day 51
lake itasca, minnesota

"As you get further south of the Mason Dixon line, you're
kinda scraping the bottom of the evolutionary barrel."
- Waitress, Woodsman Cafe.
home...   map...   photos...   contact us...     giftshop!
The Mississippi:
Length: 2552 miles
Height at Mouth: 1475 feet
Discharge: 619,220 ft/sec
Drainage: 1.2 million sq.mi.

Claim to Fame: The Mississippi is America's greatest river system. American Indians have used the river for its life-giving qualities since as early as 9000 years ago. As a highway for easy access deep into the heart of the continent, the Mississippi brought explorers into contact with the resources of the land and its native inhabitants. It's also very fun to spell.

Motel of the Day
Top Five Rivers of the World, by Length:
1. Nile
2. Amazon
3. Mississippi/Missouri
4. Yangtze
5. Yellow
Top Five Rivers of the World, by Drainage Area:
1. Amazon
2. Congo
3. Nile
4. Mississippi
5. Panama
Top Five Rivers of the World, by Volume:
1. Amazon
2. Congo
3. Ganges
4. Yangtze
5. Yemisey
(Mississippi is #6)

Everything's Big In Bemidji
Oct 16 - We were originally going to write something funny about Paul Bunyan and his blue ox Babe, but then we picked up a pamphlet of Bunyan History at the tourist center and that was more than funny enough! Enjoy...

Old-time loggers recall the excitement of Paul's birth when it took five giant storks, working in relays, to deliver Paul to his parents. And what a baby he was! His lungs were so strong that he could empty a whole pond full of frogs with one holler when he was hungry. It took a whole herd of cows to keep his milk bottle filled and he could eat forty bowls of porridge just to whet his appetite.

The Year of the Two Winters
One winter the snow was so deep (how deep was it?) that Paul had to dig down to find the trees. It was so cold that the boiling coffee froze so fast it was still hot when frozen. That's cold!

The loggers let their beards grow full length and soon had to tuck them in their boots to keep from tripping. In the spring, Paul cut the beards with a large scythe, stacked them like hay, and sold them for making mattresses. That's cold!

It was so cold that winter that their words froze in mid-air. When the spring thaw came, there was a huge roar of conversation that was heard 600 miles away in Chicago! That's cold!
Paul cut his teeth on a peavey pole and he grew so fast that one week after his birth he had to wear his father's clothes. A lumber wagon drawn by a team of oxen was Paul's baby carriage, and by the time Paul was one year old his clothing was so large he had to use wagon wheels for buttons. Only the great outdoors was big enough to accommodate Paul, so it was natural that he became the World's Greatest Lumberjack.

On his first birthday, Paul's father gave him a pet blue ox, which Paul named Babe. Like Paul, Babe grew fast and soon was seven-axe-handles and a plug-of-tobacco wide between the eyes. For a between meals snack, Babe would eat thirty bales of hay, wire and all, and it took six men with picaroons to pick the wire out of his teeth.

Babe hauled the huge camp tank wagon, which was used to pave the winter logging roads with ice. When it sprung a leak one day it created Lake Itasca, south of Bemidji, and the overflow trickled dorn to New Orleans forming the Mississippi River. And since Babe refused to haul logs unless there was snow on the ground, Pail had to whitewash the roads in the summer.

Paul and Babe were a good team and no feat of strength or courage was beyond them. No obstacles ever stumped them. Paul could cut down acres of timber single-handed in just a few minutes by tying his huge ax to the end of a long rope and swinging it in circles. Babe could haul logs away as fast as Paul could cut them.

Paul's logging crew was made up of giants too, but none as big or as strong as the "King of the Lumberjacks". Nevertheless, his loggers were all over six feet sitting down, and they sharpened their axes by holding them against huge stones rolling down a hill.

Paul wandered far from Bemidji at times and when his crew logged off North and South Dakota there was a problem of what to do with the stumps. Paul solved the problem by having Big Ole make a two-ton maul with which Paul pounded the stumps into the ground - this is why there are so few trees in the Dakota's today. When Babe died he was buried in South Dakota, his burial mound forming what is now known as the Black Hills.

