Minnesota’s most famous tall tale lumberman Paul Bunyan is found dotting the landscape in roadside attraction form. There are Bunyan statues in Akeley, Brainerd, Bemidji, and plenty of other towns, as well as his artifacts and representations of his blue ox sidekick, Babe. And in Hackensack, MN, is Paul’s other babe, Lucette Diana Kensack.
Standing 17 feet tall and made of fiberglass, Lucette has watched over the town of Hackensack since 1991. She faces town on the shores of Birch Lake. Her shape is somewhat irregular, as if she is hiding something under her dress. Apparently there was a contest to come up with a name, and a local chose Lucette Diana Kensack. Streetlight banners declare her as Paul Bunyan’s Sweetheart, and originally there was a tiny “Paul Jr.” statue next to her. Although the original Paul Jr. is long gone, there is now a chainsaw-sculpted replacement standing nearby Lucette (below).
The story of Lucette and Paul’s shotgun wedding is something that of course fits right in with the quirkiness of the statues themselves. Apparently not long after the statue of Lucette and Paul Jr. went up, someone complained that they should be married since they had a child, and not living in sin. So shortly thereafter, someone at the Hackensack Chamber of Commerce “found” a marriage license, charred around the edges because of a fire in the building about 100 years ago. According to the certificate, Lucette Kensack and Paul Bunyan were married in Iowa Territory (now Hackensack) on June 9, 1838. They even began selling copies of the license for $2, because, why not?
Hackensack is a pretty little town town on a main highway between Brainerd and Walker near the Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway, and like many small towns it celebrates its roadside attraction by way of a town festival called “Sweetheart Days” in July as well as the Sweetheart Canoe Derby in June. Make sure to stop and pay a visit to Paul Bunyan’s family if you’re ever passing through.
While in the area: Hackensack is only about 10 minutes from the touristy Walker, MN and the gargantuan Leech Lake. It’s also fairly close to Northern Lights Casino, as well as Chippewa National Forest, Foothills State Forest, and the Paul Bunyan Biking Trail.