Bigfoot – The Rockstar of the Cryptids!

” I do not do this bigfooting thing in order to prove or “discover” sasquatches as real animals.  I take the position that bigfoots have already been discovered, and we’re just waiting for the academics to catch up.  (Much like when Columbus supposedly discovered the Americas.  How can one discover what was already known about by thousands of people?)”

– Cliff Barackman of Animal Planet’s Finding Bigfoot from a May 2011 article he wrote on his blog www.northamericanbigfoot.com.

There are many names for Bigfoot…and I find that telling in itself.  From Native American and First Nation tribes all over the United States and Canada, there are names for a creature that has a common description: bipedal, hairy, tall and humanlike. Tak-he, Yeahoh, Wetiko, Windago, Rugaru, Kushtaka, Boq…these are only a handful of the native names for Bigfoot (for a more complete list visit: http://sasquatchresearch.net/sassynames.html. )When the European settlers came to this continent, they created their own names for the same creature: Skookums, Skunk Apes, Fouke Monsters, Wood Devils, etc.

The native tribes of North America have been co-existing with Sasquatches for millennia and they have countless tales in their histories about the creatures, along with other native animals.  There are printed reports of sightings of a large, hairy, bipedal creature appearing in “white man’s” literature at least as far back as 1811. Sightings from a spectrum as wide as Alberta, Canada to Mt. Katahdin in Maine, all the way down to Texas were recorded in newspapers in the 1800’s.

There is a misconception that Bigfoot sightings only started in the 1950’s when a forest road construction crew out in the Bluff Creek area of Northern California reported large equipment like 50 gallon drums and 48″ culverts being tossed around during the night in the remote construction site and huge footprints left in the freshly bulldozed soil. The first widely publicized casts of Bigfoot prints were taken by Gerald Crew in 1958 after he was an object of ridicule for reporting the strange happenings at the road construction. With the casts as physical proof, I’m sure Mr. Crew felt assured that he would be taken seriously.  Unfortunately, only a small percentage of people believed him. And it didn’t help when one of the supervisors associated with the road crew, Ray Wallace, later claimed that he had been responsible for placing the footprints at the site.  He couldn’t explain how he got the footprints impressed so deeply into the soil without leaving additional marks nearby, nor could he adequately explain how he tossed heavy items like 50 gallon drums and culverts over untouched shrubbery and into the creek at the bottom of the rise without leaving any signs of the machinery that would be required for such a feat. But the supervisor sure did like the limelight and the reporters ate up such a neat end to a troubling story. Ray Wallace would pop up throughout the next several decades in order to claim that he was responsible for hoaxing all sorts of Bigfoot evidence, including the famous Patterson Gimlin film.

The Patterson Gimlin film was shot by Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin in October, 1967 in the Bluff Creek area not far from where the footprints  were found by Gerald Crew almost a decade earlier.  (Ray Wallace and his road crew were long gone by then, returned back to Washington state where Wallace lived and maintained his business.) Roger Patterson was shooting film for a movie he was intending to make on the Bigfoot sightings in the area.  Bob Gimlin was a friend of his who was skeptical of the creature and just along for the ride, so to speak.  On horseback, they rounded a bend near the creek and surprised a female Sasquatch across the creek by the water’s edge. As soon as she saw them, she left the area quickly and melted into the dark forest.  Patterson was able to get over a minute of film and also took casts of footprints that were left. Some of the film was fairly steady, but much of it was shaky due to Mr. Patterson’s horse being spooked and his following the creature to get a better shot. The best part of the film shows the subject turning to look back at the men. Not only is her face visible, but her breasts are as well.  If someone were to fake a sighting of a Bigfoot, why go to the extra trouble of obtaining or manufacturing a “gorilla suit” complete with breasts? The breasts are not rigid, but flexible, as you can see from their movement during her walk.  Scientists turned their noses up at the film; most declared it a fake without even taking the time to watch the film. Critics wrote (and still write) the creature off as a man in a suit, regardless of the fact that the top costume designers of the time were not able to make a “gorilla” costume that would display the same type of muscle movement and anatomical proportions. Modern analysis by interested scientists, designers at Nike (who must be intimately familiar with body mechanics), an executive from the Disney Studios, among others has resulted in some very supportive feedback, but the general scientific community remains aloof.

Happily, there are some very respectable names amongst those in the scientific world who are believers….or at least markedly not naysayers. Jane Goodall actually stated in an interview with NPR in 2002 that she was sure they (Sasquatches) existed. She may have subsequently backed off such a positive statement, but she still is firm that the possibility for their existence is sound. Dr. Grover Krantz, the late professor of physical anthropology at Washington State University, not only believed in the existence of Sasquatch, but wrote books on the matter and spent much of his free time in the field searching for evidence.  Dr. Jeff Meldrum is a professor of Anatomy and Anthropology at Idaho State University and is also an author on the subject. He has also appeared in various documentaries about Sasquatch.

Recently, near London, Oregon there has been a discovery of over one hundred footprints belonging to two individual Sasquatches, one with a seventeen inch print and the other a fifteen inch print, walking along the shoreline of a lake and a nearby logging road. Cliff Barackman, who himself made casts of 72 of the prints, has been chronicling the research on the prints (some of which is being conducted by Dr. Meldrum) on his blog (the address of which is provided in the first paragraph of this article after the opening quote).  It is heartening that evidence of this animal continues to accumulate.

For me, I am a believer.  I cannot discount that so many of the Native American and First Nation tribes have knowledge of such a creature and the fact that their creature has the same behavior and appearance as the animal that is being described today, and has been described for the last two hundred years in our media. The evidence on the proverbial table includes not only the famous (and prolific) footprints, but also video taped sightings, audio tapes of distinctive howls, tree knocks (there are not many bears reported to be knocking on trees), human-like “chatter” in remote woods, visual sightings by thousands of witnesses over the decades, consistent olfactory experiences during sightings, stone throwing (again not common to bears, but common to primates), and hair and feces samples that have come up as unidentifiable as any known animal.

