Stories and legends of Bigfoot and similar creatures pervade the history of the Pacific Northwest. In Teddy Roosevelt’s book, The Wilderness Hunter, he recalls an incident in which an unsuspecting Idaho fur trapper was violently killed by a bipedal ‘beast creature’ with four sharp fangs. In 1924 in Ape Canyon, Washington, several miners reported ape-like beings throwing rocks at their cabin and attempting to break in. Native Americans in the area have long espoused the existence of giant, hairy ‘wildmen’ in the Pacific Northwest wilderness. In fact, the term ‘sasquatch’ was taken from the Native American Halkomelem language.
Today, Northern California remains the unofficial home of Bigfoot, with the most sightings to date. The National Forest Service even named a remote stretch of California Route 96 as the “Bigfoot Scenic Highway.” There is also a 360-mile trail in NorCal’s vast upper wilderness named the “Bigfoot Trail,” which stretches through the Yolly-Bolly, Trinity Alps, Russian, Marble Mountain and Siskiyou Wildernesses.
According to the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization, there have been many reported Bigfoot sightings in the area, including 25 in Shasta County, 31 in Siskiyou County, 21 in Trinity County and 42 in Humboldt County. Here are a few of the more famous sightings:
The Roger Patterson Video
Stationed on Highway 299 in Humboldt, the small town of Willow Creek is where the first widely reported Bigfoot sighting occurred in 1958. About nine years after the first encounter (1967), the infamous Patterson-Gimlin footage of the creature walking across a clearing was shot in Willow Creek. Various experts were brought to determine the authenticity of the footage.
While professionals reviewing the film admitted it could have been faked, doing so would have required meticulous planning and execution. Whether or not the footage was real, it sparked an obsession with the Bigfoot legend, and a string of similar sightings.
Jack Dover’s Bigfoot Sighting, 1880s
In the January 1887 Del Norte Record the following article told of a close encounter with Bigfoot, then called Wild Man, in the area between Marble Mountain and Happy Camp. The experiencer, Mr. Jack Dover, was considered an upstanding and trustworthy citizen with a high credibility factor.
I do not remember to have seen any references to the ‘Wild Man’ which haunts this part of the country, so I shall allude to him briefly.
Not a great while since, Mr. Jack Dover, one of our most trustworthy citizens, while hunting saw an object standing one hundred and fifty yards from the bushes.
The thing was of gigantic size – about seven feet high – with a bull-dog head, short ears and long hair; it was also furnished with a beard, and was free from hair on such parts of its body as is common among men.
Its voice was shrill, or soprano, and very human, like that of a woman in great fear. Mr. Dover could not see its foot-prints as it walked on hard soil.
He aimed his gun at the animal, or whatever it is, several times, but because it was so human would not shoot.
The range of the curiosity is between Marble Mountain and the vicinity of Happy Camp. A number of people have seen it and all agree in their descriptions except that some make it taller than others. It is apparently herbivorous and makes winter quarters in some of the caves of Marble Mountain.”
– found in The Hermit of the Siskiyous by L.W. Musick.
Youth Group in Marble Moutain Wilderness
A youth group was camping in the Marble Mountain Wilderness when leader Jim Mills noticed a strange-looking creature skulking along a ridge nearby. He filmed it for nearly seven minutes, making the somewhat-grainy footage the longest video of an alleged Bigfoot sighting.
So what do you think? Is Bigfoot real or just an elaborate hoax? Let us know in the comments!
Northern California’s Outdoor Digital Newsmagazine