Shortly after International Fiberglass purchased Bob Prewitt’s molds, they realized the Paul Bunyan statue was a good seller. The giant could be configured into a few different kinds of giants, and it wasn’t long before they were selling cowboys, Indians, half wits (snerds), and pirate versions of the giant. However, the Paul Bunyan remained the most popular during the 10 years that I.F. was in business. Today, more of these versions can be found then any other.
International Fiberglass sold dozens of the Paul Bunyan Muffler Man in the early 60s, one such Lumberjack was ordered in 1963. It is not known who ordered him, but we do know he was
ordered in connection with the 1964 Worlds Fair, in Flushing Meadows, NY. He was delivered to the North East corner of the fair, during construction of the Oregon Pavilion, on the banks of the Flushing River. The Oregon Pavilion highlighted the timbering industry, and featured climbing, chopping, logrolling and double bladed axe throwing. Spars of Douglas fir trees up to 120 feet long were set on the bank of the river, and used for many of the shows the pavilion put on. The surrounding bleachers seated 1, 250, and admission was $1.00 for adults and 75 cents for kids. Nearby was a display of Oregon industries, and a souvenir shop.
The giant lumberjack was set up in front of the pavilion next to the gift shop, and he was a perfect fit for the timber theme. Sometime during the course of the fair, the giant lost his axe and a replacement was ordered. Pictures taken during the fair show the giant with his axe, and at other times without one. A little known fact is that a large fiberglass bear was also ordered from international fiberglass, and stood just a few feet in front of him, on the other side of the gift shop.
The Lumberjack faced the large blue and white Simmons Building. On the first floor, five displays followed man’s progress from rock pillow to comfortable mattress in his effort to obtain a good night’s sleep. On the buildings upper floors visitors could rent for one dollar a private rest alcove on a half hour basis. The view from these alcoves overlooked the lumberjack Muffler Man and the Oregon Pavilion behind him. Also not far away stood Mastro Pizza, the Hall of Education, and the famous Fountain of the Planets.
At the end of the New York Worlds Fair in 1965 there was a mass exodus of buildings and attractions. Many of the giant figures at the fair, such as dinosaurs and a huge Viking, all had to find new homes. The Lumberjack was no exception and somehow Harry Horn of Lake George, became aware that he was for sale. Harry, who had recently opened “Around the World Mini Golf” in Lake George, was looking for large figures and attractions to improve his new mini golf course. He arrived in Flushing Meadows to pick up the giant after
paying about $1,600 for him. In his later years, Harry reminisced how he arrived there, only to realize that no one was going to help him load the giant. He had to sit there for a bit, and strategize how he was going to get the Paul Bunyan home. Thankfully the lumberjack was in two pieces, and somehow Harry managed to haul the giant to Lake George.
Harry’s children remember the arrival of the Paul Bunyan, and after
it was unloaded in the backyard of the family home, they promptly climbed inside the large fiberglass head. It wasn’t long before the giant was reassembled and set up at the mini golf course. He has now stood there for 50 years, and everyone in the area knows about the Paul Bunyan. He has been repainted a few times over the years, and even survived flooding from hurricane Irene. Sadly Harry passed away last year at the age of 91 after a very impressive and full life. We can thank him for saving the NY Worlds Fair Muffler Man and taking such good care of it for the last 50 years.
I had the privilege of visiting the Muffler Man in July 2012 and found him in remarkably good condition. He stands next to a sign that lets visitors know that he once stood at the 1964 New York Fair and he could possibly be the most visited Bunyan of them all!
Special thanks to Terri Horn for the background information and family pictures of her Dad. Also a special thank you to Bill Cotter of www.worldsfairphotos.com for the use of his Worlds Fair pictures he took of the lumberjack when he was a child.
Great story , keep em coming.