I just hope that when the animal we know as Bigfoot or Sasquatch is officially “discovered”, that they will be allowed to continue on relatively undisturbed. After all, the majority of witnesses report that they are not actively aggressive towards humans, but seem to just want to be left alone to live their lives as they have for thousands of years.

 

Fort Huachuca, Arizona

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Fort Huachuca, located in Sierra Vista, Arizona, a mere fifteen miles from the Mexican border, was originally established as a government stronghold against the Native Americans in the war for the west. It was center of operations for the campaign against Geronimo and his warriors and later against Pancho Villa. The 10th Calvary “Buffalo Soldiers” called Fort Huachuca home for two decades, lending even more historical significance to an already illustrious past. Not only was February 14, 2012 the 100th anniversary of Arizona’s statehood, but February is African American History Month, so there are two reasons to honor the Fort this month!

Carleton House was built in 1880 to serve as the Fort’s hospital.  The Fort soon outgrew the six-bed facility, so a larger building was built and Carleton House went on to serve a variety of purposes, finally settling in as housing for high ranking officers and their families. These days the Fort serves as as U.S. Army’s Information Systems Command and the Army Intelligence Center and School. Carleton House is still used as officer’s housing.

Army life being what it is, there is a lot of moving around, so a number of families have moved in and out of Carleton House over the years.  Even though many of the families stayed for short periods, the house soon gained a reputation.  The most voluble witness to date for this haunting is Brigadier General Roy Strom, who served as deputy commandant of the Army Intelligence Center and School during the 1980’s.

From day one the Stroms received clues that the house had a peculiar story.  One of the local men that the moving company hired refused to enter the home when he found out in which house he was supposed to be working.  Linens and blankets neatly stored in what was once the morgue of the old hospital were found strewn about the room.

The General and his family were convinced that they were the focus of pranks by the neighborhood children because the doorbell would ring continuously throughout the day, but no one was ever at the door.  The General even lay in wait for the mysterious bell ringer and ran around the corner of the house to the front when he heard the doorbell, but no one was visible.  Finally, the family disconnected all the doorbells.

The neighbors told the family of an incident that had happened to the prior residents of the house. The neighbor had sent her son over the the Carleton House with a plate of cookies for the resident family.  The boy could see the lady of the house through the glass in the front door, walking away as he rang the doorbell, seemingly ignoring him.  He went home with the cookies and told his mother what had happened.  Concerned, she phoned next door and the lady of the house said that they had just that moment walked in the front door, as the phone was ringing.  No one had been home when the boy saw the figure through the glass.

Mrs. Strom once saw what she now believes to be the ghost one morning when she was in the kitchen.  Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a female figure walk past the doorway.  She called out, believing it to be her teenage daughter.  When she didn’t receive a response, she investigated and found her daughter still asleep. No one else was in the house at the time.

The family also had some of the standard ghost activities: pictures falling off walls in the middle of the night for no reason, a swirling mist seen in the bathroom, voices being heard from empty rooms, things being moved.

The next residents of the home, Colonel Robert Bishop and his family, had their own experiences.  The colonel heard a young boy calling for “Daddy” in the wee hours of the morning.  He checked on his own son, but found him sleeping peacefully. The lights in the house would switch on and off of their own volition.  The base’s electrician checked the wiring, but could find nothing faulty.  The colonel’s wife would hear footsteps when she was alone in the home.

The spookiest encounter Colonel Bishop had was when he opened the door to one of the closets in the house and found himself face to face with a tall, blonde, female apparition.  Nonplussed, the army man closed the door and walked away swiftly.

The Bishops warned the next family slated to move into the Carleton House of the crazy happenings.  Colonel Warren Todd and his family said they lived in anticipation of finding the closet ghost, but never ran across her that way.  One of the Todd sons did see the blonde ghost in the living room one morning around three, and the youngest son, though remaining mute on the subject of the ghost, refused to sleep in his own room for the three years that they lived there.

As with the previous families, the Todds experienced the lights going on and off and when they reported it to the base electrician, he just shook his head and told them the issue with the wiring was psychical, not physical. They also heard a boy’s voice calling for “Father” and a female voice in the living room that said, “I’m tired. I’m sleepy.”

No one knows who the blonde ghost is, though at some time she was dubbed “Charlotte” and the name has stuck.  Since there were not many women on army bases out west back in the 1800’s, a popular theory was that she was the wife of an officer, or a local woman who died at the hospital while giving birth. That would explain why she is staying around the Carleton House, to search for her baby.

The most interesting aspect of the haunting, in my opinion, is that it takes place at a military base that is the center of cutting edge informational technology. In spite of the occupants being seasoned army personnel and logic-minded professionals, they still have to admit that there is more to their world than meets the eye!

I would like to thank the late Arthur Myers for his informative story on Fort Huachuca’s Carleton House in his book The Ghostly Gazetteer, which is one of my favorite ghost story books.  Thanks, Mr. Myers!

Castillo de San Marcos – St. Augustine, FL

The Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine, Florida is a destination worth visiting, ghosts or no ghosts.  It is the icing on the cake for a visitor interested in the paranormal, that this ancient (for our country, at least) fort seems to house multiple hauntings.  The first block was laid for this venerable old edifice in 1672 as protection against pirates and other sea-born threats to the Spanish colonial town of St. Augustine.  It took 23 years for the fort to be completed, and in that time many of the workers employed in its construction perished from tropical heat and diseases, not to mention violence.  It was during the Spanish rule that the Castillo obtained its first ghostly duo.
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