The Bossburg, Washington (Cripple) Tracks
The Way The Saga Unfolded and photos...
Krantz & Dahinden examined all 1,089 tracks in the snow... November 24, 1969
The Bossburg Cripple foot's deformity was due to the congential condition
we call, metatarsus adductus or skew foot. (Krantz 1999)
Left to Right - Rene Dahinden, Don Byington and Ivan Marx Nov.Dec. 1970...
In addition to the
discoveries in Bluff Creek, California in years prior to 1969, new centers
of Sasquatch activity took shape elsewhere. The most notable of those
reports occurred in Bossburg, in the eastern part of Washington State,
just south of the Canadian - U.S., border. The Bossburg tracks had a rather
special claim to fame. Accordingly, the late René Dahinden (August 22, 1930 - April 18, 2001) dictated
the events as they unfolded to Don Hunter in their book "Sasquatch" in this order:
Joe Rhodes, a resident
butcher from nearby Colville, WA, had first found the tracks on November
24, 1969. The tracks were in the soft soil near the Bossburg community garbage
dump, and one foot appeared to be badly crippled. It was being speculated
that the creature was handicapped badly enough to force it to scrounge
off man's kitchen scraps for a living --a theory which René rejected.
found one good print, which someone had protected by covering it with
a cardboard box. It was a right foot and clearly showed signs of malformation.
He photographed it and cast a plaster mould. The next few days he spent
surveying the area and the people who lived there, talking with all he
met, making trips into the bush, and generally getting the feel of the
whole situation. Within a few days Bob Titmus, a taxidermist, and late
leader of the abortive Tom Slick expedition, who had been living in Kitimat,
B.C., some seven hundred miles north and west, joined him. The actors
were gathering, and the performance that would ensue was perhaps foreshadowed
by Titmus's behavior immediately following his arrival and which René describes:
Titmus had provided the Sasquatch's main course. Trotting along with the dessert came one Norm Davis (known to the company as "Dickie"), a radio station owner turned Sasquatch hunter for the time being. He hung a basket of fruit in a neighboring tree, carefully suspending it a measured six feet from the ground, the height which, presumably, would afford the Sasquatch maximum viewing of the selection of goodies. René watched the antics, interested to the extent that they demonstrated once more the kind of frivolous approach he had become used to dealing with.
After three days, when the meat was about ready to make its own tracks and the bloom was off the fruit, Titmus gave up in disgust and went home to Kitimat. Ren~, intrigued by the one crippled print and anxious to stay, made a deal with Davis: he would live in a trailer owned by the radio man and in lieu of rent would show the Patterson film and talk about the Sasquatch to local service clubs and other interested groups. The crippled print bothered him; he had never seen anything like it, and the more he considered it, the more unlikely it seemed that it could be anything but genuine. Davis's trailer was moved onto Ivan Marx's property and the hunters took up the pursuit. On the morning of December 13, a Saturday, they found what they were looking for.
Several inches of snow had covered the ground that morning when René and Ivan Marx and a young local man named Jim Hopkins set out in Marx's car to check an area along the banks of Roosevelt Lake, the reservoir for the Grand Coolie dam. They checked the bank for about four miles, examining spots where meat scraps had been dropped by René earlier in off-the-beat locations, but found nothing. Near a railway crossing, where the railroad and the highway run close to the Columbia River, they stopped and Marx climbed out to check a small meat cache a little way along a side road. Just before stopping, they had passed a jeep parked by the roadside. Marx was away from the car only seconds before he came racing back: "Bigfoot tracks!" he shouted.
René was filling
his pipe. He kept on filling it, peering over the bowl at Marx, waiting
for the kicker, the grin that would say, "Okay, joke over." It didn't come.
The three were quickly down to Marx's place and back to the tracks, cameras and-in René's case-a gun cocked and loaded for Sasquatch. Now for the first time René saw a full spread of the cripple's tracks. They were, and are still, among the most convincing tangible evidence to be turned up in his years as a Sasquatch hunter. The left footprint measured 17 ½ inches long, 6 ½ inches across the ball of the foot, and 5 ½ inches across the heel; the right one was 16 ½ inches long, 7 inches across the ball, and also 5 ½ inches at the heel. The right foot was deformed; the third toe was either badly twisted over or was missing, there being only a slight impression in the snow at its base; the little toe stuck out at a sharp angle; and the whole foot curved outwards and showed two distinct lumps on the outer edge. A careful count eventually showed there were 1,089 clearly definable prints on the path that the three followed through the snow.
