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Laboring in a Fun Way on Labor Day

Published on: August 20, 2019

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Do you think you have what it takes to compete with the likes of Paul Bunyan? Paul’s the mythical lumberjack seen with Babe the Blue Ox, at Trees of Mystery near Klamath, Calif. Some say his larger than life persona came about through the creative works of writer William B. Laughead, who promoted the Red River Lumber Company with imaginative copy in a 1916 brochure.

While the fictional character has resonated throughout the U.S., he takes center stage at festivals and events in California this Labor Day — and beyond. What’s amazing is that attendees at lumberjack festivals opt to compete with burly Bunyan look-alikes for prizes in contests such as logging competition at Paul Bunyan Days in Fort Bragg.

While Labor Day (celebrated on the first Monday in September,) became a federal holiday in 1894 to honor the labor and union movements in the U.S., some celebrants with time on their hands choose to compete in challenging contests ranging from sand sculpting in San Diego to logging in White Pines, Foresthill and Fort Bragg.

Logging became a boom industry in the Sierra Nevadas and along the northern California coast during the gold rush. For several decades afterward forests were mined so much that approx. one-third of the timber in the Sierra Nevada was logged. Concern for the disappearing landscape helped bring about a conservation movement and creation of national parks and state parks systems to manage natural assets.

Thanks to those efforts, people from around the globe come to California to see the world’s biggest and tallest trees — survivors — unlike The Discovery Tree (The Stump) that was chopped down in what’s now Calaveras Big Trees State Park.

 

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