Meet “Big Foot”

It was northern California 1958. The year before the Hammer film The Abominable Snowman of the Himalayas had done well over the silver screens and was still in theaters. It was the ultimate Yeti film. It gave us towering monsters we never really saw clearly. We knew them by their huge footprints in snow. In August around the lumber roads of Bluff Creek, California, north of Willow Creek, big footprints appeared at night. Each morning the lumbermen came to their tractors, earth movers and dozers only to find big human barefoot footprints impressed in the chocolate colored mud all around. Two different types were found. One was a big fat enlarged human print. The other was a funny hourglass shaped print with a pointless groove in the ball of the foot.

Left, the enlarged human print. Right, the
Left, the enlarged human print. Right, the “Hourglass” print. Drawings taken from casts.

No one knew what to make of it. A little digging uncovered some old west stories of some Kangaroo Man who used to terrorize folks in the nearby Sixes in southern Oregon and northern California. The stories weren’t clear. He was hairy all over and a human monster. The last newspaper reports of him were about 60 years before at the turn of the century. Was this a big Indian or some wild renegade?DelNorte-Manbeast

No one knew, but it finally got coverage in the AP and local Humboldt Times in early October. The owner of the feet was declared to be BIG FOOT. That seemed accurate enough.

Well, it was a great story. The Humboldt Times dug up more stories. The Kangaroo Man was referred to, of course. Other stories came out, and finally it was declared that if “Big Foot” was a big Indian he was hurting no one. He was merely inspecting the equipment.

There were some stories of Bigfoot “temper fits,” naturally. Bigfoot threw gas cans, earthmover wheels, even culverts. Though it made the national news, a lot of that stuff was giggled at locally around Willow Creek, the center of the logging industry in those parts.

What all this came down too was this: some big footprints, of 2 radical different kinds, had been found around the lumber roads. The most beneficial information that came out of it all was the uncovering of old stories of a wildman or Omah, as the Indians called him, that used to howl and whistle, was hairy all over, had long arms and big feet. However, such a thing was last heard of 60 years before.

The Canadians naturally associated “Big Foot” with Sasquatch, but Sasquatch too was a pretty nebulous entity in 1958. Had British Columbia not been celebrating its centenary, Sasquatch would have been forgotten there too. In preparations for the upcoming festivities, Sasquatch had become a big deal in anticipation of using it as a cultural symbol. In the couple of years preceding, this interest had brought forward reports that described seeing something like a hairy “Yeti,” the big thing in world mysteries in the 1950s.

The creature Roe saw, as drawn by his daughter Myrtle Walton.
The creature Roe saw, as drawn by his daughter Myrtle Walton. There is nothing Yeti about it.

Soon a local Canadian journalist, John Green, would become crucial in getting the new image of the Sasquatch in print. He was one of the first to publish the William Roe sighting, which had occurred in October 1955 on Mica Mountain in the Canadian Rockies. When the Province ran its article in October 1958 on “Big Foot” Green took an interest in Bluff Creek. Later he and fellow Canadian Rene Dahinden got involved in Tom Slick’s expedition there to uncover the truth of “Big Foot.” It was clear that the theorizing on Yeti was already forming the image of Bigfoot.

Yeti had reigned as the world’s premier mystery in the 1950s. Tom Slick had already spent a lot of money trying to find the Yeti in the Himalayas. Now as he formed his expedition, American newspapers announced that “Slick Thinks Big Foot Kin of Abominable Snowman.” Green and Dahinden helped foster the idea Sasquatch and Bigfoot were one and the same. Altogether the image of Bigfoot and Sasquatch took form as a Yeti.

The Shipton Photo of the Yeti print found on Menlung La, Himalayas, 1951
The Shipton Photo (1951) of the print believed to be of the Yeti placed the Yeti as the chief mystery of the 1950s, but the print doesn’t match anything ever found in America.

Another early Bigfooter helped foster the association that Bigfoot and Sasquatch were the same thing. Bob Titmus had been in on Bigfoot from the beginning. As a Redding, California taxidermist, he had been the one to whom the lumber men had asked about identifying the print. Titmus drove to Bluff Creek but realized this was no known animal. He taught them how to make the plaster casts. Green would later develop a working relationship with him. In the process Titmus had seen Green’s tracing of the Ruby Creek Sasquatch print. He sent Green a tracing comparison of the print that Jerry Crew had found at Bluff Creek (Crew was the first to cast a print). Put together the tracings looked near identical.

In reality, Titmus’ drawing was an enormous artistic fib. The print that Crew cast was that of an enormous flat human foot. Green’s tracing was of some strange, elongated humanoid foot with toes that were almost even across. When Titmus drew his comparison he stretched the small toes on his tracing of Crew’s cast to make it look, in outline anyway, almost identical to the Ruby Creek Sasquatch print. This artistic lie clinched it for Green. Bigfoot and Sasquatch were one and the same.

