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The speaker is an 82-year-old White man with a college education from Gaylord, Michigan; he was recorded in 1970.
16:15-19:25


County: Otsego
State: MI

Commentary:
Gaylord is in the north central part of Michigan's lower peninsula. The speaker relates a tale of Paul Bunyan, a folk hero of the North Woods, whose adventures ranged from Maine to Oregon, but most of whose tales are from Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. The speaker relates how Paul and his blue ox Babe moved a lake, west of the town of Gaylord.
Inf: Paul Bunyan, who'd been lumbering up on the Ocqueoc River, uh finished his cut, and his next uh, engagement was gonna be in Minnesota. But he, it was still early in the winter, and he didn't wanna go to Minnesota until the spring break-up. So he brought his crew together here, and they stayed in the old Schuyler Hotel. And waiting for the spring break-up. And didn't come, it didn't come. But that was one of the coldest winters known. It was so cold that they couldn't tell how cold it was because the thermometer wouldn't register any more.

But uh Paul was a great fellow for exercise. And every day he'd go down and walk around Otsego Lake before breakfast. And then spend the rest of the day around some of those local taverns. And he heard the farmers out in western Gaylord complaining about the fact they hadda go around Otsego Lake to come together to trade in the summer time. That took 'em several miles out of their way. And they were wondering there wasn't something could be done about it. They considered a bridge or something of that sort, but that was out of the question.

But Paul heard 'em talking, so he went down and looked at Otsego Lake and he found out it was froze solid. So the next day he told those fellows, if they wanted him to, he'd take his men who were gettin' lazy and a little bit unruly, and his blue ox, gettin' too fat, and see what he could do. So they were willing to have anything done that would help them reach Ginnard (?) 'thout going around the lake.

At that time, Otsego Lake reached up uh to where Five Lakes are now, about three miles north of Main Street here. But he went down to the south end of the lake, and they dug a big tunnel under the lake. Big enough for the blue ox. And, when he was ready, he went down there and had the blue ox get into that tunnel, and he slapped him a few times around the rump and told him to get in there. And when he got in there, he said, "Now expand your horns." He had expansion horns. He'd expand his horns a mile and a quarter. And he did that. Now he said, "Hunch up!" And the blue ox hunched up, and the entire lake came right up. Now he said, "Back up slow, very slow." And the blue ox backed up for three miles, he was goin' south. Now he said, "Ease it down. Ease it down, there. Ease the lake down." But the lake uh was a little bit higher than the ground down there at the south end of the lake, so they built a big uh, uh, big dam at the south end o' the lake. Lot of people today call it the, the beaver dam, but it isn't. It's the dam that Paul and his men built to hold the water in. And uh, in moving the lake, a few chunks broke off. And they left 'em there. There's five chunks up there an' they call 'em Five Lakes now. But the road, west of Gaylord, was open, so settlers could come in without drivin' around the lake. If you don't believe this, you can go out and look. You can see where the shoreline of the lake used to be.


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