The tracks led them from the river, across the railroad and across the main highway. Whatever had made them had stepped over a forty-three-inch-high, five-strand wire fence, judging by the single prints of the left and the right feet on either side of the fence. On the far side of the fence, in a cluster of pine trees, there was a marked depression in the ground among the pine needles, apparently where some heavy animal had rested. No one denies the possibility that this was made by a cow or a deer, there being plenty of each in the area, but its presence in the line of the crippled tracks is worth noting, as is the fact that right in the center of the depression was a clump of snow holding the imprint of the toes of the left foot, as though the snow had been shaken loose after building up on the foot. In the clearing beyond the pine trees were hundreds more tracks, leading across the flat land and up a small hillside. In the heat of what appeared might be the moment of truth, René, discarding his customary caution, cried, "Now we're going to get that hairy sonofabitch!"
He figured the prints were going to lead on up the hill and the hunters would be able to run whatever had made them into the ground. But the prints stopped, halfway up the hill, turned, and retraced their path downward. At one spot, between two side-by-side prints, the hunters discovered a deep yellow patch in the snow, apparently urine. It was probably against their interests that they neglected to collect the yellow snow; analysis may have given some clue as to what made it. The prints continued down the hill, parallel with their first ascending path, returned to the fence and crossed it again about fifty feet from the first step-over.
From there the tracks led the hunters across the road and back and over the fence several times, and eventually across the road and the railroad, through a patch of bush and to the edge of a steep part of the river bank, about one hundred and fifty feet above the water. There the bank was overhanging. The tracks turned and went upstream for approximately two hundred feet, to a point where the bank sloped gradually down to the river, and there they stopped. All the way down the bank was a deep groove, as one made by a heel and a foot acting as a brake for an upright body "skiing" down the bank. Below that there was just rocks; no further markings.
One thought hammered repeatedly in Dahinden's mind, the thought that had prompted his earlier optimistic exclamation: the tracks were fresh, not more than fifteen hours old. He had checked the area the previous evening and it had been bare. Nevertheless, his characteristic caution was at work again. He was stirred all right, but his mind persisted in herding suspicions and pushing them to the front. Why did the tracks happen to be just there, where he would be sure to go every day, where he checked all the time, within a few miles of the garbage dump where the thing had been reported seen all the time? It was the obvious place for a hoaxer to plant his work. On the other hand it seemed impossible that anyone could have faked such minute anatomical detail as was evident in the crippled print. He walked the route of the tracks seven times, examining every print, puzzling over them. Assuming they were real, where had the thing come from, and where had it gone to? Had it crossed the river upstream or downstream, and if so - how far away in which of those directions? (There are numerous reports in the history of the Sasquatch of the creatures swimming rivers and lakes.) The questions were obvious, and easy to ask, but were impossible to answer, given the group's limited resources. Dahinden, applying lessons he had learned at places such as Bluff Creek (where people, seeing a print, had sprinted off in every conceivable direction looking for its owner, leaving the print to the ravages of the first rain shower or the first curious onlooker and his dog), concentrated on the footprints, trying to deduce as much as possible from them.
The right print showed more compression than the left, suggesting that the body weight was more to the right, further suggesting that the right leg was shorter than the left as a result of whatever mishap-congenital or otherwise-had caused the evident malformation. René speculated that the creature had at one time suffered an accident that had caused dislocation of the shinbone. Some of the prints were lifted from the snow and kept in Marx's freezer for a while. They were eventually discarded when the hunters developed one of their periodic collective depressions, generally attributed to science's marked apathy towards their endeavors. As it was, their interest would soon be riveted on another freezer and its alleged contents.
