Pre-1958 “Bigfoot” Reference

 History  Comments Off on Pre-1958 “Bigfoot” Reference
May 062017
 

As every bigfooter probably knows, the word “bigfoot” was coined by Jerry Crew and his road building employees back in 1958 when they started finding large footprints going across the freshly torn up road they were building the day before.  Jerry and his crew were puzzled by these prints (though the Yurok natives on the crew knew what was responsible for them and started leaving the job because of it), so he consulted his taxidermist friend, Bob Titmus, who gave him plaster and directions on how to cast the footprints.  Jerry made a cast and brought it to the local paper in Eureka, and soon a newspaper story was written.  The story then spread on the AP news wire, and viola!  America had a name for that hairy biped that had been seen all over the country: “Bigfoot.”  

Of course, the creatures called bigfoot weren’t invented in 1958.  Hairy wildmen have been reported in North America for as long as there have been people there.  The wildmen just weren’t called “bigfoot” yet.  The word, “bigfoot,” was first used to publicly refer to sasquatches in 1958 when Jerry made those casts and brought one to the paper.  

I had always thought that “bigfoot” was the term used solely because the footprints that Jerry Crew and his men found were big.  That seemed simple enough, and there was never any good reason to question that assumption…  Until now.  There might have been another influence on Jerry’s choice of names.

Recently, I received an email from a woman named MaryAnn with a link to an episode from the 1950’s western, Death Valley Days.  The episode’s title was “Mr. Bigfoot.”  The episode is copyrighted 1956, two full years before Jerry named the creature that was making those big footprints.  

 

Scroll to the bottom of this article to watch the full episode of “Mr. Bigfoot” from the series, “Death Valley Days.”  

The episode is as corny as one would expect television to be in the mid 1950’s, and it made me smirk a number of times.  At around the 25 minute mark in the episode, Professor Muchmore starts talking about “Mr. Bigfoot.”  Muchmore explains that huge footprints measuring 18 inches long were occasionally found in the Owens Valley just west of Death Valley back in the 1860’s.  The footprints were six inches across the toes, and the stride was seven feet long when the creature was walking.  Sound familiar?

In the end, the tracks end up being a vehicle for the Professor to play Cupid, and much of what he told the protagonist about those footprints is never explained nor expanded upon.  But still, the size of the footprints, the stride, and the fact that the local Indians had a name for the creature all ring true with what we now think of as “bigfoot.” 

The details and possible implications of this episode are interesting to ponder.  I wonder if the episode’s writer had some knowledge of large footprints.  Did some other person, perhaps a resident of the Owens Valley, observe footprints of this size and tell the episode’s producers or writers about it?  The Owens Valley would be a likely place for a sasquatch to live.  There are bigfoot reports to this day in the Owens Valley.  At one time it would have been even better bigfoot habitat, especially back in the 1860s when the footprints were supposedly found in this fictional story, when the valley was more lush

And now, our feature presentation:  

The Bigfoot/Earhart Connection

 Footage, History, Patterson/Gimlin Film  Comments Off on The Bigfoot/Earhart Connection
Nov 062016
 

Original art by Melissa Babyak

Original art by Melissa Babyak

Having grown up in the 1970’s, my young mind was blessed with television shows such as In Search Of… that featured segments on topics such as bigfoot, UFOs and historical mysteries.  One of the regularly-featured enigmas in these shows was the disappearance of Amelia Earhart in 1937 while she attempted to circumnavigate the globe in a small plane.  Her body nor the plane wreckage was ever recovered and their location remains a mystery to this day.  However, some progress has been made in this missing-persons case.  Tantalizing information has arisen in recent years, and more surfaces all the time.  Just last week I read a recent news item about some possible progress on the Earhart mystery, and when I scanned the article I was surprised to find a familiar name from bigfoot research: Jeff Glickman.

For those new to bigfooting, Jeff Glickman was the executive director of a $75k examination of the Patterson/Gimlin Film.  The study was commissioned by a group that went by the name of the North American Science Institute (NASI), though it is unclear if this group did anything else but this one study.  The study lasted for several years culminating in a 1998 publication entitled, “Toward a Resolution of the Bigfoot Phenomenon.”  An abridged version of the paper can be read by clicking this link.  

