Just answering the ? from the gopher thread!
PAUL BUNYAN, AN AMERICAN LEGEND
Paul Bunyan, the mythical king of lumberjacks, lives on in Bemidji!
The greatest outdoorsman who ever lived was Paul Bunyan and the tall stories invented by fisherman and hunters to this day can never equal the 'truth' to Paul's exploits in the north woods.
This legendary superman and woodsman, hero of the early logging days, was born in Bemidji, Minnesota. The actual site of his birth is marked today by giant statues of both Paul Bunyan and his Blue Ox, Babe, standing on the shoreline of Lake Bemidji.
Old-time loggers recall the excitement of Paul's birth when it took five giant storks, working in relays, to deliver Paul to his parents. And what a baby Paul was; his lungs were so strong that he could empty a whole pond full of frogs with one holler when he was hungry. It took a whole herd of cows to keep his milk bottle filled and he could eat forty bowls of porridge just to whet his appetite.
Paul cut his teeth on a peavy pole and grew so fast that one week after being born, he had to wear his father's clothes. A lumber wagon, drawn by a team of oxen, was Paul's baby carriage and by the time Paul was one year old, his clothing was so large he had to use the wagon wheels for buttons. Only the great outdoors was big enough to accommodate Paul, and it was natural that he should become the World's Greatest Lumberjack.
In the year of the 'Blue Snow' when it was so cold the geese flew backward, Paul found a baby ox in the snow. It was so cold, the ox and snow was blue. After Paul took him home and warmed him, his color stayed blue. Paul named him Babe. Like Paul, Babe grew fast and soon was seven ax handles and a plug of tobacco wide between the eyes. For a between meals snack, Babe would eat thirty bales of hay, wire and all. It took six men with picaroons to pick the wire out of his teeth.
Babe hauled the huge camp tank wagon which was used to pave the winter logging roads with ice. When it sprang a leak one day, it created Lake Itasca south of Bemidji and the overflow trickled down to New Orleans to form the Mississippi River. And since Babe refused to haul logs unless there was snow on the ground, Paul had to whitewash the roads in the summer
Babe had many jobs around the logging camp where the laundryman hung out the wash on Babe's horns. But perhaps Babe's biggest job was pulling the kinks out of crooked logging roads.
Paul and Babe were a good team, no feat of strength or courage was beyond them. No obstacles ever stumped them. Paul could cut down acres of timber single-handedly in just a few minutes by tying his huge ax to the end of a long rope and swinging it in circles. Babe could haul the logs away as fast as Paul could cut them.
Paul's booming voice forced his lumberjacks to wear earmuffs the year round. His lung power was so great, he called his logging crews together by whistling through a hollow tree. Once, he blew too hard and blew down 12 acres of jack pine. Every time Paul sneezed, he blew the roof off the bunkhouse.
Paul's logging crew was made up of giants too, but none as big nor as strong as the "King of the Lumberjacks". Never the less, his loggers were all over six feet sitting down and they sharpened their axes by holding them against huge stones rolling down a hill.
That brings us to the time when it was so cold in Bemidji, it was called the 'Year of Two Winters'. The snow was so deep, Paul had to dig down to find the trees. It got so cold, the boiling coffee froze so fast it was still hot when frozen.
The loggers let their beards grow full length that year and soon had to tuck them in their boots to keep from tripping. In the spring, Paul cut the beards with a large scythe, stacked them like hay and sold them for making mattresses.
During the 'Year of Two Winters', it was so cold at the camp on Lake Bemidji, words froze in mid-air. When the words thawed out in the spring, there was a huge roar of conversation heard 600 miles away in Chicago.
That was the year, too, when all the fish went south for the winter. Paul Bunyan then crossed the Walleyes and Northern Pike with bobcats and ever since, the fish in Bemidji grow fur coats in the winter. To this day, the skin from one fur-bearing fish is enough to make a full-length coat.
Paul's camp crew is deserving of mention. There was Sourdough Sam, the camp cook, for instance. He made flapjacks on a griddle so big it had to be greased by skaters with slabs of bacon tied to their feet. Once, when a load of pork and beans, pulled by a team of oxen, went through the ice of Lake Bemidji, Sam had huge fires built along the shore and boiled the lake to make soup. All that winter, he fed the loggers bean soup with an ox-tail flavor.
Johnny Inkslinger, the camp bookkeeper, invented the fountain pen by running a hose from a barrel of ink to his pen. He saved five barrels of ink one summer by not dotting his "i's" or crossing his "t's".
Big Ole, the camp blacksmith, was the only man besides Paul who was strong enough to make shoes for Babe, the Blue Ox. In his spare time, Big Ole was kept busy punching holes in doughnuts so big, two men could carry only three of them on a long pole.
There was Shot Gunderson, the giant camp foreman, who once dropped logs into a lake without an outlet and had to empty the tank wagon to float the logs overland to New Orleans. And Chris Crosshaul, the straw boss, who once sent the wrong logs to New Orleans. Paul brought them back to Bemidji by having Babe take a huge gulp from the waters of the Mississippi River to reverse the current.
Finally, there was Sport-the-Reversible dog. One of the loggers accidentally cut this camp pet in two with an ax. In his haste to sew him up, the logger stitched Sport's hindquarters on upside down. This didn't hinder Sport who ran on his front legs until they were tired, then he flipped over and ran on his back legs. Sport's diet consisted mainly of door-to-door salesmen and Internal Revenue agents who visited the camp.
Paul wandered far from Bemidji at times and when his crew logged off North and South Dakota, there was the problem of what to do with the stumps. Paul solved the problem by having Big Ole make a two-ton maul with which Paul beat the stumps into the ground. This is why there are so few trees today in the Dakotas. When Babe died, he was buried in South Dakota, his burial mound forming what is now known as the Black Hills.
But Paul Bunyan, the King of the Lumberjacks, lives on. Each year he returns to Bemidji to fish and play in the hundreds of lakes in his birthplace. For those who miss his annual visit, a huge statue of Paul, 18 feet tall weighing 2 1/2 tons, stands on the shore of beautiful Lake Bemidji. Next to Paul, stands a statue of Babe, the Blue Ox, all five tons of the mightiest Ox that ever lived!