René's preoccupation with the prints disturbed Norm (Dickie) Davis. Rather than worry about establishing the legitimacy of old ones, Davis thought, they should be out chasing new ones. Accordingly, he phoned Titmus and others and suggested that René was neglecting the hunt, that their presence was needed to get things back into gear. While they went about setting their affairs straight in their various locations before moving on Bossburg, the prints continued to attract general interest.
Tourists tramped about,
their curiosity tweaked by news stories, as did most of the sheriff's
office members and officers from the border patrol. A bus driver on the
Trail, B.C.-to- Spokane run, something of a Sasquatch buff himself, caught
sight of René one day just off the highway filming the cripple's
prints. He slammed on his brakes, hauling the bus to a halt just before
the railway crossing, then reversed a hundred yards or so and drove the
bus into the side of the road. Then, briefly explaining to his passengers
that there were some Sasquatch tracks he had to see, he left them gaping
out of the windows while he trotted over with his box camera to record
his own souvenir of the malformed foot.
By this time René had been joined by Roy Fardell from B.C. and Roger St. Hilaire, a young zoologist from San Francisco. Together they considered the question of faking: on this side of the river the prints were perfectly located for discovery; on the other side they were in a spot virtually never used, where all the access gates were kept locked by the logging company. If the prints on this side had been faked, surely whoever had made them would have planted the ones on the far bank in an equally accessible place, to complete the hoax. (This persistent reversion into pessimism over tracks and other evidence is as much a constant of the serious Sasquatch hunter's character as his determination to resolve the mystery.) The consensus while it remained firm-was that the tracks were genuine.
At this point Roger Patterson, with his partner Dennis Jensen, came to Bossburg. He would be there intermittently during the saga that followed; Jensen would hang in the whole time, protecting their dual interests.
The search for the cripple went on through December and into January. Using four-wheel drive vehicles, light planes, and snowmobiles, the hunters covered hundreds of square miles of rugged country, ploughing over mountain ridges and through dense bush. And all the time René lived with the wriggling thought that maybe they were following a phony. The longer they went without finding a trace of the cripple, the worse the suspicions grew, and the more the others began to share the doubts. Misgivings went around the group like the Hong Kong flu as each of the hunters nurtured doubts about the others. Infidelities were imagined, old but forgotten conflicts resurrected. As it happened, it wasn't each other they had to worry about-at that point anyway.
In January René took another shot at making the Patterson film pay, this time on a showing circuit of the Calgary area. He would be a distant but pivotal participant in the main feature.
One evening at the end of January, two men arrived at the Sasquatch hunters' camp on the Marx property, Joe Metlow, a prospector, and Bill Streeter, a state wildlife agent. Metlow's first question to the hunters was, what was their price on a Sasquatch? It was explained to him, in somewhat noble fashion by Dennis Jensen, that money was hardly a consideration compared with the importance to science of establishing the creature's existence. And besides, he pointed out, getting hold of a Sasquatch was a much more involved problem than Metlow seemed to appreciate.
"But I've got one," Metlow said, "and it's sold." Nobility and scientific priorities fled. "We'll top your best offer, "Jensen countered. At this point Fardell and St. Hilaire were somewhere in the wings. The first act was Jensen's alone.
Metlow's story was that on January 27, while out running claim lines (at a location he wouldn't name for the moment), he had come up behind a cream-colored Sasquatch at a distance of about eighty yards. He said he could make out only its back and that it appeared to be digging ferns out of knee-deep snow and eating the roots. Metlow noted that the surrounding area was well trampled, and he felt the creature was making its home close by. He had brought Streeter along to confirm the story. Streeter was able to confirm that that was the story Metlow had told him; after that he faded-in a most judicious move-from the picture.
Throughout the discussion that followed, Metlow, displaying all the time an astonishing facility for avoiding specifics, somehow gave the impression to Jensen that not only did he know where the creature lived, but that he had immobilized it in an abandoned mine shaft. He said nothing more about how much he had been offered, or by whom. Jensen was sold. He stressed to Metlow that the only source of any money worth considering among the Sasquatch hunters was at Northwest Research Association (another name for Roger Patterson) in Yakima, and that he would contact his principals immediately. He did, and Patterson directed him to keep the talking going, and to keep the Dahinden crowd out of it. Schism. Metlow left, promising to keep in touch.
