The Paul Bunyans
Westwood, CA  •  Viola, CA  •  Klamath, CA  •  Grants Pass, OR  •  Shelton, WA  •  Puyallup, WA  •  Portland, OR

Grants Pass, OR

Beyond the lean and shaggy Grants Pass caveman statue, beyond the IT’S THE CLIMATE arch stretching across Grants Pass’s main street, beyond the gravel yard on the west side of town, are two Paul Bunyan statues. One statue is tied to a light pole and beckons travelers on the Evergreen Highway to the Cedarwood Saloon. The other statue, on the Rogue River Highway, surveys the parking lot at BJ’s Tools.

The Cedarwood Saloon Paul wasn’t always a logger. When Bruce and Tammy Mesman bought the saloon in 1991, the muffler man-style statue was a miner, and blond, to boot. He held a pickaxe, and at his feet was a rusted metal cart full of rocks painted gold. Mesman took him down from his perch (“He isn’t heavy, he probably only weighs a hundred pounds”), hauled him to the beer garden in the back of the Saloon, and gave him a makeover, painting his hair and beard brown and his shirt green.

The Cedarwood Paul has had his share of misfortune. “He’s been hit by the UPS truck, hit by the Forest Service truck, dragged across the driveway, a gal with a camper ran into him, his axe’s spray-foam filling melted onto a car parked below it, he’s been shot by a pellet gun, and his head blew off in a windstorm, landing right in his own arms. That one made the news. I had calls from Chicago, Miami, and New York about it, and my brother tending bar in Bend,” says Bruce.

Today the Cedarwood Paul is mounted on a cement platform and belted securely to a pole that it shares with an Oregon Lottery sign. Not far away is the Wapiti Archery shop, whose owner says that he and the Mesmans have talked about Paul holding a bow and arrow.

Ten minutes from the Cedarwood Saloon is the BJ’s Tools Paul, also a muffler man type, but customized with a chic, low-slung belt and a hard hat. His eyes are painted to look shiftily to the right, perhaps because he has twice been stolen by students from Rogue River High. He is surrounded by ladders and shovels and stands next to a forty-foot saw that appear to be sawing at the roof of the store.

The original B.J. is long gone, and the current staff doesn’t know much about the statue.

“I’ll tell you this,” though, “ says the cashier. “Nine out of ten dogs bark at it.”

backward! onward!