statues sit in Ossineke, Michigan with a neutered Babe the Blue Ox,[3] Portland, Oregon; St. Maries, Idaho; Shelton, Washington; Lake Nebagamon, Wisconsin; Aline, Oklahoma; and also on top of a Vietnamese (May Cafe 111 Louisiana Blvd. SE 87108) restaurant in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
  • Bunyan is depicted on the world's largest wood carving, at the entrance to Sequoia National Park in California.
  • There is a 30-foot-tall (9.1 m) Paul Bunyan at the Paul Bunyan's Northwoods Cook Shanty in Minocqua, Wisconsin. This restaurant opened in 1961 and has become a tourist destination for this Wisconsin tourist town and its popularity continues to grow.
  • There is another 30-foot-tall (9.1 m) Paul Bunyan at the Paul Bunyan's Northwoods Cook Shanty in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. This restaurant opened in 1958 and has become traditional stop for Wisconsin tourists visiting this popular vacation town.
  • Two college football trophies have a connection to the legendary lumberjack. The University of Minnesota Golden Gophers and University of Wisconsin Badgers have played for Paul Bunyan's Axe since the 1940s. Each year since 1953 the Paul Bunyan-Governor of Michigan trophy has been awarded to the winner of the football game between the University of Michigan Wolverines and Michigan State University Spartans.
  • The unincorporated town of Union Lake, Michigan, previously held an annual Paul Bunyan Festival every year in July. The festival was sponsored and run by several local charitable and civic groups, including the Jaycees and the Chamber of Commerce but was discontinued in the 1990s.[citation needed]
  • Hackensack, Minnesota is the home of Lucette, Paul Bunyan's sweetheart. The park downtown has the statue of Lucette and their son, Paul Jr.
  • The character of Paul Bunyan features prominently in Jon Ludwig's Paul Bunyan & the Tall Tale Medicine Show at the Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta, Georgia[4]
  • The City of Fort Bragg, California has been celebrating "Paul Bunyan Days" since 1939. It takes place Labor Day Weekend and includes rock shows, ugly dog contests, tricycle races, a huge logging show, and a Labor Day Parade. Fort Bragg's Paul Bunyan, who presides over all the activities is Norm Shandell, who has been Paul since 1969. Paul Bunyan spends the Fall in Fort Bragg, but leaves his Blue Ox, "Babe" in Comptche, California, so it won't make too big of a fuss.
  • St. Maries, Idaho holds a 4 day celebration of logging history in St. Maries, Idaho on Labor Day Weekend for the annual "Paul Bunyan Days Celebration". There are several food and craft vendors, a carnival (Davis Shows North West), logging and pool events, bed and outhouse races, Tug of War, Motor Cycle Enduro Cross, Lawn Mower races. What is possibly the largest Labor Day Fireworks display in the inland North West occurs on Sunday evening, which draws an estimated crowd of 12,000 spectators. On Monday, there is a Parade, which is over 1 mile long and growing each year. The city park boasts "The Biggest Topless Bar in Idaho" called the Blue Ox (the beer garden doesn't have a roof). {17}
  • There is a big statue of Paul Bunyan in Squamish, British Columbia, Canada.
  • The Log Chute flume ride (formerly known as 'Paul Bunyan's Log Chute') at the Nickelodeon Universe Park (formerly Knott's Camp Snoopy) at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, features large animatronic Paul Bunyan and Babe statues, as well as associated characters from the legend, including cooks making oversized pancakes.
  • There is a statue of Paul Bunyan holding a Hot Dog in Atlanta, Illinois. Although originally he did hold an axe, the axe was replaced with the hot dog due to its use as a symbol for Bunyon's restaurant in Cicero, Illinois.[5] The statue was moved to Atlanta, Illinois when the restaurant closed down in 2003.


  1. ^ "Klamath tourist attraction loses its head - Times-Standard Online". Retrieved 2008-06-08. 
  2. ^ "Oscoda Press on Paul Bunyan designation". Retrieved 2012-10-08. 
  3. ^ "Roadside attractions, Ossineke, Michigan Babe and Paul Bunyan". 2005-05-22. Retrieved 2012-10-08. 
  4. ^ "Center for Puppetry Arts - Performances". Retrieved 2012-10-08. 
  5. ^ Dave Hoekstra (June 4, 2012). "Hot dog merchant who brought giant Paul Bunyan statue to Route 66 dead at 89". Chicago Sun-Times.