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The Earliest Paul Bunyan Stories

Legends of Paul Bunyan, Lumberjack (1916)

Before Paul Bunyan had been expanded into a national symbol or reduced to a character in children's books, he was the hero of folktales told in Wisconsin logging camps. The Bunyan stories began in the Great Lakes states, and between 1885 and 1915 lumberjacks from New England to Oregon told many tales of his exploits. This article by Univ. of Wisconsin undergraduate Bernice Stewart and her English professor, Homer Watt, prints the stories they collected directly from loggers between 1914 and 1916. It is still regarded as the earliest and most authentic account of the Bunyan legends because it preserved them in their original form, directly from lumberjacks, before advertisers and publishers had embellished them. More information is available on our Paul Bunyan page.

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Related Topics: Mining, Logging, and Agriculture
Logging and Forest Products
Creator: Stewart, K. Bernice, and Homer A. Watt.
Pub Data: Transactions of the Wisconsin Academy of Arts, Sciences, and Letters (1916: 639-651). Digital edition included in the State of Wisconsin Collection, Univ. of Wisconsin Digital Collections.
Citation: Stewart, K. Bernice, and Homer A. Watt. "Legends of Paul Bunyan, Lumberjack." Transactions of the Wisconsin Academy of Arts, Sciences, and Letters (1916: 639-651); Online facsimile at:
I.WT1916.KBSTEWART&isize=M; Visited on: 4/24/2014
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