Coming home from mom’s in Oregon we stopped by the Trees of Mystery, a favorite road side attraction on the 101. On a busy day they even have Paul talking to the guests and waving his huge hand. “Hey there, young girl in the pink shirt!”
I was always fond of Paul Bunyan, who I think of as our northwest version of John Henry. A champion of the working man who muscled his way ahead of technology. While John Henry could beat the stream shovel with his 9-pound hammer, old Paul Bunyan took on the chainsaw with his mighty axe.
As it turns out, Paul Bunyan has his roots in French-Canadian folklore, most likely from the woods of north eastern America. Eventually he made his way to the Dakotas where he becomes famous for cutting millions of feet of timber in the winter of the “blue snow”. And of course his trusty blue ox.
Eventually Paul met up with good-ole American marketing when the Red River Lumber Company incorporated Paul as a mascot in 1914. The new Paul Bunyan was ridiculously tall and the blue ox was affectionately named “Babe”. Apparently his camp stove and hotcake griddle were so large that it was greased by men using sides of bacon for skates! This is the Bunyan who was eventually memorialized in the Disney cartoons from the 1950s I watched as a kid.