Legend and folklore: Paul Bunyan and his big blue ox Posted by on May 22, 2014 in Culture

Here is another story about an American legend…


Paul Bunyan is America character who is famous in folklore.

The character Paul Bunyan, and stories about who he is, were first told among lumberjacks* in the Northeastern part of the United States and Canada. The first printed story about him was published in the state of Michigan in 1906.

Paul Bunyan’s birth was the first sign of how unusual his life would be.  It is said that it took five storks* to deliver him to his home. He was a very BIG baby. When he was old enough to clap his hands, his clapping shook houses, and his laughing broke windows. Overtime Paul Bunyan grew up to become a lumberjack and one day while out in the woods he met his best friend. This friend would become his constant companion. Paul’s best friend was a big blue ox, that he named Babe.

There are many stories about Paul Bunyan and Babe. But first you should know that Paul is reported to have been bigger, taller and stronger than any man. He is said to have cut down entire forests with a single swing of his axe! Paul and Babe are also reported to have created most of the unique landscape in the United States as they traveled around the country. Paul supposedly dug out the Grand Canyon by dragging his axe behind him while he walked. Paul and Babe are reported to have created the land of 1,000 lakes by walking in the snow and leaving behind footprints, that later turned into lakes. Paul also created the Grand Teton Mountains while playing around with Babe.  He supposedly built Mount Hood by piling rocks on top of his campfire to put it out. Some tales even say Paul made the Great Lakes as a watering hole for Babe.

As I am sure you have figured out, these stories about Paul Bunyan are what we call “tall tales.” They aren’t really true, but they are fun stories.

Now that you have read about Paul Bunyan why not take a look at this set of old Disney cartoons with more tales of Paul and Babe and practice your listening comprehension.

If you have any questions about Paul Bunyan or these videos please ask them below.

* lumberjack = a person who cuts down trees
**storks = a large, long-legged, long-necked bird, often said to deliver babies to people’s homes (this is told to children instead of telling them where babies really come from)

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About the Author: Gabriele

Hi there! I am one of Transparent Language's ESL bloggers. I am a 32-year-old native English speaker who was born and raised in the United States. I am living in Washington, DC now, but I have lived all over the US and also spent many years living and working abroad. I started teaching English as a second language in 2005 after completing a Master's in Applied Linguists and a Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults' (CELTA). Since that time I have taught ESL in the United States at the community college and university level. I have also gone on to pursue my doctorate in psychology and now I also teach courses in psychology. I like to stay connected to ESL learners around the world through Transparent Languages ESL Blog. Please ask questions and leave comments on the blog and I will be sure to answer them.


  1. Edzard Pienaar:

    I am now 69 years old, grew up in South Africa with books of Paul Bunyan . being a dyslexic, I’m happy to say that Paul and Babe are the reason why I’m able to read today. Had a Classic illustrated Junio519 an that’s where it all started. A life long fan of Paul, Babe, Sourdough Sam, Johnny Inkslingef etc. What I’m saying is that Paul Bunyan is’nt a American Fable, it is an international fabel to the children and the elderly of the entire world. Without Paul Bunyan in our hearts, what a poor world this would’ve been.