Lumberjacks of 66Flagstaff, AZ and Albuquerque, NM

Route 66 sketch by Chandler O'Leary

This post is part of an ongoing series called 66 Fridays, which explores the wonders of old Route 66. Click on the preceding “66 Fridays” link to view all posts in the series, or visit the initial overview post here.

Since Route 66 passes through the Great Plains and the Desert Southwest, and not at all through the North Woods, it’s not a highway that brings thoughts of Paul Bunyan to mind. Yet there are a handful of Pauls along the Mother Road, if you know where to look.

The most well-known can be found in Flagstaff (where logging actually does happen): a trio (including a set of identical-twin Muffler Men) of big brothers in matching outfits. The guy on the left of the above sketch is hand-hewn out of wood, fittingly, but to me the most interesting specimen is the one on the right half of that spread. That Muffler Man happens to be, rumor has it, the very first one ever rolled off the assembly line. Today the aforementioned wooden statue stands in his place on Route 66, and the Muffler Man now stands near his twin on the Northern Arizona University campus.

Route 66 sketch by Chandler O'Leary

The other Paul Bunyan is an oddity, indeed. He stands high above Central Avenue (the more modern alignment of 66) in Albuquerque, keeping watch beside what is now a Vietnamese Cafe. Sadly, this Paul has recently been rendered limbless…but it’s not like he needed to do a lot of logging in Albuquerque anyway.

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