March 19th, 2008 - Brainerd, MN
This Babe used to be part of the Paul Bunyan Center in Baxter, MN. The Paul Bunyan Center opened in 1950. The centerpiece of the Center was a 26-foot tall statue of Paul Bunyan that greeted children by name. In 2003, the Center closed due to the high cost of running the park. A local business, This Old Farm, bought Paul and Babe and many of the rides and moved them out to their property 7 miles east of Brainerd. Soon the amusement park reopened as Paul Bunyan Land.
Now you see, I knew that Paul and Babe had been moved to a farm east of Brainerd. And I knew that the farm was on highway 18 somewhere. What I didn't know, or realize, was that they were still in amusement park form. I had kind of figured that they had been "saved" by somebody and moved out to their property where they would sit, undemolished. I was somewhat right. I could have figured this all out with a little bit of research, but I thought I had it all figured out already.
It turns out that Paul Bunyan Land is only open from Memorial Day through Labor Day and is closed for the winter. I guess it's just not as amusing when you can't feel your fingers. I was a little concerned that this stop on our trip might not work out, but I stand by the trip regardless. Babe stands out in the parking lot to greet visitors, so we were able to get plenty of pictures with Babe. (You can see that he still had lights on him from the holidays.) You have to pay to go inside the park to see Paul. That's fine, I like Babe better anyway.
We tried to see if we could get a peak of something Bunyan from outside the chain-link fence, but, apparently, Paul either hibernates or is a flight risk as he is all caged up in the off season. So we didn't end up getting to see this Paul Bunyan, but we did see Babe and that's a plus. We aren't concerned about it. We can find a way to get out to Brainerd some summer and actually see Paul.
Tip: Try visting in the summer.
My wife and I are on a mission to visit all the oversized local landmarks throughout Minnesota. This blog chronicles those visits and covers other related topics.