Bigfoot Encounters

-1966 -
"Tracker of the Big Foot, Roger Patterson
Comes to Washington's Blue Mountains"

By Vance Orchard
Published in the Union-Bulletin, Walla Walla, Washington State

September 25, 1966 -- Search for a man-like creature of gigantic proportions has reached the Blue Mountains with tracks having been seen just a few minutes drive from downtown Walla Walla, Washington State.

Roger Patterson, a short man with a tall task has been on the trail of the "Big Foot" - as the monstrous forest men are known in California and the northwest - for the past seven years; since 1959.

Following recent reports of findings of tracks on the Mill Creek Road near Tiger Creek by Peter Luther of Walla Walla, Patterson journeyed over here from his home in Yakima to try to locate the prints too.  With Luther and a companion, Prentice Beck and Patterson drove to the spot Luther had seen the huge prints, but a heavy rain had erased the evidence reported by Luther. Unbeknownst to me, our paths crossed last Sunday when I drove to the same area with son Paul.  Later, we got a chance to talk with Patterson at our home.

Search for the Big Foot (he also goes by the name "Sasquatch" in British Columbia) has been one of the major purposes for Patterson since he first read of findings of prints (tracks) and activity of the outsized man-type creature in Northern California in 1959.

Intriguing Subject

The subject is also one of the most intriguing for this writer and has captured my imagination as few other subjects.  The same 1959 magazine article was also my first introduction to the subject and interest was renewed when Ed Clark of Hermiston recently showed me a British Columbia magazine account of these sightings in B.C. Canada.

It was with much interest therefore that I ran down Luther who is a construction worker when his story was told to me by Gus Miller who works with Luther.

It was with a whale of a lot more interest that I gazed upon two plaster of Paris casts which Patterson showed me last Sunday when he visited here.  First glance of these casts, made right from the indentations in the earth, just have to erase a lot of skepticism the viewer might have.

Patterson made one of the casts from a footprints he found in northern California area when he went down there last year to the Mt. Shasta and Trinity Mountain Regions - one of the most rugged and primitive areas on the North American continent.  The other cast he made out of the hundreds of footprints he said he saw last spring in the Mt. St. Helens area of the Cascades in Washington and in California.

A first glimpse

The tracks were Patterson's first glimpse of read physical evidence of all the stories he had head from this area in the Blues and his reaction at the time is still fresh in his mind. "It was quite a shock seeing those tracks," he said.  "They were just like a man's tracks but huge, 17 inches in length, 7 inches across the ball of the foot and five inches across the heel."

Tracks found by Luther over this last Labor Day weekend were 19 inches long and 8 inches wide at the ball of the foot.

Patterson figures the depth of the impressions made by his find near Mt. Shasta would indicate a huge creature which could weigh in the 1000 to 1500 pound range.  Patterson and his companion Prentice Beck, followed the tracks for about four miles but lost then in a rocky brushy area.

A book is due

Gathering material for a book, Patterson talked to many old-timers and residents in the Trinity Mountain Alps area.  Reports were gained by him of people who had seen the creature.  Most descriptions concur that what Patterson is after is a creature which is tall, hairy and ape-like with short, powerfully built legs in proportion to a huge, massive upper body and pre-historic man-like featured face.

Following up reports of similar sightings of creature of this sort in the Mt. St. Helens region, Patterson next journeyed there.  "A giant hairy man is how this one was generally described.  His trip there took him to the east side of the mountain where the terrain is rugged and primitive with huge rock formations and canyons and hundreds of caves formed by volcanic action centuries ago.

Most Interesting

A conversation with a retired miner in that area proved one of the most interesting Patterson has gathered over the years in his search.  The miner claimed he and other members of a mining crew came into contact with such a creature at their mining camp in 1924.

"Four or more of these huge creatures stood high on the rocks above our campsite and threw big boulders down at us," the old miner said.  "For some time we hid and protected ourselves from the falling boulders and finally had to run for our lives."

Reports of the creatures have been heard as far east of the Cascades as Satus Pass according to stories told Patterson by Indians and white residents there. Patterson believes the creatures stay in high country during the summer and go into the lowlands for food and shelter from the severe winter of the high country.

Patterson already has made plans for a second trek into the Mt. St. Helens area.  What is Patterson's goal and hopes concerning this Big Foot? He said he hopes to capture one of the things to push hard for their preservation. He even predicts the capture of one soon, maybe even by himself and he hoped most fervently.

Vance Orchard 1966

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