Roy Fardell and Roger St. Hilaire, the Dahinden camp, knew something was popping. They managed to scrape together the bones of the story and, following some intricate detective work, came up with Metlow. After that it wasn't too difficult to discover the approximate area where Metlow had been prospecting on the day in question. It was somewhere on Frisco Standard, a mountain a few miles to the north.
While these deductions were being pursued, Roger Patterson was in touch with his backer Tom Page, a wealthy Ohio executive who paid the former rodeo rider an annual retainer to be kept informed of every break in the Sasquatch search. Page flew out immediately, and he and Patterson met and huddled with Metlow, following which the Patterson camp moved its operation to a motel in Colville, twenty-two miles away. The divorce was final.
René reflected on the split somewhat ruefully, and certainly naively: "I thought it had been all for one and one for all before this, but that's not the way it worked out."
The Dahinden camp, its leader in Calgary but in daily contact by telephone, stayed put in Ivan Marx's back yard. Dahinden's orders to the others were to stall, and bluff to find out what Patterson and Page were offering, and top it. René talked to Metlow by phone but was quite unable to determine whether the man had what he said he had. By now Page was tossing around the figure of thirty-five thousand dollars for a Sasquatch, dead or alive. Metlow remained coy. Page had hired a helicopter from Spokane and had it on constant alert at Colville airport, ready for immediate take-off on Exercise Sasquatch-Retrieval.
The Dahinden camp was ready to move whenever the Patterson lot stirred. And there were others. A young newspaperman, Denny Striker of the Colville Statesman Examiner, who had been keeping journalistic track of the hunters' presence since the first sighting of the crippled print, could almost taste a massive scoop. If anyone from either camp moved, somehow Striker was after him. He had a jeep sitting in the bush, gassed up and ready to run at the first sign of action. At one point he kept the Patterson motel under observation for seventy-two hours straight, following a tip that the big move was imminent. And the ubiquitous Norm Davis was on the fringe of the action, tagging along with the Dahinden group. Sides were being taken by the usually non-partisan; the border patrol officers committed (unofficially) their help to the Dahinden side, their sense of fair play apparently offended by the selfish attitude suddenly displayed by the Patterson troupe.
Ivan Marx stayed neutral, warning Dahinden's men: "If you tell me anything, and the other guys ask me, I'll tell them, so better not tell me anything." As friction grew between the two sides the townspeople grew disenchanted with their one-time favorites. Where once they had stopped to pass the time of day with the adventurers who were keeping the Bossburg-Colville area on the newsmap, now they snubbed them and wished them and their double-dealing long gone.
The hunters' predicament was perhaps best summarized by the one who said: "You couldn't step behind a tree to take a leak without feeling a dozen pairs of eyes on you." The opposing camps followed each other snorting across the hills on snowmobiles, criss-crossing Frisco Standard and the surrounding region. On one occasion, Davis, outfitted in a startling red snowsuit several sizes too big for him, constantly had trouble keeping his seat. Periodically he would roll off as the machine bounced off a ridge or hump and would flounder around up to his buttocks ("like a flaming great snow bunny," as one participant later recalled), a thrashing red figure against the gleaming snow, while his companions plaintively called, "Hurry, Dickie, we're going to lose them!"
Metlow was still being coy about his Sasquatch. Finally Page offered him a thousand dollars to confirm the area where he supposedly had the creature. Although no money changed hands, Metlow conceded that it was on Frisco Standard, but he declined to accompany the hunters to the spot. By this time all concerned should probably have concluded that there was nothing to the prospector's story; but they were in the advanced stages of Sasquatch fever, blind to all reason. In a "top secret" move Patterson and Page and group whipped off in their chopper, set down on the top of Frisco Standard, and took to snow shoes. The Dahinden squad was not outdone; a local sympathizer with their cause had provided a light plane, for the price of the cost of fuel. The moment that Patterson and Page left their machine, the "enemy" small plane came buzzing round the mountain, playfully waggling its wings at them as they flapped about in the deep powder snow. It was now that the border patrol man was moved to make his prediction: "I could see the end of it - a shootout on Frisco Standard; one dead Sasquatch and a dozen dead hunters." And indeed one of the most bloody-minded of the Dahinden squad vowed that should the Patterson-Page chopper be sighted homeward bound with a Sasquatch strapped to the skids, it would be blasted from the Bossburg skies.