But Paul Bunyan, King of the Lumberjacks, lives on. And each year he returns to Bemidji to fish and play in the hundreds of lakes in his birthplace. For those who miss his annual visit, a huge statue of Paul - eighteen feet tall and weighing 2 1/2 tons, stands on the shores of beautiful Lake Bemidji. And next to Paul stands a statue of Babe, the Blue Ox - all five tons of the mightiest ox that ever lived.

And, as with any great hero, Paul had his share of sidekicks...

Sourdough Sam
Sam was the camp cook. He made flapjacks on a griddle so big it had to be greased by skaters with slabs of bacon tied to their feet. Once, when a load of pork and beans pulled by a team of owen went through the ice of Lake Bemidji, Sam had huge fires built along the shores and boiled the lake to make soup. All that winter he fed the loggers bean soup with an ox-tail flavor.
Johnny Inkslinger
The Camp's bookkeeper. He invented the fountain pen by running a hose from a barrel of ink to his pen. He saved five barrels of ink one summer by not dotting his "i's" or crossing his "t's".
Big Ole
The camp blacksmith. He was the only man besides Paul who was strong enough to make shoes for Babe. In his spare time, Big Ole was kept busy punching holes in doughnuts that were so big two men could only carry three of them on a long pole.
Shot Gunderson
The giant camp foreman. he once dropped logs into a lake without an outlet and had to empty the tankwagon to float the logs overland to New Orleans.
Chris Crosshaul
The straw boss. He once sent the wrong logs to New Orleans. Paul brought them back to Bemidji by having Babe take a huge gulp from the waters of the Mississippi and reverse the current.
Sport, the Reversible Dog
One of the loggers accidentally cut this camp pet in two with an axe. In his haste to sew him up the logger stiched Sport's hindquarters on upside down. But this didn't hinder Sport who ran on this front legs until they were tired; then flipped over and ran on his back legs. Sports diet consisted mainly of door-to-door salesmen and Internal Revenue agents who visited the camp.

thinking big...

BK Big Fish

The Big Teepee

A Big Howdoyado

Big Deal
more photos in the archive...

We've got mail...

So sorry to not have met you when you visited Paul Bunyan and Babe. Your traveling card was put to use - I looked at your site. (I work for the Visitors & Convention Bureau here at the Tourist Information Center) Ahhh , the memories.... My husband and myself did a mini version of what I think you are doing. In 1978 we took my husbands last paycheck ($500), loaded up our 1968 "conversion" van (I use the term loosely) and left Michigan (25 miles from Frankenmueth! Hope you had some of the fried chicken at the Bavarian Inn) for the east coast. We left the end of June and had a great time until the end of August. Sleeping in rest areas and campgrds, etc. Splulrged the bulk of our $ on a deep sea fishing excursion off Cape Cod. We came home to Minnesota with great memories.

Am curious to know if you have some kind of a route planned or are you just "following your noses"? Best wishes for a continued great time. I enjoy your perspective on our great country and that it is the little things that often make things great!
- Cindy, Bemidji MN

Drop us a note!

Current Location
(get out your push pins)

Lake Itasca, MN

Next Stop: Spamtown USA!

see the full map...

Today's Weather:
Absolutely Lovely!

Daily Stats

Which is Mightier?
Height of Paul:18 ft.
Weight of Paul:2.2 tons
Height of Twine:11 ft.
Wt. of Twine:11 tons

Sleeping Quarters
Rice Lake State Park

Site B10. The little tree next to the little tent in our map guide said there'd be campground facilities. The stupid bathrooms and showers were closed for the stupid season. Looks like one more night without a shower. By the way, that's a picture of frost on our tent.

Cost: $12.00

In the Car
Had:Persians! (2 each)
Woodsman Cafe
Remer, MN
K's Order:Eggs over easy, Toast
A's Order:Coffee

It has been 6 days since our last shower.
© 2001. Kevin Beimers and Aimee Lingman. Go the extra mile. It's never crowded.