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Babe the Blue Ox gets fed highway funding

March 14, 2006 at 3:00 PM

BEMIDJI, Minn., March 14 (UPI) -- Babe, Paul Bunyan's blue ox companion, a concrete statue built in 1937 by the Bemidji, Minn., Rotary Club, will be getting $100,000 worth of repairs.

Bunyan and Babe have been featured twice in Life magazine. Kodak has said they're the second-most-photographed statues in the United States, right behind Mount Rushmore in South Dakota.

Babe developed a one-inch-wide crack from the neck to the hindquarters that city officials have annually fixed with caulking and blue paint, but the crack continued to widen, reported the Grand Forks Herald.

The Rotary Club raised more than $53,000 and then reached its $100,000 goal with a $68,000 federal grant. Most of the funds will be used to stabilize the ground underneath the statue, which shifts with freezing temperatures.

"Paul and Babe are icons for our community," said Warren Larson, head of the Rotary's Save Babe Committee. "Whether it's a regional or national story that comes out of Bemidji, like our Olympic curlers, the story leads with Paul and Babe."

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