Metlow was still accepting no offers, but still was making noises that kept the bidding healthy. Dahinden's men were phoning René at 2 a.m. with daily reports. The bids crept up: $35,000, $40,000, $50,000. "Top them," Dahinden ordered. At the same time he phoned John Green, asking him to get down to Bossburg to watch over their interests. Green went, but (according to Jensen), apparently overcome by the same motives that were fuelling the whole fiasco, spent most of his time galloping between the two camps, seeing where the best deal lay for himself. From this came the rift that more or less broke the one-time close Dahinden-Green partnership.
René's final bid, made as he recalls, "from a motel in Calgary where I was without a pot to piss in," was for $55,000. It was enough to call Metlow's bluff. The prospector walked away from the affair, still uncommitted as to the truthfulness or otherwise of his story. Whether René could have raised the $55,000 remains academic-but chances are that he couldn't.
Metlow wasn't finished with the hunters yet though. When the Frisco Standard smoke had cleared, René, by now back in Bossburg and in an apparent moment of truce with the Patterson team, paid a visit with Jensen to Metlow's home. Conversation was general and quite genial until Metlow casually mentioned that he had a Sasquatch foot in his freezer. The fur hit the fan again. René immediately offered five hundred dollars for one peek at the exhibit. Metlow raised him to five thousand dollars. The excitement brought Dickie Davis to the scene, antennae quivering. Before you could say, "Bigfoot," Davis had a contract sketched out. It would include John Green to write the book, Bob Titmus to skin and dissect the foot's owner- presumably stashed in a cave somewhere above the snow line-and anthropologist Dr. Grover Krantz to introduce it to science. René was out, so was Patterson.
René was still trying to assess Metlow. Did he or did he not have something? He spun a fine yarn, but it was very, very flexible. Now Metlow modified his foot story; the thing wasn't actually in his freezer, it was in a freezer at his sister's home near Portland, where he had sent it for safekeeping. They would have to go there to retrieve it. Right, said Davis, and sprung for two return air tickets. By now money was running at flood volume between Davis and those he had named to the contract; but it was all on paper and destined to stay there, except for what Davis lost in his flush of enthusiasm to make more.
Davis and Metlow set out for Spokane from where they would emplane for Portland. Only one of them made it. On the way to the plane from the Spokane terminal building Metlow slipped on some ice and injured his ankle. He had to have it treated, he judged, before going anywhere. "You go on to Portland, Dickie," he said, "I'll get this fixed and then I'll get the next flight out." Like a lamb Davis followed the instructions and flew off to Portland, where he waited two days. He could have waited much longer. Metlow, not the wasteful sort apparently, had cashed in his plane ticket, bought a couple of bottles of the best tasting painkiller and retired to his home to rest the injury. Davis phoned frantically and in vain from Portland, then returned. "I was real sick, Dickie, I couldn't make it," Metlow explained.
The Metlow chase was exhausted. While the prospector never did concede that he was operating a hoax- or worse it was obvious to the Sasquatch squads that they'd been had. Several of the police officers in the area, who had followed the developments with a mixture of amusement and incredulity, suggested seriously to René that the prospector should be invited into the bush and persuaded to clear the whole thing up. They swore they would look determinedly the other way. But René settled for warning Metlow, in somewhat dramatic fashion and to the prospector's expressed concern, that wherever he went from then on he would be under surveillance by a considerable network of electronic bugging devices. Metlow faded gracefully from the scene. Davis attempted to save some face by accusing René of souring the deal by offering $55,000 that he obviously didn't have. "But that was for a Sasquatch that Metlow didn't have either," René rationalized.
The episode had cost everyone money and had made all of them appear gullible, though some more than others. René says of it: "It's a pity it happened; it was stupid and it gave the business a bad name. But then in a way I'm not sorry it happened. It taught me a lot about the people I had been working with." The Sasquatch hunters packed their gear and cleared out of the Bossburg region.
