Bigfoot Encounters

Balsam Lake, Wisconsin - St. Croix Indian Reservation

Country Ledger Press, 7/25/02
Balsam Lake, Wisconsin, St. Croix Indian Reserve Byline: Greg Marsten

Strange Sighting Scares Women Into Hotel

Loretta Potter is dead serious. So serious, she has spent the last four nights in a Turtle Lake hotel. She swears there is a "Bigfoot" type creature near her home, just two miles outside Polk County in the town of Maple Plain, north of Highway 48. Potter described her encounter with vivid, and sometimes frightening detail.

"It was the small," Potter said. "It was an acrid, sort of a putrid smell. The kind of smell that burns the nose."

Potter, and her son, Peter Cupp, 18, were the lone witnesses in the strange sighting last Thursday, in the early morning hours, between 1 and 2 a.m.

"All the neighbors know now," Cupp said about their experience, while pointing to the scattering of a half-dozen homes in view of their hilly Sand Lake vicinity. Cupp claims to have been within 20 feet of the "creature," almost running into it, and confirmed the awful smell.

"It was rotten, like something dead," Cupp described, later comparing it to a "burning smell." Potter had heard the stories and tales of the Bigfoot for years, and there is precedent for other sightings in the Sand Lake region, going back as far as July of 1976. Potter had never seen the creature
before, but she claims to have heard it in the past.

"It's been out there for many years, but it's never ventured so close to the houses before," she said. "I'm just worried about the kids."

Cupp, a security officer, was the first to spot the creature on Thursday. He described in detail his terror and surprise. He describes going out to his car that morning, which was parked on the southwest end of their relatively new rambler home on the Reservation.

"I saw something from the corner of my eye," Cupp stated. "I knew right off what I'd freaked the heck out of me."

Cupp described something very large and dark. He ran inside when he saw and heard the creature stand up from between three evergreens next to the driveway. He grabbed a flashlight, and went back outside to confirm or deny his suspicions.

"I think it was more scared of me than I was of him," Cupp said with a light laugh. "I was shaking, though. It shocked me."

Potter mentioned the flurry of broken branches, some very large, that made her so afraid. "It would take something pretty big to break those branches," she said. "Right away, you'd think it was kids, but the smell, and how it broke all those branches?"

Potter claimed to have heard the creature "howling" two nights before, and has also heard the legends from over the years, but the "close encounter" was too close for her this time. She has stayed in a motel ever since. "I can't even return there, can't sleep there, that's for sure," she said.

Cupp, six feet tall and large framed, said the creature was much larger than him. He was not sure what the drew the creature to the house, but mentions his brother's loud stereo was playing shortly before the encounter. "We probably shouldn't have been playing it so loud, " he said. "But there was no one else around, and no one in the area was awake...I don't know, maybe that's why it showed up."

Cupp returned to the car with a flashlight to retrieve his cellular phone and called Barron County authorities a short time later. A deputy and St. Croix Tribal Police Officer Marven Halverson both made separate visits to the Sand Lake property.

"We took some pictures of the tracks, but they were pretty well driven over," Halverson confirmed. He refused to comment any further on their merit or source, waiting to confer with the Tribal Police Department's animal control officer.

Cupp tried to preserve those tracks, but the driveway area where the supposed creature ran was later washed with heavy rains on Sunday, destroying what remaining evidence might have existed. Cupp described the tracks as large, "with human toes."

"They tried to say it was a bear, but these were different," Cupp said. "Besides, we haven't seen a bear here in over five years, with all the dogs around." Cupp noticed that several local dogs had been barking loud that evening in an area to the southeast of their home where new homes are being built.

Potter feels that new construction combined with the recent heat wave may have brought the legendary creature to their home and onto her deck that evening. "I don't know what to make of it," she said. "But it's real...I don't know how to remedy this."

Cupp has been staying at the home, but he's been a bit more careful and cautious since last week. "I feel like I'm being watched when I come to the car," he said, while he walked across the yard in the high grass, looking for more evidence of footprints, or anything to prove what he saw last week.

Other creature sightings have been made in the Sand Lake/Cumberland area, although only a handful have ever been officially reported. The most recent was noted in an area seven miles to the west of Cumberland in the proximity of Sand Lake. The area has dense woods, many ponds, and tall grass. There are a few paved roads.

Cupp and Potter also separately confirmed another haunting detail of their incident last week. Two pet rabbits were missing from their yard the next morning. "Whatever was left," Potter said, "It won't tell the kids though. I just say they're gone.

Article courtesy Peter Guttilla

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