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The Marvelous Exploits of Paul Bunyan   By: (1882-1958)

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The Marvelous Exploits of Paul Bunyan

as Told in the Camps of the White Pine Lumbermen for Generations During Which Time the Loggers Have Pioneered the Way Through the North Woods From Maine to California Collected from Various Sources and Embellished for Publication

Text and Illustrations


W. B. Laughead

Published for the Amusement of our Friends by

The Red River Lumber Company

Minneapolis, Westwood, Cal., Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco

Historical Note

The Red River Lumber Company takes its name from the Red River of the North, down which the Walkers drove their logs to Winnipeg before the railroads had reached their forest holdings in northern Minnesota. Later on they built a sawmill on the Red River at East Grand Forks, which was followed by the mills at Crookston and Akeley, Minnesota. Their last Minnesota log was cut at Akeley in 1915.

Editorial Note

The first edition of Paul Bunyan and His Big Blue Ox appeared in 1922, with ten thousand copies, followed in the same year with a printing of five thousand. Subsequent editions were printed in 1924, 1927 and 1931. Since the first edition, copies have been sent out only on request.

With this printing, January, 1934, the size of the book has been changed and the supplementary text has been revised. The stories are the same as in the preceding editions, and include material used in small booklets issued by The Red River Lumber Company in 1914 and 1916. So far as we know, this was the first appearance of the Paul Bunyan stories in print.

The student of folklore will easily distinguish the material derived from original sources from that written for the purposes of this book. It should be stated that the names of the supporting characters, including the animals, are inventions by the writer of this version. The oral chroniclers did not, in his hearing, which goes back to 1900, call any of the characters by name except Paul Bunyan himself.

Investigators have failed to establish the source or age of the first Paul Bunyan stories. One of our correspondents, a man of advanced years, wrote us in 1922 that he had heard some of the stories when a boy in his grandfather's logging camps in New York, and that they were supposed to be old at that time. A distinct Paul Bunyan legend has grown up in the oil fields, evidently originating with lumberjacks from the northern and eastern white pine camps who came to work with the drillers.

Paul Bunyan

Scholars Say He is the Only American Myth.

Paul Bunyan is the hero of lumbercamp whoppers that have been handed down for generations. These stories, never heard outside the haunts of the lumberjack until recent years, are now being collected by learned educators and literary authorities who declare that Paul Bunyan is "the only American myth."

The best authorities never recounted Paul Bunyan's exploits in narrative form. They made their statements more impressive by dropping them casually, in an off hand way, as if in reference to actual events of common knowledge. To overawe the greenhorn in the bunkshanty, or the paper collar stiffs and home guards in the saloons, a group of lumberjacks would remember meeting each other in the camps of Paul Bunyan. With painful accuracy they established the exact time and place, "on the Big Onion the winter of the blue snow" or "at Shot Gunderson's camp on the Tadpole the year of the sourdough drive." They elaborated on the old themes and new stories were born in lying contests where the heights of extemporaneous invention were reached.

In these conversations the lumberjack often took on the mannerisms of the French Canadian. This was apparently done without special intent and no reason for it can be given except for a similarity in the mock seriousness of their statements and the anti climax of the bulls that were made, with the braggadocio of the habitant. Some investigators trace the origin of Paul Bunyan to Eastern Canada. Who can say?

Paul Bunyan came to Westwood, California, in 1913 at the suggestion of some of the most prominent loggers and lumbermen in the country... Continue reading book >>

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