Glickman’s bigfoot work came to some conclusions that even today seem unlikely (such as the mass of the film subject being 1957 pounds), but did so using well-established methods.  At the time, Glickman’s analysis was one of the best ever done on the film, and we in the bigfoot community applauded his scientific approach to the film.  Since the publication of Glickman’s report, only one analysis of the film is of the same or better caliber: When Roger Met Patty by Bill Munns (which is a must-read for anyone interested in the Patterson/Gimlin Film).  

Glickman has now been enlisted by a group called The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery, also known by the acronym TIGHAR.  Glickman and TIGHAR are working on a hypothesis that some bones found back in 1940 might belong to Earhart.  He has recently published his findings in a short paper.  

While I am less interested in the Earhart mystery than the bigfoot mystery, I find it interesting that Glickman is working on this project, and his involvement certainly brings to mind a couple questions.  If future DNA analysis concludes that the bones are indeed Earhart’s, will Glickman’s involvement in the bigfoot subject help or hurt the acceptance of his analysis?  Will the acceptance of Glickman’s work on Earhart help or hurt future acceptance of his previous bigfoot work?  

It is my hope that more forensics experts like Jeff Glickman will step forward to offer their opinions on sasquatch data.  Their opinions might serve to open the minds and eyes of their colleagues, thus causing a domino effect.  

Historic Account of a Giant’s Skull in Oregon

 Anthropology, Cultural, History, Native Culture  Comments Off on Historic Account of a Giant’s Skull in Oregon
Aug 122016
 

 

Memaloose Island

Memaloose Island is a small , rocky isle in the Columbia River a few miles east of Hood River which the local Native people used as a burial site for hundreds, if not thousands of years.  Until recent times, the Native Americans of the Columbia River did not bury their dead.  They instead wrapped the corpses in reeds, skins, or other materials and placed them inside canoes or structures at sacred sites, such as this island.  For an interesting history of the island, click this link (there are some pretty unsettling photos, so link-clicker beware!).

I recently received an email from a friend notifying me of an interesting tidbit found in a comment under a photograph of Memaloose Island on the website www.HistoricHoodRiver.com.  The comment is a short account from the recollections of Ira Rowland (1873-1965).  He remembers being on the island a number of times, and vividly recounts his witnessing of Victor Trivett in 1883, when Ira was almost 10 years old.   Click here to visit the page and read the full comment.

The section of this comment that is of interest reads as follows:

“I visited Memaloose lots of times in the old days before the high waters washed away so many relics and people looted so much of the stuff. There was a big skull there that always interested me. I would sure have liked to have seen the man it belonged to when he was alive. My uncle, Green Rowland, measured it. It was thirteen inches from jawbone to jawbone. There was a bullet hole in the forehead, so we always knew how of the giant died.”

Missing, of course, is the skull, any piece of it, or any photos of it.  Also missing is the information telling us what measureing “jawbone to jawbone” means.  It seems that Ira found the skull to be noteworthy in size, so it must have stuck out from the hundreds of other skulls on the island.

The mandible seemed to draw the attention of at least two people, Ira and his uncle, Green.  Without any supporting evidence, there is only a little we can uncover about the possible size of the jaw.  But, with unclear language as our only clue, there are a few ways to think about this mystery.

First, and possibly the most likely, it could be that Ira is not being factual, which is not to say that he was lying (though this possibility exists, too).  Perhaps he was just told that his uncle measured it, or the number was exaggerated.  We don’t know if Ira saw his uncle take the measurement, after all.  We just have to trust that his memory served him well when his account was written down so many years after the event.

Assuming Ira’s story is accurate, we might look at the other possibilities.  Certainly, if the measurement is 13 inches from one mandibular condyle to the other (these are the two points on the jaw bone that are furthest up and back on the jaw where the linear distance between the two would be the greatest), this would be a massive skull.  The average human male has a width of a little under five inches for this measurement.  The giant skull would be 260% larger in this regard.  This jibes well with what few estimates we have for the width of a large sasquatch’s head.  However, Sasquatch skulls would certainly be morphologically different than a human’s in ways other than size, especially at adulthood and of this size.  One would wonder why no other unusual features were mentioned in regards to the shape of the skull or the possible differences in dentation.

