Paul Bunyan: Story & Facts

Instructor: Heather Jenkins

Heather has a bachelor's degree in elementary education and a master's degree in special education. She was a public school teacher and administrator for 11 years.

Giant axes, a blue ox, and skates made of bacon are all a part of the Paul Bunyan story. Bigger than life, this character has been a well-known part of American history for years. Let's get ready to learn all about Paul Bunyan.

Manifest Destiny and More Space

Have you ever wanted a bigger room? Maybe a larger area for your comic book collection or room for a hot tub and an indoor pool? During the 1800s and 1900s, the idea of Manifest Destiny swept the country as people wanted ''more room'' and believed in expanding the size of the United States. One man became a role model for those believing in Manifest Destiny. Do you know who it is?

In the 1800s, Americans moved west, looking for more room.

Paul Bunyan: Literary Hero

Paul Bunyan is a literary character best known for the stories about his size and strength as a lumberjack traveling across America. Stories of Paul Bunyan no doubt began as campfire tales or bedtime stories in the 1800s. Historians think his story could be based on the travels of Fabian Fournier, who was a 6-foot-tall lumberjack that traveled all over the country working.

Modern day statue of Paul Bunyan

However the stories started, Paul Bunyan became famous when one was published in a Michigan newspaper in 1906. After that, the Red River Lumberjack Company used him in their advertisements. His strength and ability to overcome problems in the wilderness were popular in America because of the people's desire to explore western North America and other lands.

Who is your role model? Just like you might look up to an athlete or the President of the United States, Americans wanted to be like Paul Bunyan.

The Legend of Paul Bunyan

According to the tales, Paul Bunyan was born in Bangor, Maine. He was so big that it took five storks to deliver him to his parents. You would NOT want to be the person in charge of changing that baby's diapers!

Within weeks, Paul Bunyan was as big as his father and kept growing until he towered over the forest. Paul Bunyan was so strong that with a single swipe of his ax, he could take down whole forests. In fact, it's said that he made the Grand Canyon just by dragging his ax on the ground and dug Lake Michigan!

In one of the most famous tales, Paul found a large blue ox, named Babe, in some snow drifts. Babe traveled with Paul, and they solved problems wherever they went. For example, they straightened out the Whistling River by hand and cleared a log jam on the Wisconsin River with Babe's tail. Next time you need to clean the ''log jam'' of toys in your room, try swishing your 'tail' and see how successful you are!

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