Attractions
  Recreational
  Arts/Entertainment
  Amusement
  Educational
  More...
 

****

 
 
 
 
 

PAUL BUNYAN

BABE THE BLUE OX


In the early fall of 1937, the Paul Bunyan Carnival was organized with Hector Brown in charge.  Various organizations in the city were requested to take over certain parts of the program.  Cyril Dickinson, of the Dickinson Construction Company was delegated to build a statue of Paul Bunyan.  Earl Bucklen, (on right) mayor of Bemidji at the time, was used as a model.  All measurements were scaled up three-to-one.  The statue was built late in the fall and had to be covered with canvas while the cement was hardening.
In order to get some idea of the labor and materials which went into Paul's construction, Mr. Dickinson furnished the following statistics:
Concrete footings to water level: 5 1/2 tons
Weight of statue above footings: 2 1/2 tons
Height of statue:  18 feet
Built in the winter of 1937, 737 man-hours were used in the construction of Paul Bunyan.  The statue is of wood framework above the footings, over which reinforcing bars  form the outline.  Heavy steel laths are over the reinforcing bars and cement stucco is applied to this.  The reinforcing of the footings is of heavy steel and continues up through the legs of the statue.  This was intended to be reinforced in such a manner as to withstand a high velocity of wind. The statue was painted at the time of construction and is touched up each year before the summer tourism season begins.
1951 
Paul's shotgun rested beside him for many years.  Made of wood, it deteriorated over time and was removed.   A replica of the gun is on display in the Tourist Information Center.



Photo courtesy of Linda Spindler, Bemidji

During the fall of 1937, the Bemidji Rotary Club was asked to build a statue of Babe, the Blue Ox.  A committee with Newell Johnson as chairman, delegated the task of building the statue to James Payton.
The government of  Headwaters Camp, a nearby logging camp, owned a large pair of oxen and the largest was used as a model for the statue.  Measurements and pictures were taken and detailed drawings were made scaling the ox on a three-to-one basis, the same as had been done with the Paul Bunyan statue. 
These scaled drawings were followed in detail, with the exception of the distance between the front legs.  This space was widened in order to allow a truck to be operated beneath the statue. 
The ox was built with a skeleton of wooden ribs, sawed and nailed together at a local boat company plant.  After the structure of wood was made, it was covered with wire lath.  On top of this, was stretched a padding of fiber and wool, as was used in insulating refrigerators.  Canvas was stretched over this frame. 
A smoking pipe, built into the nostrils, created the impression the ox was breathing in the cold air.  The eyes were made of automobile tail lights and were connected to a battery.  The horns, made of tin, are 14 feet across.
Babe was mounted on a one and a half ton International truck and was used in parades and shows to promote Bemidji as a tourist destination. After traveling thousands of miles around the country, the damage to the statue was so great it was placed permanently beside the statue of Paul Bunyan on the lakeshore of beautiful Lake Bemidji.  The canvas and insulating material 'hide' was removed and a concrete finish put over the metal lath and painted blue. Thousands of visitors come all year around to see and be photographed with the historic statues of Paul Bunyan and Babe, the Blue Ox.  The National Parks Service recognized these statues an official cultural resource worthy of preservation, adding them to the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.
Robert E. Jorstad was assigned the job of building the sign through the National Youth Administration program.  Bob spent about 20 hours during January and February 1941.  He was attending the North School which was located on 15th and Delton Ave at the time.
Photo taken 2003  
PAUL BUNYAN TALES
To this day, the two statues stand together overlooking the activities of the thousands of visitors who come to see and be photographed with Paul Bunyan and Babe, the Blue Ox. PAUL BUNYAN PHOTOS
 
 
Visitors  Lodging  Attractions  Recreation  Calendar  Planners  Local  Maps  Media  Request Info
 
Visit Bemidji
P.O. Box 66 - Bemidji, Minnesota 56619
Toll Free: 877-250-5959 - Phone: 218-759-0164 - Fax: 218-759-0810 - paul@visitbemidji.com
© 2011 VisitBemidji.com