Monday, August 13, 2012

A Big Minnesota Welcome

(Big Ole, Alexandria, MN, photo copyright 2012, Jane Heitman Healy)

On a vacation to Minnesota this summer, we were heartily welcomed wherever we went, but never more warmly than by the two big guys in Alexandria and Bemidji.

Big Ole, above, spearheads visits by watching over a small park on Lake Agnes' banks and keeping track of Broadway traffic. Born in 1965, he stood as mascot to the Minnesota Pavilion at the New York World's Fair. Big Ole's shield informs us that Alexandria is the birthplace of America. Not what you learned in history class? Me, either, but if you visit Alexandria's Runestone Museum, you may become a believer.

The highlight of the museum is the Kensington Runestone, unearthed by a farmer in rural Alexandria in the 1898. It has been dated back to 1362. The real question is, how did it get there? Did Viking explorers "plant" it? Did they settle in the area for awhile and carve it then? Were they merely passing through? The museum presents evidence to help visitors decide. The gift shop carries many books about the runestone and Vikings in general.

(Kensington Runestone, Alexandria, MN, photo copyright 2012, Jane Heitman Healy)

Paul Bunyan and his blue ox, Babe, greet visitors in Bemidji. Paul Bunyan is a lumberjack of tall tale fame. Paul and Babe are faster and stronger than anyone else! Read more about them at

(Paul Bunyan and Babe, Bemidji, photo copyright 2012, Jane Heitman Healy)

Paul and Babe, created for a Winter Carnival, are enjoying their 75th birthdays this year. These senior citizens were placed on the National Registry of Historic Places in 1988. If you want to celebrate Paul and Babe, wear plaid on Wednesdays this year like the folks of Bemidji.

What big welcomes have you encountered this summer?


  1. What lovely photos! It seems you had a great vacation in Minnesota to meet big heros. Very interesting for me. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Thanks, beagleAnnie. For some reason, tourists love BIG statues like this and must have their pictures taken with them!

  3. Fascinating! Wonderful photos and intriguing information.

  4. Thanks for the comments, bluerabbit. I see now that we did not get the top of Big Ole's spear, but you get the idea. :)

  5. So cool, Jane!

    We lived in Kelliher, MN, when I was little, and about once a month we'd drive to Bemidji for our big shopping trip. I loved Paul and Babe, and they made a big impression on this 5-yr-old! Paul's "grave" is in the Kelliher park. We'd have school picnics there and play king of the hill on his grave!


  6. Hi, Debbie, thanks for teaching me more about Paul Bunyan! Will have to look up his grave one of these trips. I hope you have shared his tales with your kids. Fun times!