BEMIDJI, Minn. — Police are now investigating after Bemidji’s landmark Paul Bunyan statue was found with a broken arm earlier this week.
Activity related to the damage is under investigation by the police department, which has reviewed security footage of the downtown area revealing that the breakage appears to have been caused by several people climbing and hanging on the statue’s arm and adjacent sign.
The damage was discovered Monday. The statue’s right arm had separated from the concrete body. Rebar running down the arm kept it from breaking off entirely.
Parks and recreation crews have secured the statues of the mythical north woods lumberjack and his blue ox, Babe.
Earlier this spring, the city hired a conservation firm to assess both statues, but their schedule has been moved up, with work set to begin next week on examining the damage and making repairs. Following the arm’s reconstruction, additional maintenance will take place on both statues.
To help the city with the restoration costs, some Bemidji residents have been organizing fundraisers.
The 18-foot Paul Bunyan statue has been downtown, near the shore of Lake Bemidji, since 1937. Babe the Blue Ox was erected around the same time.
The statues are now on the National Register of Historic Places and earned a spot on National Geographic’s Top 10 U.S. Roadside Attractions as well as Time magazine’s Top 50 American Roadside Attractions.
Anyone with information about the recent damage can report details anonymously through Crime Stoppers of Minnesota at crimestoppersmn.org or by calling 800-222-8477.