Sometimes on road trips, you have the unique opportunity to connect favorite folk legends with reality. What makes these experiences even better is when you learn something new plus meet an author who is telling the story of your favorite legend to a whole new generation. On our recent Midwest road trip, we were able to take a tour of the Paul Bunyan Logging Camp Museum and meet author Diane Peterson. What a fun day we had learning about the history of the logging industry in Wisconsin while having some fun with the legend of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox!
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Paul Bunyan Logging Camp Museum
The first question we had for museum curator Diane Peterson was the one you are probably asking. Was Paul Bunyan a real person? The stories of Paul Bunyan were probably based on one or two different men who were taller and stronger than the rest of the loggers. The men in the logging camp would spend many winter nights in the camp swapping tales, spinning yarns and creating music. The first stories of Paul and his blue ox named Babe first originated in Northern Wisconsin and quickly took on a life of their own.
A visit to the Paul Bunyan Logging Camp Musuem began because we were curious abot the legend of Paul Bunyan, but we quickly discovered that the logging industry in the late 1800’s was an important part of our growth as a nation.
The loggers would stay in the average logging camps about three months during the winter where they would harvest approximate 4 1/2 million logs each year. Here in the logging camp you can learn about how the loggers lived.
Interesting note: the long bunkbeds in the cabin are original and were brought to the Eau Claire Logging Camp Museum from a former logging camp.
We were all fascinated by some of the lingo used by the cooks! Can you imagine if we ordered our breakfast like this?
I’ll take Morning Glories with black strap and a side of Murphy’s with a cup of Slush! Yep! Sounds like breakfast to me!
Fun fact: Cooks made $1.50 a day but the loggers only made $1.00. Since working conditions in most logging camps were equal, the thing that kept the loggers loyal to one camp was the food! A good cook could make or break the logging camp experience!
There is so much to learn about the logging industry. I never thought about the fact that multiple logging camps would be harvesting logs and using the same river to transport them downstream. They would use brands to identify the different logs and help decide the pay out for each of the loggers.
The Logging Camp Museum has several exhibits inside the main building in addition to a brief movie and full display of Paul Bunyan memorabilia.
Don’t miss the fun room at the end of your tour!
Meet Author Diane Peterson
One of the fun surprises on our visit was the opportunity to meet Author Diane Peterson. Executive Director Diane Peterson saw a need for a children’s book that would tell the story of Paul Bunyan to a new generation. She partnered with Illustrator Dacia Sjolund to publish the book “The Adventures of Paul Bunyan”.
So of course, we had to buy a copy of her book and get her to sign it while we were there!
The museum is closed for the season right now, but this place needs to be on your list of places to visit this coming spring!
Find Paul Bunyan Logging Camp Museum
1110 Half Moon Dr
Eau Claire, WI 54703
The Logging Camp Museum is open to the public from May 1 – September 30.
Looking for more things to do in Wisconsin? Don’t miss the Original Wisconsin Duck tour!