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Part II: Is Paul Bunyan a Mainer? 

From Bangor, Maine we travel to Bemidji, Minnesota.The population is just a little over 13-thousand including one very famous resident, Paul Bunyan.According to Carol Olson with the Bemidji Tourist Information Center,this charming city was the first place to have a Paul Bunyan statue.”737 man hours were used to construct it. The statue is a framework of wood, a non barge form the outline,” she said.The 18-foot statue was constructed in 1937. Standing right next to him is his sidekick, Babe the Blue Ox, who arrived two years later.Because of Minnesota’s rich history of logging and forestry, it’s no surprise there are other Pauls in the state.A statue in Akeley has Paul’s crib next to it but Olson and Bemidji are sticking to their claim.”Most of the other statues of Paul Bunyan came around in the years of the 1950’s and ours had been standing for twenty years,” Olson said.Michigan also has claimed to be Paul’s birthplace.In 2006, the Michigan legislature declared Oscoda as the official home of Paul Bunyan.According to historian Fred Glass, the proclamation recognizes Oscodaas Bunyan’s literary home.”The first story ever put to print was written by James McGillivary in the 1906 paper for the homecoming of lumberjacks coming to the area,” Glass said.Glass says the tale describes Paul as the leader of a logging gang. The story is recognized by the Encyclopedia Brittanica.Oscoda honored Paul with a 13-foot statue in the 1970’s. The statue also pays tribute to Michigan’s history and the midwestern lifestyle.”Paul Bunyan was the first American folk lore hero, person there were lots that came after him but Paul Bunyan was the first which is quite spectacular and for us to be the literary home it brings back the history of the logging industry and the feat of the white pines that used to be around here,” he said.Glass doesn’t deny Paul has other birthplaces because of his massive size, but says he’s proud Oscoda holds the title of being Paul’s literary home.”It probably started in French Canada and moved westward as did the logging industry there are tales of him all the way in Washington and California but Paul was so big, he could do a feat like that log from place to place,” Glass said.From the looks of it. he did. Fort Bragg, California features one of the biggest Paul Bunyan festivals in the United States. It began more than 70 years ago and continues to provide old fashioned fun for the community.The festival celebrates the timber industry, a succesful component of the Fort Bragg area.From the west coast to the east coast, Paul Bunyan’s presence is seen all across North America.The statues stand tall after all these years, greeting visitors and symbolizing a time gone by.So, where is he from? Paul isn’t saying, so I’ll leave it up to you to make up your own claim.