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The 11,000-square-foot, energy-efficient building features an amphitheater, exhibit space, a gift shop, porch and patio. It will host interpretive programs and community meetings.
The 9,346-acre park has become increasingly popular; about 28,000 people visited in 1986, following the construction of the previous building. In 2012, more than 332,000 visited.
pam louwagie @pamlouwagie
Paul Bunyan statue stands tall in national poll
Bemidji’s iconic Paul Bunyan and Babe statues — fresh from a supporting role in the TV series “Fargo” — placed fourth in a USA Today poll of the nation’s quirkiest landmarks.
“Everyone’s heard the legend of Paul Bunyan and his blue ox, Babe, but only those who visit the town of Bemidji, Minn., enjoy a photo op with the giant duo,” the paper reported after the votes for the country’s Top 10 quirky landmarks were tallied. “Both statues were built in fall of 1937, and Earl Bucklen, the mayor at the time, was used as a model for Paul. Babe’s giant tin horns measure 14 feet from tip to tip, while Paul stands tall at 18 feet.”
Paul and Babe beat out such roadside oddities as North Dakota’s Enchanted Highway, Houston’s Beer Can House and the Freemont Troll in Washington state. Edging it out on the list were Nebraska’s Carhenge and the basket-shaped office building that is home to the Ohio-based Longaberger Baskets. First place went to another oversized gent — the 55-foot-tall Big Tex statue that greets visitors to the Texas State Fair.
Jennifer Brooks @stribrooks