The Internet Edition of the Press-Enterprise

Saturday November 10, 2001


Bigfoot visits our mountains

I knew we had UFOs in San Bernardino County. You grow to accept them after awhile.

With all the stories of strange globes hovering over the mountains, lights tracing across the night sky at incredible speeds and outright alien abductions in the High Desert, one might suspect that the Inland Empire is a four-star rest stop in the intergalactic travel guide. Gas, food, lodging and even cattle parts.

And, if you believe the late George Van Tassel, there was at one time something of a regular landing site at Giant Rock out in Landers.

Little green men? Yeah, we got 'em. But big hairy smelly creatures that leave enormous footprints? Who knew?

I always thought Bigfoot was a phenomenon of the Pacific Northwest. But now, it seems, they may have found their way into the Inland Empire.

That's right, Bigfoot is here.

I ran across reports of local sightings on a website devoted to Bigfoot, or Sasquatch, as he is known in American Indian lore, at

The first local sighting dates back to the early 1950s. That was when patrons of the old Fontana Speedway -- an asphalt drag strip on Cherry Avenue north of Foothill Boulevard -- saw what appeared to be a "hairy, two-legged giant criss-cross an open field," the site reports.

Despite repeated sightings of the Speedway Monster during that decade, no one apparently ever got close enough to identify it clearly.

The drag strip disappeared years ago. So did reports of any Bigfoot activity in Fontana.

But, as it turns out, there are plenty of other Bigfoot sightings in Southern California. In fact, according to Bobbie Short, webmaster of the Bigfoot site, the first ever sightings of Sasquatch were here.

"Sasquatches have been reported in remote locations of Southern California since the early 1700s," Short says. "The mission padres wrote about them."

One account appeared in 1876 in a San Diego newspaper. Turner Helm's partner said the two were prospecting in different areas of Warner's Ranch when Helm saw a man covered with thick black hair, like that of a bear, but with a man's face.

"He was a man of about medium size," Helms' partner said, "and had rather fine features -- not at all like those of an Indian but more like an American or Spaniard.

"Mr. Helm spoke to the singular creature, first in English and then Spanish and then in Indian but the man remained silent. Mr. Helm called to me, but the wind was blowing so hard that I could not hear him. The wild man then turned and went over the hill and was soon out of sight."

In 1993, a camper in Barton Flats reported being awakened in the middle of the night by footsteps outside the van he was sleeping in. Suddenly the van began rocking violently. The camper yelled and the rocking stopped. When he shined his flashlight out the van window, he says he saw a figure covered with hair, walking upright like a man as it headed into the forest.

Ruth Wenstrom, spokeswoman for the U. S. Forest Service's San Bernardino office, says such reports are news to her.

"In the 11 years I've been here I've never heard any reports," she says.

Wenstrom was going to check with some long-time rangers to see if they knew anything. But I never heard back from her. Hmmmm. Another mystery.

Copyright The Internet Edition of the Press-Enterprise
Published 11/10/2001

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