The Metlow intrusion, while it demonstrated perhaps one good reason why scientists generally tended to steer clear of the Sasquatch business, did not in any way help to answer or clarify the issue of the crippled prints that had brought Rene and the others to Bossburg in the first place. It served only to take attention away from them. And the mystery wasn't helped any by what happened next in the continuing Bossburg saga. And here we consider the film mentioned earlier in this chapter.
Back in Vancouver Rene kept his finger on the Bossburg pulse through regular telephone contact with Ivan Marx. And it seemed that every time he called, Marx had found something; a handprint here, a footprint there, signs of an unusually heavy creature bedding down in the bush; always something to keep the trail warm.
Marx phoned him one evening that October (1970) and said, "I've got a film of the cripple." The hows and wherefores of the filming were reported in the Colville Statesman Examiner under the byline of Denny Striker, late of the Metlow pursuit:
On the night of Oct. 6 an unidentified person called the Marx home, leaving a vague message that either a car or a train had struck a large upright creature on the highway about seven miles north of Bossburg. Marx was away at the time but when he received the message ... he left immediately for the area with a hunting dog he hoped would follow the spoor of the Sasquatch, if indeed that was what it actually was.
Marx was armed with nothing more than a Bolex 16mm movie camera with a 17mm lense, a 35 mm Nikon and a two-way radio with which he had contact with rancher Don Byington, who was in the area by the time Marx's dog had located the creature. (photo: 16mm Bolex-->)
The day was heavily overcast with smoke ... when Marx jumped the creature in the bottom of a dense draw and began filming. The initial footage shows a large black upright figure moving stealthily but rapidly through the dense growth, but only in silhouette.
Marx pressed the pursuit with his hound, forcing the Sasquatch into a clearing where, with his movie camera set at f2.8 he took the remarkably clear footage of an impressive looking creature. On the screen the Sasquatch is shown moving from right to left at an angle of about forty-five degrees away from the photographer. Distance from the subject according to Marx ranged from twenty-five feet to more than a hundred feet as it made its way into the heavy underbrush on the far side of the clearing.
Probably the most impressive part of the film, besides its extreme clarity, is the fact that the Sasquatch is visibly injured, holding its right arm tightly to its chest and using its long muscular left arm for compensating balance. Also, both ankles of the creature seem badly skinned, the wounds showing plainly raw against the black hair of the legs and feet.
In watching the frames singly, the injured or skinned area appears to extend onto the bottom of one foot, and possibly on both feet, which would account for the apparent pain-filled movements of the frightened creature. As the Sasquatch is nearing the far side of the clearing, a twisted tree limb is stepped on, bouncing up and striking it above knee level. Marx, the following day, photographed this stick, which was ten feet long. In comparison the creature photographed would have stood about nine feet tall and Marx estimated its weight as that of two large bears, or around seven to eight hundred pounds.
The only thing the film is lacking is a facial feature on the creature. Twice while crossing the clearing the Sasquatch turned its head to glare at Marx. The first time it turned 180 degrees and uttered a weird scream, which was heard by Byington, positioned on a ridge nearby. The second time it turned a full 360 degrees, appearing quite confused, but the lack of light prevented any facial features from showing plainly ....
Marx said he continued pursuit of the creature until darkness prevented further advance, and when the trail was recovered the following day, it led through a maze of rugged terrain and finally to a body of water where it was lost. He feels the Sasquatch is very old and apparently hurt quite badly.
Striker finished the
story with a statement from René who had arrived in Bossburg: "Ivan
has a movie and that leaves only two choices. Either it is real or it
is not. That's what I'm here to find out."
Tom Page flew in dangling before Marx a cheque for $25,000, for the film or a copy of it. He made the proposition possibly out of desperation, in light of his earlier experiences at Bossburg-that Marx could have the cheque if he would confirm or deny the authenticity of the film. Whether he would have honored the offer if Marx had said the film was faked is a moot but nonetheless intriguing question. The fact that Marx declined that offer should have loaned immediately to the film at least a touch of uncertainty.
