Help rebuild Manistique’s Paul Bunyan

MANISTIQUE – Manistique (Epsport) was founded in 1860, while development of the area did not begin until the latter part of the 1800s. With the eastern United States timber gone, Manistique was discovered and shortly afterwards the timber boom began. Manistique became a boomtown, and during its peak, local population grew to a sweeping 10,000. During this era Manistique comprised mostly of sawmills, while spurring other industries and supporting merchants and services.

The abundance of jobs brought many lumberjacks and their families to Schoolcraft County. Local legends have it that one lumberjack stood out among the rest. His name was Paul Bunyan who was the biggest, strongest, toughest lumberjack who ever picked up an axe.

All that have claimed to have known the legendary lumberjack said big Paul chop down trees by the acre, and could cut down rows of trees with one mighty swing of his axe.

When we think of Paul Bunyan, we think of might, the willingness to work hard, and the resolve to over come obstacles. Our small waterway community embodies the vitality of Paul Bunyan, while we further resolve that Paul Bunyan help build Manistique, and is the home to the legendary lumberjack. The strength and perseverance of our pioneer relatives clearly shows they endured much through our local history with a massive fire in 1893, high mortality rates due to sickness, and of course the devastating flood of 1920.

In 1960 the Manistique community celebrated its centennial, while recognizing the incredible accomplishments of our own that has gone before us.

In celebration they built the iconic Paul Bunyan who stood 45 feet tall, 14 feet wide, and was constructed of plywood at the corner of Deer Street and Chippewa Avenue. During that time U.S. 2 ran through Manistique and Big Paul stood proud while tourists marveled time and time again as they passed through. In 1975 a terrible wind storm blew down the wooden statue of Paul Bunyan, and unfortunately it was never replaced.

In 2010 our community came together and celebrated our sesquicentennial anniversary of the founding of Manistique. What seemed more like a huge family reunion, many our family members who moved away came home and joined us in the many planned celebrations. During the City Ceremony celebration a common theme rapidly developed with the many who attended, “let’s bring Big Paul back”. A hat was soon passed, and the fund-raising efforts began. Today, these efforts continue and the Paul Bunyan Committee deserves our continued support and praise. Putting Big Paul back at its original site will serve us well by recognizing our ancestors who built our town, while offering a big warm Manistique welcome to all our visiting friends, and ultimately bringing much-needed revenue to our tourism based industry.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: According to Manistique resident Paul Walker contributions to the Paul Bunyan Project can be made at Manistique City Hall or any bank in the Manistique area.