BEMIDJI, Minn. — Bemidji's most iconic duo is getting a much-needed makeover, from the top of Paul Bunyan's shoulder to the bottom of Babe's hooves.
Crews have been hard at work in Paul Bunyan Park, making multiple repairs to the two statues in Bemidji's downtown. The work had been scheduled for this later summer but was moved ahead of schedule after the Paul Bunyan statue sustained damage earlier this month.
Video obtained by the Bemidji Police Department of the incident caught individuals hanging on the arm of Paul Bunyan that resulted in the damage. The concrete on the arm gave way, and it was held only by the statue's internal rebar.
Earlier this spring, the city hired Jensen Conservation to work on both statues, as they have needed some work. Following the damage, the company pushed up its schedule to restore both Paul and Babe statues.
The 18-foot Paul Bunyan statue has been in the park on the shore of Lake Bemidji since its construction in 1937, and the Babe the Blue Ox statue was created around the same time. Originally, the ox statue was used in parades and shows to promote Bemidji as a tourist destination.
However, because of damage caused to Babe, it was permanently set next to Paul.
The statues are on the National Register of Historic Places and have been listed on National Geographic's Top 10 U.S. Roadside Attractions.
In Minnesota, two other communities, Akeley and Brainerd, have Paul Bunyan statues.