The comparison made on page 26 of Green's original On the Track of the Sasquatch, 1968.
The comparison made on page 26 of Green’s original On the Track of the Sasquatch, 1968.
Jerry Crew holds the famous Bluff Creek Bigfoot cast. It is an enlarged flat human foot.
Jerry Crew holding the actual cast that Titmus claimed to have traced for Green. It is clearly an enlarged flat human foot. In Titmus’ “tracing” he stretched the small toes to match the Ruby Creek print, falsely indicating a similarity.

In short, Bigfoot’s footprint at Bluff Creek is neither the Sasquatch foot as traced at Ruby Creek (1941) nor is it the Yeti print as photographed by Eric Shipton in 1951. If all these prints represent the actual stimulus of the legend, then at the very least Yeti, Sasquatch, and Bigfoot are not one and the same thing and, indeed, from the prints they must be radically different.

One of the Blue Creek Mountain prints of 1967.
One of the Blue Creek Mountain prints of 1967.

The footprint that Crew cast in 1958 is actually a rare one. The most common prints uncovered and cast at this time were what Dr. John Napier of the Smithsonian dubbed the “Hourglass Print.” Personally inspecting a track of these prints is what convinced John Green that Bigfoot at Bluff Creek was real. He first saw them on a sandbar in 1958 and 9 years later again near Blue Creek Mountain, near Bluff Creek. He was able to identify them as the exact print he had seen 9 years before. He would later declare these prints to be “typical” of the tracks of Bluff Creek.

It was the interest created by these prints in 1967 that brought the old, disillusioned Bigfooters back out after the “years of silence.” It also brought Roger Patterson back to Bluff Creek and only a couple of months later he would “film” Bigfoot. His Bigfoot would also leave different style footprints, but they were clearly inspired by the “Hourglass” type of prints so dominant at Bluff Creek.

Bob Gimlin, Patterson's partner, holding casts of the footprints, left and right, left by the Bigfoot in Patterson's film, 1967.
Bob Gimlin, Patterson’s partner, holding casts of the footprints, left and right, left by the Bigfoot in Patterson’s film, 1967.

Sadly, for all of this, the origin of the footprints at Bluff Creek can be traced. Contractor Ray Wallace and his brother left the tracks as a joke to fool his lumbermen. This was vehemently denied in 2002 by Bigfooters when Wallace died and his obituary read “Bigfoot has died.” The family confessed therein that they knew Ray had been known for his jokes. His nephew Dale showed the wooden feet to the world.

Dale Wallace shows the Press. The wooden feet match those that Green said were typical of Bigfoot at Bluff Creek. From the picture above, they clearly made the Blue Creek Mountain prints in 1967.
Dale Wallace shows the Press. The wooden feet match those that Green said were typical of Bigfoot at Bluff Creek. From the picture above, they clearly made the Blue Creek Mountain prints in 1967. They match the Sandbar Prints of 1958 as well.

The outcry, of course, was caused by the fact that Patterson’s Bigfoot had feet that were inspired by Wallace’s fakes, especially noticeable in the curving toe line. And, worst of all, Wallace being to blame since 1958 meant that Patterson had gone to Bluff Creek to film something that had never been there to begin with.

From the pictures it is unquestionable that the type of footprint that inspired the longest lasting interest in Bigfoot at Bluff Creek are the prints that Ray Wallace laid down.

Removing Wallace and even the entire Bigfoot escapade at Bluff Creek does not abolish Bigfoot. It merely helps the Sasquatch to resurface and take precedence.

Sasquatch was never a cone headed Yeti, nor did it have enlarged human feet. It is, actually, more than one thing– two tribes. One was human; one was not. Both remain remarkably nebulous even to this day because of all the shenanigans at Bluff Creek and the desire of the Bigfooters to create Bigfoot in the image of Yeti.

There are two other entities. None were ever Sasquatch, but White Man, especially the Bigfooters, lumped them all together and added their features and attributes to Sasquatch. One is Dsonoqua. The other is Skoocoom. Skoocoom is 4 toed, if all the information is accurate. Like the Dsonoqua he may be a native American anthropoid.

But the upshot of these series of articles is to impress upon the reader one thing undeniable, that “BIG FOOT” is not one thing nor do the events of Bluff Creek 1958-1967 form his image and footprints for us.

When we meet Bigfoot we only meet a door that opens to something far more interesting– to old frontier stories of the Omah, Skoocoom, Sasquatch, Seeahtik, and Dsonoqua. It opens the door on wild men and a strange hairy human “monster.”

This needs investigating again, and this is the purpose of Pacific Northwest & Siberia Expedition.

***

For 25 years Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.

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