Explore the Lore of Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway

Yup, this is a pretty popular place!

Has been for about 15,000 years. Back then, this land was brand new, and folks just had to come and explore it. Paleo-indian bands camped right here. Their stone tools and bowls were hewn of rock from what’s now Illinois, so they were comin’ North.

You know how they got here? Up the rivers. Across the lakes. Winter, summer... countless generations of people traveled these waters.

Around 250 years ago, the Voyageurs came up the rivers to trap for furs. They needed tradin’ posts. To build a tradin’ post, you need logs. And when it comes to gettin’ logs... I’m your man! This very spot is where I had my biggest lumber camp. Why, we had over a thousand fellers here, all top notch lumberjacks. 

Say, you wanna hear how that dam in Crosslake got built? Well one sunny day, Babe was wadin’ in the river right over there. He spotted a big bunch of lily pads, and he plunged his nose down into the water to munch ‘em up. Well guess what. His horns sank right into both riverbanks, and ol’ Babe was stuck like a duck in the muck!

But here’s the amazin’est part. Because Babe’s nose was so big, it stopped the river! We couldn’t believe it! Johnny Inkslinger— who has a knack for good ideas— hollered out, “Well ain’t that a dam site!” We all got to work, and faster than you can say Chief BugOnayGeShig, we had a brand new log dam. Which was good news for Babe, since he was turnin’ even bluer from holdin’ his breath the whole time!

About 125 years ago, the Army Corps of Engineers built the modern dam you see today, and even had a full time Dam Tender who lived right here. It was his job to control the amount of the water flowing downstream, in order to maintain reliable navigation levels on the Mississippi, way down in St. Paul.

So are you campin’ or just wanderin’ through today? Either way, you’re following the footsteps of a whole big bunch of folks. They all seemed to like it here. Hope you do too.

See you on the Byway, and we’ll Explore the Lore some more!