Who Is Paul Bunyan?
Paul Bunyan is a larger-than-life folk hero who embodies frontier vitality. He is a symbol of might, the willingness to work hard, and the resolve to overcome all obstacles. Paul Bunyan is part of the western tall tale literature, which often populates the landscape with beings of gigantic proportions.
Paul Bunyan and his boon companion Babe the Blue Ox take mosquitos of tremendous proportions, rainstorms that last for months, and natural obstructions like mountains ranges in their stride.
He was popularized by newspapermen across the country in 1910 and has been a part of the American culture ever since.
Paul Bunyan in Shelton.
Paul Bunyan began his life in Shelton in 1957. Owned by the Binger Brothers, who had a chain of gas stations from the Harbor to Tacoma, the 20’ fiberglass statue was used as an advertising gimmick. He was towed from station to station until coming to rest in Shelton at the Binger Brothers’ station on 1st street in 1957.
In the 1960’s, the Binger Brothers went out of business and sold the station to Gull. Paul went along with the sale and remained standing tall in Shelton for over 30 years. When the Gull station closed in 1991 Paul was deeded to the City of Shelton and spent a year “resting” at the wastewater treatment plant.
In 1992, the City agreed to give the statue to The Shelton School District. Paul ended up at the High School on Shelton Springs Road where he proudly stood as a sentinel guard for the Highclimbers. It was during this time that Paul’s ax was taken by students from Tumwater High School and then the windstorm of 1993 toppled the mighty Paul and caused severe damage to his physique.
In 1996, local wood craftsman, Lloyd Prouty, acquired Paul from the School District and set out on a mission with fellow businessmen to restore the giant Paul Bunyan. The generous help and donations from the Mason County Community the funds necessary to not only restore Paul, but to place him on a trailer that hydraulically raised and lowered his vast frame to allow him to negotiate power lines so he could be towed around the region to participate in events, such as parades and even appeared in an AT&T wireless commercial in 2001.
Paul has had a starring role in The Mason County Forest Festival’s “Grand Paul Bunyan Parade” for many years. Anyone who attended the Forest Festival parade during Paul’s reign will never forget watching him do the “limbo” under the power lines on Railroad Avenue at the beginning of the parade.
(The information above was gathered from articles retrieved from the Mason County Museum)