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Part One: Is Paul Bunyan a Mainer? 

At 31 feet, he stands tall on Main Street, he looks over the Penobscot River, greeting everyone who drives through Bangor.He’s Paul Bunyan, the great American folk lore hero.”He is reputed to have carved out the Penobscot River just with his ax and his dog. Maybe he built Mt. Katahdin. This was a man who did a lot in his young life and he doesn’t look that old to me either,” says Bangor historian Richard Shaw. Shaw remembers the first time he saw Paul Bunyan. it was in 1959, a snowy day when the statue was erected in Bangor.”I remember that a couple of classmates and I got to stand in Paul Bunyan’s boots when they were put down first, thesegigantic boots, we had never seen anything quite that big and just unique,” he said.The city of Bangor was celebrating its 125th anniversary.For the celebration, Connie Bronson of Veazie came up with the idea of a Paul Bunyan statue as a dedication to Bangor. The statue would be a nod to the days when Bangor was the lumberjack capital of the world in the 1800’s.Local artist Normand Martin made a miniature sculpture of Bunyan right in his own home.”I did it in my kitchen in my home I made the scale model it was about 22 inches high out of clay and had wires in it tosupport it,” he said.Martin says the inspiration for Bunyan was just a figment of his imagination. It took one week to come up with the scale model.The model was presented to a company in New York City and Paul Bunyan was born.More than 50 years later, Martin says he’s proud of the legacy the statue has left behind.”Because it’s good for Bangor anyone who is interested in it, impressed with it or likes it to me that’s all pluses,” Martin said.There are several Paul Bunyan statues throughout the United States but Bangor’s is reputed to be the largest in the nation.Many say it’s fitting since it’s in his hometown, but even that is up for debate.”If you go to City Hall, you’ll see his birth certificate right there hanging, just ask the city clerk,” Shaw says.The certificate says Paul was born on February 12, 1834 and it’s signed by the Bangor City Clerk on January 29, 1950.Today when Shaw looks at Bunyan, he wonders what lies beneath paul’s great big smile after all these years.Bangor’s seen many changes and Paul has seen them all.”I think of all that’s happened in my life since I was six years old, all that’s happened in the city, a whole differentlandscape, a racino, I often wonder what he’d think, what he has been thinking since 1864,” he said.