Paul Bunyan Statues in Michigan – Where to Find the Legendary Lumberman
Several Michigan towns claim to be the birthplace of legendary lumberman Paul Bunyan, with Oscoda having the best claim thanks to James McGillivray publishing stories in the paper there as early as 1906. A state proclamation from then-governor Jennifer Granholm in 2006 further cemented the claim, though Ossineke (30 miles to the north) has also stake its claim. Statues can be found in both peninsulas, usually in areas where lumbering was once the main industry at the turn of the century. They all depict the lumberjack as larger than life, bearded and wearing flannel while holding an ax. Two of the five locations here also feature his traveling and working companion, Babe the Blue Ox. Check out these great roadside attractions in Michigan that honor the country’s best-known lumberjack.
Ossineke – The Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox statues here are just off the side of US-23, standing tall next to a stand of pine trees. This statue of the great lumberjack stands about 25 feet tall and was moved here in 2006 after many years at a different location.
US-23 at Nicholson Hill Rd., Ossineke
Alpena – This unique Paul Bunyan was built in the 1960s using Kaiser automobile fenders and hoods. It is 28 feet tall and has called several locations home over the years, but it can now be found on the campus of Alpena Community College.
666 Johnson St., Alpena (ACC parking lot next to Park Arena)
Oscoda – A 13 foot tall Paul Bunyan can be found here on the side of US-23 in a city park. Decked out in flannel with an ax in one hand a tree in the other, this statue has been a local staple for more than four decades. Oscoda hosts a festival named for Bunyan each year, featuring chainsaw carving demonstrations and contests, a car show, and many other family-friendly events. In 2006, a Michigan state proclamation named Oscoda as the official birthplace of Paul Bunyan.
US-23 (east side) in front of Furtaw Field, Oscoda
Schoolcraft County Chamber of Commerce, Manistique – This Paul Bunyan statue welcomes visitors to Manistique in the Upper Peninsula. It was constructed in the 1970s and stands about 15 feet tall. This is an easy and worthwhile stop if you’re heading to Big Spring Kitch-iti-kipi at Palms Book State Park.
1000 W. Lakeshore Dr. (US-2), Manistique
Castle Rock, St. Ignace – A well-known tourist stop just north of St. Ignace, Castle Rock is a 200 foot tall limestone stack left behind after glacial recession. A man-made ramp leads to the top and great views of Mackinac Island, the Mackinac Bridge, Lake Huron and more. Three things make this Bunyan unique on the list – it’s the only one you’ll have to pay ($1) to get up close to, and it’s the only one that is fenced off to prevent climbing or good photo opportunities. It’s also the only statue on this list that features a sitting Bunyan, and one of the two that also features Babe the Blue Ox.
Castle Rock Rd., St. Ignace – Exit 348 from I-75