Four L Bunyan

Tales contributed by readers. "Paul Bunyan."
Four L Bulletin March 1922: 27; April 1922: 36; May 1922: 34-35.

Artist Unknown

Paul Bunyan

Paul Bunyan is the epic figure of the lumber camp, the greatest logger that ever lived. He had a broadaxe that was sixteen feet wide and in the old days when he used to get out squared timbers for the British trade he would square a log with four cuts. He used to go through the woods that way, squaring them off and then when he got them all standing clean and white, he'd take his other axe-the one on the wove-rope handle-and swing it around his head and cut them down all around him in a radius of a third of a mile, and then he'd float 'em down the river, side by side and end for end, a raft fourteen miles long. His methods have improved ever since. He logged off all North Dakota in one winter-the winter of the blue Snow. At present he is carrying on a logging business in Alaska, much of the carrying work being done by airplane.

Paul Bunyan is the man who dug the Mississippi river and built the Rocky mountains and made the Grand canyon and excavated Puget Sound and did almost everything else that's been worth doing in this country.

Stories about Paul Bunyan have been told in the camps for years and the stories must be legion, but it is only within the past few years that anything has been known of them outside. They are good stories and they are worth keeping. The Bulletin invites anyone who knows a good Paul Bunyan story to send it in. Let's all tell yarns. There must be some good Northwest stories about Paul. Send them in if you have any. Here are two to start us off:

Paul Bunyan was born in Maine. When three weeks old he rolled around so much in his sleep that he destroyed four square miles of standing timber. Then they built a floating cradle for him and anchored it off Eastport. When Paul rocked in his cradle it caused a seventy-five-foot tide in the Bay of Fundy, and several villages were washed away. It was soon seen that if this kept up Nova Scotia would become an island, and Paul's parents were ordered to take him away. He couldn't be wakened however, until the British navy was called out and fired broadsides for several hours. When Paul stepped out of his cradle he sank seven warships and the British government seized his cradle and used the timber to build seven more. That saved Nova Scotia from becoming an island, but the tides in the Bay of Fundy haven't subsided yet.

Paul was hunting a buck one day with his dog Elmer. They hunted all over Michigan and Wisconsin, but finally toward evening they succeeded in bringing down the buck. Elmer, however, finally died of heart-failure from the exertion. Now Paul had the two carcasses on his hands, the buck carcass and the dog carcass, and he didn't know what to do with all the meat. But then Mr. Armour came up from Chicago and bought the buck carcass for $1,000,000 and the dog for $1,000. That was the beginning of the Armour meat-packing business.

Come on, now-what is your best one?

Paul Bunyan's appearance in the Bulletin last month started Art Connaher, down in St. Helens, remembering that he used to know an old "timber wolf" back on the Wisconsin river, whose grandfather knew Paul intimately.

"We used to buy 'suds' for 'Paddy the Pig,' as this was the only name he ever went by, till we had him wound up," says Connaher. "Then he would relate strange deeds of Paul and 'Babe,' the blue ox.

"However, Paul did not log to any great extent. He cut all the gopher-wood in Dakota in one winter and the big Swede 'Ole' drove the stumps down with a maul, and 'Babe,' the blue ox, ate the brush. Paul never did anything on a cheap scale. His bunk-house covered a 40-acre tract, and he had two four-line Clyde skidders to haul the hot cakes to the table and a soup flume four feet wide. The crew ate dinner out in the woods, and as Paul could not get coffee-tanks large enough, he boiled the java in a lake. The following spring he took a contract to drive the 'Wisconse' river, but somehow he got mixed up and took out the Wolf river drive instead. He had to drive it back up again, but, as Kipling says, that is another story."

Charles O. Olsen, lately wed, nevertheless couldn't help remembering what happened when Paul went broke logging the Palouse country:

"He saved the ox from the sheriff's sale and drove him down the banks of the Columbia looking for a new contract, letting him graze by the way, to save money on a fodder bill. The ox used to roam all over the woods, while Paul slept, grazing here and there.

"One night the ox disappeared. Paul looked high and low, but failed to find any trace of him. For three days he searched, but found nothing to give him a clew to Babe's disappearance. Finally he gave it up, thinking that perhaps the ox had wandered back to Michigan, when he was attracted by a rumbling noise coming from a hollow tree which was lying in the forest not far away.