A diagram showing the average human measurements.

Another possibility is that Green Rowland took that 13 inch measurement another way.  Perhaps it was the distance from one mandibular condyle around the front of the jaw to the other.  To estimate the spread of the mandibles for comparison purposes, I approximated the jaw into a half circle with the half-circumference of 13 inches.  Using C=2πr with C=26, the radius is 4.14 inches.  Doubling this for the width of the mandible gives us a spread of 8.28 inches, still very large indeed.  In fact, this measurement conforms nicely to just a little over the width of the largest gigantopithecus mandible I have in my collection (a bit worse-for-wear, but the first replica I obtained from Dr. Grover Krantz way back in the 1990s).

Gigantopithecus mandible

Gigantopithecus mandible

Of the two measurements considered above, I think a linear measurement would be the most likely metric taken.  The vertical aspect complicates the half-circumference method, and would probably be inaccurate once obtained anyway.

If we consider Ira Rowland’s recollection of this giant mandible to be true and accurate, what kind of mammal did the mandible come from?  Since Ira mentioned that a skull that went with the mandible, it can be assumed that it was a human, or at least very human-like.  If the skull and mandible came from a human (Homo sapiens), then that was one big dude.  There is no reason to doubt the possibility that a really, really big Native man lived at some point and had his remains interred on the island.  This is the most logical conclusion, though the measurements cast some suspicion on this scenario.  Some readers might opt for an explanation involving the numerous giant skeletons that are rumored to have been found in North America, but which the Smithsonian and other institutions have swept out of our view for some nefarious reason (I find most conspiracy theories tiresome and convenient excuses for a lack of verifiable evidence).  This latter scenario seems the least likely of those put forth here so far.

Another interesting possibility is that these bones might have come from a sasquatch that had been killed.  This is also not a likely possibility, but one that is fun to consider.  Could it be that at some point a bigfoot was shot in the head and killed, only to have its body given the funeral rites of any other Native American person at the time?  After all, a common traditional Native view of sasquatches is that they are just another tribe of people living alongside their human cousins.  It seems possible that a dead sasquatch would be treated with the reverence and respect offered to any other person and left on Memaloose Island with the other dead.  The rest of the hypothetical bigfoot’s remains would be lost in the jumble of bones that was present on the island back in the 19th Century.  They simply wouldn’t stand out like a skull would.

While the discussion above is a fun mental exercise, it is of little importance.  Without the mandible in question to examine, let alone a sasquatch mandible to compare it to, any conclusions are speculations at best, and utterly meaningless at worst (though I don’t really see this as a bad thing).  All we can say with any certainty is that even if the report is true and accurate, and if that mandible came from a sasquatch, then another opportunity to bring in a substantial part of a sasquatch slipped though history’s fingers.

Still, I have to wonder…  If this tale is true, where is the skull?

For another story about a possible sasquatch skull and another missed opportunity, click here.

 

 

 

Feb 022014
 
The cover of the PG Fold-out Post Card by Daniel Perez

Daniel Perez has put together a fold-out post card featuring photographs of the Patterson/Gimlin Film Site from various years.  The card features photographs by John Green, Peter Byrne, Walt Deeds, Warren Thompson, and Daniel Perez.  Each photograph is fascinating, not only for their historical value, but also to see how the location has gradually become unrecognizable over time.  

To obtain one of these collectible cards, send $5.50 via Paypal (only via Paypal, no checks or anything else will be accepted) to Daniel Perez’s email address, perez952@sbcglobal.net.  There is a limit of ONE per customer, and supplies are very limited.

A must-have for any collector of
Bluff Creek history!

Jan 162014
 

Back in 1959 when the Tom Slick yeti expeditions were in full swing, the government of Nepal felt it necessary to lay down some regulations regarding the effort.  The official government document (seen above) states three simple rules to follow.  To sum them up, pay the Nepalese government for trying, don’t shoot one, and everything obtained on an expedition should be “surrendered” to the government.

