August-20-2020. USA, Minnesota, Bemidji. Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox.
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Did You Know There Are More Than 30 Paul Bunyan Statues in the US?!?

No matter how old you are, there’s a good chance that you’ve heard at least one of the famous tall tales of Paul Bunyan. This gentle giant and his companion Babe the Blue Ox are said to have accomplished a great many feats that helped shape the United States.

While this massive man is said to have been so big that he had superhuman strength and broke windows with his laughter, he’s also said to have carved Michigan’s familiar mitten shape, formed at least two Great Lakes, Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes, the Mississippi River, and the Grand Canyon.

Paul’s existence continues to be debated, but there’s no doubt of his influence. Several states claim to be the birthplace of the legendary lumberjack, and he’s immortalized in massive statues across the nation, which continue to be popular tourist attractions.

August-20-2020. USA, Minnesota, Bemidji. Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox.
Paul Bunyan – Bemidji, Minnesota I Photo Credit: Danita Delimont / Shutterstock

Was Paul Bunyan Real?

Unfortunately, Paul Bunyan was not a real historical figure, and tales of his heroic accomplishments were likely created by lumberjacks in 19th-century logging camps. It’s said that some of his more legendary exploits may have been made up on the spot around campfires by longtime lumberjacks looking to haze rookies.

While tales of Paul may have originated in the Upper Midwest, the stories spread from coast to coast, leading many states to claim to be his birthplace. Tales of his exploits include…

  • Forming the Mississippi River when a heavy container he was carrying sprung a leak
  • Forming the Grand Canyon after dragging his axe behind him while searching for wood
  • Extinguishing a fire in Oregon by piling rocks on it, thus creating Mount Hood.

Paul’s Basis

But, there’s evidence to suggest that Paul may have been based on a pair of real people. One is Fabian “Saginaw Joe” Fournier, a French-Canadian lumberjack who worked in Northern Michigan from 1865-75. The other is a soldier and French-Canadian lumberjack named Paul Bon Jean.

Bangor Civic Center-Bangor, Maine
Bangor Civic Center – Bangor, Maine | photo via lqriann

Where Exactly Did Paul Bunyan Come From?

Where did Paul Bunyan and Babe originate? Well, that depends on where you look and who you ask. Some say Canada. Others say Michigan, Minnesota, or Maine. What is true is that this mythical giant and his famed blue ox are legendary and continue to be celebrated.

In 1916, advertising copywriter William Laughead wrote a pamphlet for a lumber company that included information about Paul. In creating a marketing campaign, he took some creative license — embellished existing exploits, added some of his own, increased Bunyan’s height to mythical proportions, created the first photo representation, and gave Babe the Blue Ox her name.

Laughead’s early marketing campaign launched Paul into the national public consciousness, establishing him and Babe as a marketing symbol. This eventually included gigantic statues that were used to promote tourism and local business.


The Great Lakes State is one of several states to stake a claim as the birthplace of the jolly giant. In 2006, Michigan officially designated the Lake Huron coastal town of Oscoda as the birthplace of Paul Bunyan’s legend — first written in 1906 by James MacGillivray.

A 1906 article, based on MacGillivray’s stories, was based on Fournier, who worked around Grayling Michigan in the 1860s and 1870s. MacGillivray’s tales took on new life when they were republished in 1910 in the Detroit News. Paul’s legend grew, and many of his exploits were said to have taken place in Michigan:

  • Using Saginaw Bay for a bathtub, and sometime later, making the bay bigger — turning it into Lake Huron
  • Digging out Lake Michigan and Lake Superior with just his boot heel to give Babe watering holes to drink
  • Losing his mitten and being so cold during a snowstorm that he carved a mitten into the earth, giving Michigan its familiar mitten shape

On top of all that, the Michigan-Michigan State football rivalry is the biggest in the state, and the winner of the annual matchup is awarded the Paul Bunyan Trophy.


Minnesota legend has it that Paul and Babe left behind gigantic fingerprints in the state, thereby creating the state’s famous 10,000 lakes. Laughead’s first advertising campaign featuring Paul was for the Red River Lumbering Co. based in Minneapolis.

The Northern Minnesota town of Bemidji claims to be the birthplace of Paul. An 18-foot statue of the giant has stood in town as “proof” for more than 80 years. The town is known as “The First City on the Mississippi” and is located on the shores of Lake Bemidji, which is the northernmost lake to feed the Mississippi River that Paul supposedly created.

Also, Bemidji is home to the Paul Bunyan Land petting zoo and campground. The town has a connection to the 115-mile-long Paul Bunyan State Trail too, the longest of Minnesota’s state trails.

Additionally, outdoor enthusiasts can spend time exploring the Paul Bunyan State Forest, which is located in Cass and Hubbard Counties and covers more than 100,000 acres. It is open to the public for fishing, hunting, paddling, hiking, and much more.

