Someone stole Paul Bunyan’s ax.

Bunyan sans ax/Ryn Gargulinski

Bunyan sans ax/Ryn Gargulinski

We are not sure who or why, but we can bet it was a real ax-hole.

It’s a sad day in Tucson when even an 18-foot, muscular man cannot defend himself. Perhaps we should replace the ax with a gun.

The glorious statue, which has graced the corner of Glenn Street and North Stone Avenue for nearly 50 years, has been without his wood-chopping tool since at least Friday, Nov. 20.

One police theory, according to a report on, is that it was a prank by a fraternity, groups that often share the same intelligence level and mentality as those who blindly drink Kool-Aid.

Other theories include:

The ax is on its way to Mexico, where it will be chopped up and sold for its parts, not unlike most of the cars stolen from Tucson.

The ax is on its way to a tour around the world, where it will be photographed beside various landmarks and the photos sent back to Tucson. This practice has been widely used with Big Boy statues and garden gnomes.

The ax will be held for ransom until someone actually revitalizes downtown.

We are also unsure how the ax was taken, whether by ladder, ropes, pulleys, a cherry picker or helicopter, although we think a helicopter may have chopped off Bunyan’s head in the process.

A 1997 write-up in Tucson Weekly mentioned the ax is, or at least used to be, replaced by a candy cane during the holiday season. Maybe it’s in the midst of being changed over?

The Weekly blurb also said the Bunyan statue has made cameos in several movies, including Pocket Money, Alice Doesn’t Live Here Any More and Easy Rider.

Despite his celebrity status and landmark nature, Bunyan has been thoroughly abused throughout his time in Tucson. He has been shot and set on fire one holiday season while he was dressed in a Santa suit.

Bunyan was also nearly stolen off the flatbed truck when he first arrived in Tucson from California in the 1960s. He was once even dressed, at someone’s request, in a pink tutu.

Bunyan’s ax was also stolen once before in the 1970s, said KPHO, but Tucson was smaller then and it was returned through word-of-mouth.


“The theft of Paul Bunyan’s ax was clearly no axident,” said Tucson police Sgt. Fabian Pacheco. “We have not identified any suspects at this time. However, we are not ruling out fraternities or anyone else with an ax to grind against Mr. Bunyan’s owners.”

Pacheco added the theft most likely took place the night of Nov. 19 or early morning hours of Nov. 20.

He also expressed regret that this theft puts a damper on the prank calls used on rookies to see how they will react to the call of a “Man with an ax” on the corner of Stone and Glenn.

“Somehow a ‘Man with a sugarcane’ does not have the same effect on rookie officers,” Pacheco said. ” So, let’s cut to the chase and find Paul’s ax!”

No task force has been formed – at least not yet.

In happier days before the theft/Ryn Gargulinski

In happier days before the theft/Ryn Gargulinski

Bunyan today/Ryn Gargulinski

Bunyan today/Ryn Gargulinski

wb-logolilWhat’s the dumbest thing you ever stole?

Did you get caught?

What would be fitting punishment for the ax thief?