Family Owned & Operated Since 1946
There is no escaping them. They stand tall outside the entrance, in full view of the 101 Highway, beckoning all to stop and visit - and many do, by the tens of thousands, every year. Paul Bunyan and his faithful blue ox, Babe, have been our ambassadors, mascots, greeters, and parking lot emcees for ages. Paul even has proven to have significant talent as a weatherman. Once inside the park, on the Trail of Tall Tales, visitors are continually reminded of Paul and Babe's presence via the redwood carvings depicting their many exploits and adventures.
Far from being the tall, dark, strong, and silent type, Paul Bunyan speaks! With an animated wave of his hand and a great big "Hello there!" our big woodsman greets many visitors as they walk across the parking lot. Commenting on their clothing or asking any of kids present questions, riddles or telling jokes. For some it comes as a big (and pleasant) surprise - and just another one of those many charming things about Trees of Mystery in general.
Though Paul and Babe are permanent Klamath, California residents, and famous local landmarks to boot. They did not start out here. No sir! According to some, the first tales of a 6'4" Paul Bunyan (possibly Bonyenne) were told by French Canadians around the time of the Papineau Rebellion in 1837. But none of these were ever published. In 1906, James MacGillivray published his own story called "The Round River Drive" in the Oscoda, Michigan, Press, which was the first mention of Paul Bunyan in literature. Not too much time passed and other authors published tales and outrageous stories that only grew the legend further. Soon Paul was an 8' tall, 300+ lbs giant. But, then in 1916, an advertising writer, William Laughead, introduced Paul to the wider world in an ad campaign for a lumber company. At this time Paul Bunyan and his blue ox "Babe" grew to enormous size (big enough to stride across the Mississippi, or dig the Grand Canyon as an irrigation ditch). Laughead’s campaign also created the first printed pictorial representations of Bunyan. By and large (pun fully intended) this is the true beginning of the character we all know now as Paul Bunyan, along with his faithful sidekick Babe, the blue ox. Many stories have been told and written since. And no doubt many more will continue to be. Meanwhile, Paul seems satisfied to live "off the grid" here at Trees of Mystery, collect his royalty checks, and simply hang out with regular folks and the enormous trees he loves so much.
Over the years there have been a number of depictions of Paul and Babe erected on the Trees of Mystery location. These have been of varing sizes and not always in the same place in the parking lot. Statues have sometimes gotten damaged and had to be repaired, replaced or repainted. The current images are constructed of wooden beams, wire and cement stucco. Paul Bunyan stands proud at 49'2' high and weigh in at a petite 30,000 lbs. His waist is a firm 52 feet around. His chest is a robust 66 feet in circumference. His strong arms measure 27 feet each. Even his boots are 10 feet high! His pal Babe is similarly humongous. The big blue ox measures 35 feet at the horn tips, and weighs just as much as Paul does - tilting the scales at a trim, powder blue, 30,000 lbs. No diets for these guys. It's enough to make your head spin. Perhaps that's part of what happened, late in 2007, when Babe's 1000-pound, 9-foot-wide head fell to the ground as a result of rain damaged materials. The head has since been replaced and reinforced.
Paul is not the least bit camera shy. He can't afford to be with a web cam trained on him 24/7. And, with a great big smile and a waving hand Paul greets all comers to Trees of Mystery. You almost might expect him to break out in a song and a dance. But kids often clamor over his boots - so he has to be careful. Paul kids with the kiddies and shares his outspoken opinions with visitors on a variety of entertaining topics. But, since he and Babe find themselves standing outdoors day or night, rain or shine, it is in an accurate analysis of the weather that Paul has shown particular interest and talent. You can also get a taste for his dry wit as a comedian as well. When you stand in the open as much as he has to, it pays to have a sense of humor.
Paul’s companion, Babe, is a massive creature with exceptional strength. Babe figures prominently in many of Paul's best tall tales. There is told a story about the formation of Great Lakes that's centered around Babe. Paul created the lakes because he needed to create a watering hole large enough for Babe to drink from. There are also stories telling that the 10,000 Lakes of Minnesota were formed from the footprints of Paul and Babe while they wandered blindly in a great blizzard. Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett were said to have given Babe to Paul Bunyan, because they were all "woodsey" pioneer friends. And, no doubt, Babe must've helped Paul when he created Mount Hood by piling rocks on top of his campfire to put it out.
The present Paul Bunyan showed up the year before the Seattle Worlds Fair, which was in the early sixties. It might be that he knew if he stood here in our lot, he'd get to talk to lots of people on their way to and from the fair! The present Babe has been there since 1952. At one time, Babe's head nodded and smoke blew out his nostrils. The smoke scared some children, so that was discontinued. The head movement is now inoperable due to bracing installed when he was moved to the other side of the parking lot in 1983 to make room for the new End of the Trail Museum. If you are familiar with oxen, you might notice a few "details" that a normal oxen does not have. That's because the fellow who originally put Babe together was fresh from the city and built Babe from a kit. When this was pointed out, it was decided that, since poor old Babe had suffered enough already what with turning blue, he should be left just as he was built, even if he's not anatomically correct for an ox. Also, it happens to be a very popular photo-op.