Paul can even be found at the Mall of America as part of the Log Chute (formerly known as Paul Bunyan’s Log Chute) at Nickelodeon Universe. A 19-foot Paul is paired with Babe to greet eager riders.


Depending on who you ask, Paul is said to have been born deep within the Maine woods near Bangor, known by some as the Queen City, owing to his origins as a mighty lumberjack and Bangor’s reputation in the 1800s as the “Lumber Capitol of the World.”

Bangor even backs up its claim as Paul’s birthplace with a birth certificate dated February 18, 1834, in the city clerk’s office.

A book from 1945 recounts that Paul outgrew his cradle as a baby and had an arc moored for him in Penobscot Bay by his father. The book further states that the young Paul grew restless and rocked until he created a tidal wave that wiped out half a dozen Maine villages.


As you’ve read, Paul Bunyan has roots in the Upper Midwest, including Wisconsin. One of the earliest reliably dated references came from a logging camp in Tomahawk where a timber cruiser named Bill Mulhollen is purported to have told a tale about the noble giant.

Folklorist Charles Brown, who was once director of the Wisconsin Historical Society Museum, gathered stories about Bunyan in pamphlets during the mid-1900s. According to the pamphlets, he stood 7 feet tall and had a 7-foot stride. He was credited with creating Lake Superior and the Mississippi River, and Babe was said to have the strength of nine horses.

Residents and visitors can visit the Wisconsin Logging Museum in Eau Claire, which is home to the Paul Bunyan Logging Camp. Visitors can get their photo taken with Paul and Babe and learn about logging life in Wisconsin. 

Additionally, the winner of the annual matchup in the Wisconsin-Minnesota football rivalry is awarded Paul Bunyan’s Axe.

Trees of Mystery-Klamath, California
Trees of Mystery – Klamath, California | photo via myssterries

Where to Find Paul Bunyan Statues in the US

Paul Bunyan’s larger-than-life tales resulted in numerous statues of the famous giant being built throughout the United States.

In the 1960s, massive fiberglass sculptures between 18 and 25 feet tall were built for roadside attractions and advertising icons. The first of these so-called “muffler men” was a statue of Paul holding an axe — created for an Arizona restaurant on Route 66.

This statue was used as a template for other statues, which were turned into different characters holding different gigantic items. Here’s where you can find some of them.

Klamath California

A 49-foot statue of Paul can be found at Trees of Mystery on Highway 101 in Klamath. Both Paul and Babe stand tall outside the entrance, serving as unofficial ambassadors. This Paul nods his head, blinks his eyes, and waves, welcoming visitors of all ages to this attraction.

Cheshire Connecticut

This 26-foot “Muffler Man” Paul Bunyan was placed in front of a local lumber shop in the 1980s. His axe was replaced with an American flag after objections from residents about the statue’s height. The statue can be found at 540 W. Johnson Ave.

University Park Illinois

A 25-foot statue, known as “Exhausted Paul Bunyan,” stands at 1 University Pkwy at Governors State University. His axe hangs from his right arm in a treeless field, suggesting that he’s tired after a long day of work.

Muncie Indiana

Even the Hoosier State celebrates Paul with a 25-foot-tall statue that serves as the mascot of a bar called Timbers Lounge. The bar can be found at 2770 W. Kilgore Ave on the south side of Muncie.

Forest City Iowa

A 9-foot statue of Babe the Blue Ox stands on the roadside of Highway 69 just south of Forest City.

Bangor Maine

A massive 3,700-pound, 31-foot statue of Paul can be found in Bangor in front of the Bangor Civic Center in Bass Park and is mentioned in the Stephen King novel “It.” The statue has a fiberglass-over-metal frame and is hurricane-proof. Also, it’s reputed to be the world’s largest statue of the legend, depicting Paul holding an axe in his right hand as it rests on his shoulder and a peavey in his left hand.

Paul Bunyan Days, Oscoda - Fall in East Michigan
Paul Bunyan Days – Oscoda, Michigan | photo via @eldonmcgrawmedia

Michigan Locations


On the Lake Huron coast, this 13-foot-tall statue can be found in front of Furtaw Field. It was brought to Oscoda in 1971 and restored in 1983 with fiberglass.


This massive 25-foot tall statue of Paul leaning on his giant axe can be found on US-23 about 10 miles south of Alpena. Next to Paul is a Babe the Blue Ox statue that stands 10 feet tall.


A 28-foot-tall metal sculpture of Paul stands on the campus of Alpena Community College, whose sports teams are known as the Lumberjacks.

West Branch

This statue, known locally as the Giant Lumberjack, could be seen as a tribute to Paul Bunyan and sits in front of the Lumber Jack Food & Spirits in West Branch. The restaurant’s menu includes offerings like Lumberman’s Hash, the Big Axe Burger, and the Sawman’s Jackel.

St Ignace

Just over the Mackinac Bridge in St. Ignace are statues of a sitting Paul and Babe behind chainlink fencing at the site of Castle Rock.


Farther into the Upper Peninsula in Manistique stands a 15-foot statue right in front of the town’s Chamber of Commerce.