It is not known to what extent the Slick expeditions intended to follow these regulations, especially in light of the theft of a bone from the Pangboche Yeti Hand relic.  Still, these were the rules at the time which Slick and his man in the field, Peter Byrne, were expected to follow.

To read the best account of the Tom Slick expeditions of this era, I highly recommend Loren Coleman’s Tom Slick and the Search for the Yeti.  It is a fascinating look into both these efforts and the creatures themselves.

For more on modern efforts to research the yeti, click here.

Nov 202013
 
Sanderson’s inscription to Jerry Crew

While filming volume two of Bigfoot Road Trip, I was treated by seeing (and holding and caressing) many lost treasures of bigfoot history.  Among them was this little gem.

Ivan T. Sanderson gave Jerry Crew a copy of his book, Abominable Snowmen: Legend Come to Life.  Sanderson was kind enough to write a short, personalized inscription into the inside cover the book, which Jerry kept safe over the years (though a little water damage and time has taken their toll).

Sanderson and Crew knew each other well, and considered each other friends.  Besides this book, there were letters from the men to each other, as well as other relics from the history of bigfooting.  Many of these will be showcased for the very first time with the release of Bigfoot Road Trip, Volume 2, expected to be released this summer.

Oct 062013
 

This recent article caught my eye because the location is very near where we filmed the Virginia episode of Finding Bigfoot.  It sounds like they had a pretty aggressive bigfoot in the area over 100 years ago.

A Bigfoot sighted near Bristol began a reign of terror
BY BUD PHILLIPS | SPECIAL TO THE BRISTOL HERALD COURIER

It seems that all across America, there are areas that have tales of what might be called “Bigfoot stories.” Virtually all of them tell of a super-sized giant resembling a human being. The detailed descriptions vary as to size and shape, but there are some things in common. Generally it is told that the footprints are in the 18-20 inch range. Also, the gigantic body is usually covered in black or brown hair. This hair is usually said to be muddy or matted and in most cases, there is a long, overwhelming eye-burning scent that lingers long after the beast has passed. Some say they have encountered the scent without encountering the sight and have fled.

Most of these bigfoot reports come from the Pacific Northwest, but there are other scattered stories coming from other parts of the nation. In Virginia, I am aware of reports that include Culpepper, Dinwiddie, Orange, Highland, Amherst, Bath, Prince William, Giles and Wythe counties. In the area of Tennessee near Bristol, there are claims made of such in Johnson, Greene, Hancock and Hawkins counties.

Aug 222013
 

Shortly on the heels of Jerry Crew’s footprint casting in October, 1958, a Seattle, WA man came forth to explain the large footprints found hundreds of miles to the south.  The man, Al Corbett, claims that in around 1930, he was aware of a “mentally deficient” Indian youth that was kept chained up by his parents until he eventually broke free of his bonds and ran off.  (I guess this was before Child Protective Services existed!)

This article was put on the AP news wires and circulated widely at the time.  This particular version comes from the Fresno Bee, and is dated October 8, 1958, just four days after the original newspaper article featuring Jerry Crew and the bigfoot cast.

There have always been ridiculous explanations for sasquatches.  Until a wider acceptance of the species spreads, there will continue to be strange, illogical explanations for a perfectly normal species of North American mammal.  This one is particularly interesting as it seems to be in response to the Jerry Crew footprint find.

Jul 052013
 

The photograph, taken this past weekend, is of what famous sighting location?  
Give an answer by leaving a comment below!
Need a hint?  Here is another picture that makes it a dead giveaway:

Update 7/6
(The Answer)

Some of you guessed correctly in that these photos come from the famous Glen Thomas Site.  This sighting was well documented by John Green, and this location was where Mr. Thomas had the first of several encounters in the areas of the Clackamas and Molalla Rivers.  
I was shown the site by the King of the Clackamas, the Clackamaster himself, Joe Beelart.  Nobody knows the Clackamas River and its bigfoot history better than this man, as will be evident when his upcoming book is published describing the bigfoot events documented in this area.  
Joe and I filmed a segment for the second volume of Bigfoot Road Trip, which will be out in Winter, 2014.  In the meantime, feel free to pick up a copy of Bigfoot Road Trip Volume 1 and enjoy a sasquatch adventure unlike any other.