Most of the hunters were saying for publication that Marx had the genuine article. René conceded reluctantly that such might be the case, more from a desire to believe Marx's wife, whom he respected and liked and who was confirming her husband's story, than from conviction. John Green arrived and wasted no time in declaring the film authentic. He offered Marx eight hundred dollars for a copy, of which action Rene reflects dryly, "I guess he wanted two Sasquatch films." (The other one being the Patterson film.) Green was moved to write a tribute to Marx for the pages of the Bigfoot Bulletin, a mimeographed publication sent out intermittently from a base in Oakland, California. Part of it read: "I am satisfied...that he could not have faked all he has to show, and that the film is genuine."
Don Byington, the rancher who had been within walkie-talkie distance of Marx when the film was shot, had two young children, and these youngsters, from the time the film was first shown, were heard to murmur that they knew well the location of the filming (Marx had kept the spot secret). No one paid them any heed. The film stayed in limbo and the winter marched on. Still Marx had taken no offer for his film, had released no part of it for publication in any medium.
Then on the scene
came Peter Byrne, a British adventurer and hunter who had been part of
the Tom Slick sponsored expeditions in the Himalayas and in northern California.
Byrne still had a source of financing and he and Marx came to an arrangement:
Marx would be paid a monthly retainer as a Sasquatch hunter of $750, and
his film would be placed in a bank safety-deposit box as security. Photos right: Don Byington and Ivan Marx (Marx is on the right, notice the giant size of the cripple track he holds, there were 1,089 by Dahinden's count littered around the garbage dump and elsewhere in snow.) Rene Dahinden is in top photo left squatting.
In the film the creature
brushes its head against a tree limb. The limb was located and was found
to be less than six feet from the ground, shaking Marx's estimate of nine
feet for the creature's height. And a comparative film indicated that
certain features on the Marx film could not have appeared as they did
if he had filmed from the spot he said he had filmed from and with the
equipment he said he had used. It was then established, through Peter
Byrne's persistent probing, that Marx's camera on the day of the filming
was equipped with a telephoto lense and not, as he had said, a regular
Later Marx claimed to the others that he had taken and passed a lie detector test over the incident and had passed it, but no one ever knew where or when this had occurred. René's response to the claim is a cryptic: "I'm sure he could take one any time and pass it with flying colors."
There was a sequel
to Marx's fling at cinematography in the fall of 1972. On Saturday Oct.
21 he appeared on "You Asked For It," a U.S. television show
that pursues odd and interesting items at the request of its entranced
audience. This time Marx was both the requestee and one of the subjects.
He appeared with the show's host, clutching a sealed can of movie film
of a creature he said he had photographed during a snow storm in northern
So the crippled footprints of 1969 had set in motion a chain of events that went full circle and arrived at nothing, while the prints themselves were, for the time being, virtually forgotten. The events had undoubtedly placed under a cloud the search for the Sasquatch and those few who, like René, remained seriously and honestly devoted to it.
While the Bossburg exercises provide apparently more entertainment than anything else, they are anything but irrelevant in the Sasquatch saga. For René especially they were enlightening. He saw what he had regarded for the most part as trust between a few people with a unique interest disintegrate into suspicion, deceit, and raw opportunism when the chips were down. René is an honest man and the display disgusted him. But more than that, and more important to him, if he had not been convinced before, he certainly knew now that among his colleagues gullibility increased in direct proportion to any incentive that held the shape of a dollar.
René said a great deal about his colleagues-probably without realizing it-when he told the intrepid Denny Striker at the end of one interview: "We're an exclusive group us Sasquatch hunters, largely because no one wants to join us."
Now, with the histrionics concluded, we can return to the crippled footprint, and, for the argument for its authenticity, to Napier. In Chapter 5 of Bigfoot, Napier, after a complex explanation of foot anatomy, which need not be fully pursued here, concludes that there are two kinds of Sasquatch prints, which he catalogues as the "hourglass" and the "human" types.
The "hourglass," so named because of its shape, is of the kind found at Bluff Creek, the "human" is the Bossburg print. While Napier stresses that the differences between the two walking patterns would, if both types are assumed to be genuine, indicate two species of Sasquatch, and concludes that such a possibility is beyond reason, he still is able to make a case for the validity of both. This of course presents a radical contradiction; but that is nothing new in the Sasquatch story and must wait for an answer until the whole issue is finally resolved. After explaining that the "hourglass" prints provide a strong case for acceptance because of their "persuasive consistency" and their "variability" (in that the variety of anatomical detail they display, as opposed to the uniformity one would expect from a fake, is perfectly in tune with nature) Napier says:
Here we can leave the Bossburg story and the cripple for now.
