Babe, the big blue ox constituted Paul Bunyan's assets and liabilities. History disagrees as to when, where and how Paul first acquired this bovine locomotive but his subsequent record is reliably established.
Babe could pull anything that had two ends to it. Babe was seven axehandles wide between the eyes, according to some authorities.
How else could Paul have hauled logs to the landing a whole section (640 acres) at a time? He also used Babe to pull the kinks out of the crooked logging roads and it was on a job of this kind that Babe pulled a chain of three- inch links out into a straight bar.
They could never keep Babe more than one night at a camp for he would eat in one day all the feed one crew could tote to camp in a year. For a snack between meals he would eat fifty bales of hay, wire and all and six men with picaroons were kept busy picking the wire out of his teeth.
Babe was a great pet and very docile as a general thing but he seemed to have a sense of humor and frequently got into mischief, He would sneak up behind a drive and drink all the water out of the river, leaving the logs high and dry.
It was impossible to build an ox- sling big enough to hoist Babe off the ground for shoeing, but after they logged off Dakota there was room for Babe to lie down for this operation.
Once in a while Babe would run away and be gone all day roaming all over the Northwestern country. His tracks were so far apart that it was impossible to follow him and so deep that a man falling into one could only be hauled out with difficulty and a long rope. Once a settler and his wife and baby fell into one of these tracks and the son got out when he was fifty seven years old and reported the accident.
These tracks, today form the thousands of lakes in the "Land of the Sky- Blue Water."
The buckskin harness used on Babe when the weather was rainy was made by Brimstone Bill. When this harness got wet it would stretch so much that the oxen could travel clear to the landing and the load would not move from the skidway in the woods. Brimstone would fasten the harness with an anchor Big Ole made for him and when the sun came out and the harness shrunk the load would be pulled to the landing while Bill and the oxen were busy at some other job.
Big Ole was the Blacksmith at Paul's headquarters camp on the Big Onion. Ole had a cranky disposition but he was a skilled workman. No job in iron or steel was too big or too difficult for him. One of the cooks used to make doughnuts and have Ole punch the holes. He made the griddle on which Big Joe cast his pancakes and the dinner horn that blew down ten acres of pine.
Ole was the only man who could shoe Babe. Every time he made a set of shoes for Babe they had to open up another Minnesota iron mine. Ole once carried a pair of these shoes a mile and sunk knee deep into solid rock at every step. Babe cast a shoe while making a hard pull one day, and it was hurled for a mile and tore down forty acres of pine .
The winter of the Blue Snow, the Pacific Ocean froze over and Paul kept the blue ox busy hauling regular white snow over from China.