Friday, May 21, 2010
Babe the Big Blue Ox was given to Paul Bunyan on Paul’s first birthday. The ox grew to such proportions that he measured forty-two ordinary axe handles and a plug of chewing tobacco between the eyes. Babe could pull anything that had two ends to it; Paul was known to hitch his blue ox to a whole section of forest and drag it to the landing. Babe would eat thirty bales of hay for a snack --- baling wire and all. Every time they made shoes for Babe they had to open a new iron mine.
There were stories of Paul Bunyan being told in Minnesota logging camps for a number of years around the turn of the century. In 1914 his image became the trademark of The Red River Lumber Company, and in 1922 the first edition of the promotional leaflet, Paul Bunyan and His Big Blue Ox, were published by that same company.
The Red River Lumber Company took its name from the Red River of the North “up” which it floated its logs to Winnipeg, Canada. (The Red River of the North flows north to Hudson Bay.) Later they built a sawmill on the Red River at East Grand Forks, Minnesota.
Bemidji, Minnesota has been home to Paul Bunyan and Babe the Big Blue Ox since 1937. They can be seen there live on web-cam at http://www.bemidji.org/paulandbabe.php (It’s sort of like watching paint dry.)
Scout the Ox’s pasture lies halfway between East Grand Forks and Bemidji so he almost certainly shares his heritage with Babe the Big Blue Ox.