Located just east of M-50 in Brooklyn, Paul and his axe can be seen in front of Knutson’s Sporting Goods store.

Paul Bunyan Historical Museum-Akeley, Minnesota
Paul Bunyan Historical Museum – Akeley, Minnesota | photo via diannemsw

Minnesota Locations


Nestled in Northwest Minnesota, this kneeling Paul statue invites visitors to climb into his open palm for a photo op. The statue was unveiled in 1985 during the city’s annual Paul Bunyan Days. The statue is located in front of the Paul Bunyan Historical Museum.


This 18-foot statue of the burly legend made its debut in 1937 and sits on the shore of Lake Bemidji. The 10-foot-tall Babe statue was added in 1939.


A 12-foot statue of Paul greets visitors at the local welcome center. It’s a great spot to rest, grab some brochures, and snap a photo with the giant, who sits upon a stump with his left hand resting on his knee.

North Las Vegas Nevada

At 965 W Craig Rd at Lumberjacks Restaurant, a burly fiberglass statue of Paul stands on a tree stump.

Albuquerque New Mexico

Atop the May Cafe at the intersection of Central Ave and Louisiana Blvd is an ax-holding Paul that stands 27 feet tall on a 20-foot platform.

Old Forge New York

A 19-foot statue of Paul Bunyan has been a mainstay at the Enchanted Forest Water Safari in Old Forge since 1956. He stands tall with an axe resting in his left hand while he leans on a log with his right.

New Town North Dakota

On Highway 23 in New Town stands a 19-foot statue of Earl Bunyan, said to be a brother of Paul. The statue was built in 1958.

Portland Oregon

Situated in Portland’s Kenton neighborhood, this Paul stands 31 feet tall and is made out of metal and concrete. It was built in 1959 to commemorate the centennial of Oregon’s statehood. It can be found at the southwest corner of N Denver Ave.

Puyallup Washington

This ax-toting statue stands beneath tall trees at the Paul Bunyan Rifle Club at 17902 Meridian E in Puyallup. The club is private, so asking permission is suggested for travelers who want to get close to the statue.

West Virginia Locations


Fiberglass statues of Paul and Babe can be found at Town and Country Supply at 4400 1st Ave.


Paul and Babe statues are kept in a shed on the Putnam County Fairgrounds on County Park Rd and make appearances during warm weather events.

Timbers Lounge-Muncie, Indiana
Timbers Lounge | photo via bryangrondfeldt

Other Paul Bunyan “Muffler Man” Statues

While the original “muffler man” statue was used as a template for other characters, many of these statues can still be seen around the United States:

  • Leo’s Auto and Home Supply/Don’s Hot Rod Shop in Tucson Arizona on the corner of Glenn St and North Stone Ave
  • Atop Guardian Auto Re-builders at 8939 S Kedzie Ave in Evergreen Park Illinois (statue is known as BIG FAT)
  • Pink Elephant Antique Mall in Livingston Illinois at 908 Veterans Memorial Dr, alongside Beach Boy statues
  • Lamb’s Farm in Libertyville Illinois at 14245 W Rockland Rd
  • Yasgur Rd in Bethel New York (a “hippie” depiction)
  • At the entrance to Camp Bullowa in Stony Point New York
  • Rumford Maine at Boivin Park alongside Babe
  • Original Log Cabin Company in Rocky Mount North Carolina at 7677 North Halifax Rd (holding an axe alongside Babe)
  • Shelton Washington at 180 W Hilbert Rd on the other side of US-101 (Paul and Babe also serve as the mascots of the Mason County Forest Festival)
  • Fasco Appliance in Oshkosh Wisconsin at 3260 Walter St

List of Paul Bunyan Celebrations & Festivals

While Paul can be seen in dozens of statues, his heroic deeds are celebrated each year in towns across the United States”

  • Paul Bunyan Day on June 28 with different nationwide celebrations
  • The Blue Ox Marathon in Bemidji Minnesota in October
  • Paul Bunyan Days in Oscoda Township Michigan in September
  • Paul Bunyan Days in Saint Maries Idaho during Labor Day weekend
  • Paul Bunyan Days in Fort Bragg California during Labor Day weekend
  • The Paul Bunyan Show at the Guernsey County Fairgrounds in Lore City Ohio in October
  • Paul Bunyan Days in Akeley Minnesota in June
map of Paul Bunyan statues in the U.S.

Chart Your Own Paul Bunyan Journey Today

Paul Bunyan’s tales of carving lakes, creating canyons, and logging trees may be the stuff of legends. But, the dozens of towering statues of Paul and his blue ox Babe are evidence of his continued status in US pop culture.

With statues all over the country, travelers don’t have to go far to see them up close. Whether they’re driving by on a road trip or stopping to take a selfie, these statues are impressive.

Make plans to see these statues for yourself or attend one of the annual Paul Bunyan festivals to learn more about this jolly giant and his tall tales.