"He went up to the hollow butt, went inside, and for two days he wandered along the main trunk; on the third day he saw the ox up in a hollow limb, wedged in so he could neither go backward nor forward; Paul could not help him get free from the inside, although he grabbed him by the tail and gave a mighty pull. So he went back the way he came; once back on the outside he located the limb that held the ox, and he took his ax, which he always carried, and started to hew off the limb. It took him a week to do the job, and the ox was almost starved when he got him out; he was so weak that he could hardly stand, but after a complete rest of a few days he was able to travel again. Soon Paul got a contract for clearing the Willamette valley of stumps, and he made money on this job."

"I read in the Four L Bulletin that my old friend, Paul Bunyan, is in Alaska. I am wishing him good luck," writes "Big Jim," from Emmett, Idaho. "Paul built a sawmill down in Mexico that was seven stories high and had seven carriages, and they all ran on one band. It took 200 men on the green chains to take care of the lumber. He put the logs on the decks with the blue ox."

When did you run across Paul Bunyan, or hear of somebody who knew him? Write to the Bulletin about it.

In the last issue Art Connaher wrote from St. Helens about Paul's logging operations in Dakota-how he cleared up the country in one winter and drove the stumps into the ground. "If anyone doubts this story," says Connaher, "let him go to Dakota and see how many stumps he can find.

"Paul was a bear as a logger but he fell down badly as a river man. According to my informant, 'Paddy the Pig,' Paul's next venture was to take out a log drive on the Wisconsin for De Soto. This drive consisted of 1,000,000,000 feet of Norway pine which De Soto wanted delivered at the Mississippi delta and which was to be used for building the Florida keys. Now Paul did not know the country very well so he got mixed up and landed his crew at the head of the Wolf river, where the Menominee Indians had banked 100,000,000 feet of basket timber. Paul took that drive 150 miles to Lake Winnebago, and when he found out it was an 'Injun' drive he was so sore that he turned around and started back up river with a hundred million feet of logs. When he got to Keshena Falls, his men all quit except Big Ole and Baptiste Deau, so he sent Ole back to the farm for 'Babe,' the blue ox. Then he got two long skids and the big swamp hook and put the blue ox in the 'cross-haul,' and they 'decked' that hundred million feet up over the falls. Paul lost so much money that spring that he had to mortgage the big farm, but the farm was so big that when the mortgage was due on one side it wasn't due on the other side, and so could not be foreclosed."

John Gilman, of Portland, cruises timber in the west coast woods, but years ago, back in Michigan, he was a daring logger, and he knew Paul Bunyan and his great rival, Bateese Deau. One time in Michigan, says Gilman, Paul was logging in the square timber, and cleared a patch in which to grow rutabagas for Babe, to make his hair slick. They started plowing, and pretty soon came to a stump that had been overlooked. Babe was going so fast he couldn't stop, so he drove right through, with Paul hanging on behind, and as Paul passed the stump his coat-tail caught on it and pulled it out.

When Paul Bunyan was with the Puget Construction company and old man Elliott and Mr. Rainier on the contract to dig Puget Sound, the city council of Bellingham sent in to the company and asked them if they couldn't have Paul come up and make a bay for them so the ships from Alaska could get nearer land than they had before. They were willing to pay for it, and Paul went up with the blue ox to dig it for them. But when he got there he found that the land where he wanted to make the bay was held by an old homesteader by the name of Baker, who refused to give it up. Paul offered to pay him three times as much as the farm was worth, but the old man was stubborn and would not give it up anyway. Well, Paul tried several times to argue with him and talked himself blue in the face nearly, and even hired a lawyer who could talk both backwards and forwards, but still the old man wouldn't give in. By that time Paul was getting pretty mad and he went down to see the old man again and they had a row that time.

When Paul dug out the bay he threw the dirt up into a big pile on the other side of the city. It didn't take him long to finish the job.

A couple of months later, after old man Baker had got out of the hospital, Paul met him on the street one day.

"There's your farm," says Paul. "It's all there, I guess. You can name it for yourself if you want to."

And that's how Mount Baker happens to be Mount Baker.

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