While it is encouraging that Dr. Napier conceded the possible need to rewrite established theories, his formula is very much an oversimplification, especially where the question of faked footprints is concerned. No matter how many legends and folk memories are invoked, the question would remain how the prints were faked. Napier himself stressed the virtual impossibility of someone being equipped to construct a fake such as that of the Bossburg cripple ..
© René Dahinden November, 2000 with permission
on the crippled Right footed Bossburg Tracks:
page 56 of Dr. Grover Krantz's 'Bigfoot Sasquatch Evidence' book, it was
mentioned that "some pathology" might have deformed the right
foot of our crippled individual.
These footprints, in fact, were what converted Krantz from a Sasquatch skeptic to a believer. "Before I examined these prints, I would have given you ten to one odds that the whole thing was a hoax," he says. "But there is no way that everything could have been tied together so perfectly in a fake."
have been made as to what that pathology might be, with "club foot"
being the most popular opinion. I had not the expertise, time, nor the
inclination to pursue this matter any further. Fortunately Jeff Meldrum
did have all those attributes and has provided us with the likely answer.
He researched the pertinent literature and found that _metatarsus adductus_
is almost certainly the ailment in question. This is a congenital condition,
also known as "skew foot," where both heel and forefoot are
twisted inward -- just as in our crippled footprint. _Metatarsus adductus_
usually occurs in about one per thousand children in varying degrees,
usually in just one foot, and often improves over time without treatment.
(Interestingly, in one detailed report of fifteen patients it was bilateral
in seven cases, affected only the left foot in one, and only the right
foot in the remaining seven.) In any case, the actual bones are little
affected, and they are simply forced apart as I had postulated originally.
This does not necessarily make my foot-bone reconstruction exactly accurate,
but it does at least offer some general support." The result of later
research by Dr. Jeff Meldrum makes it almost certain that Cripple Foot's
deformity was in fact due to the congenital condition metatarsus adductus
or "skew foot"
"The human-type track from Bossburg, Washington State, was first seen in October 1969 by a butcher of the name of Joe Rhodes. The sighting was reported to Ivan Marx, whose interest in the Sasquatch was well known. Marx made casts of the footprints. Subsequently in the same area Marx and Rene Dahinden discovered a set of tracks and followed them for half a mile. Rene Dahinden has told me that he counted 1,089 prints in all. The remarkable feature of the Bossburg tracks is the evidence that the Sasquatch concerned is a cripple.
The left foot appears normal, and in every respect is similar to a modern human foot-similar, that is, until one considers the matter of size. The Bossburg tracks, large even for a Sasquatch, measure 17 1/2 inches by 7 inches. Apart from satisfying the criteria established for modern human-type walking, the Bossburg prints have, to my way of thinking, an even greater claim to authenticity. The right foot of the Bossburg Sasquatch is a club-foot, a not uncommon abnormality that labours under the technical name of talipes-equino-varus. The forepart of the foot is twisted inwards, the third toe has been squeezed out of normal alignment, and possibly there has been a dislocation of the bones on the outer border (but this last feature may be due to an imperfection in the casting technique). Club-foot usually occurs as a congenital abnormality, but it may also develop as the result of severe injury, or of damage to the nerves controlling the muscles of the foot. To me, the deformity strongly suggests that injury during life was responsible. A true, untreated, congenital talipes-equino-varus usually results in a fixed flexion deformity of the ankle in which case only the forepart of the foot and toes touch the ground in normal standing. In these circumstances the heel impression would be absent or poorly defined; but in fact the heel indentation of the Sasquatch is strongly defined. I conclude that the deformity was the result of a crushing injury to the foot in early childhood.
It is very difficult
to conceive of a hoaxer so subtle, so knowledgeable -- and so sick --
who would deliberately fake a footprint of this nature. I suppose it is
possible, but it is so unlikely that I am prepared to discount it." ....John Napier
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