SAGA Magazine July 1969

"America's Terrifying Woodland Monster-men"
By Warren Smith

At one time, their stomping grounds were virtually impenetrable forests in the Western Mountain States, but lately these wild half-man hand beast creatures have been spotted in Michigan, California, Missouri, Tennessee, Mississippi and Florida - scaring the hell out of hunters, picnickers and campers who suddenly come face to face with these weird ape-like beings. "I was so terrified I couldn't even blink my eyes," is the way that Harold E. Nelson of suburban Los Angeles described his frightening encounter with the wild hair half man half beast known as the abominable snowman. [ABSM]The eerie experience occurred when Nelson, a retired businessman, left California to visit his relatives in upstate New York.

"I drive around the country a lot so I bought a pickup with a camper on the back," Nelson related. "On the evening of September 11, 1968, I pulled off the highway just outside Billings, Montana. It was a lonely place to spend the night." Nelson articles/saga1969had been driving since early morning so he skipped his usual hot meal.

" I opened a can of pork and beans and was munching on a few crackers when I heard a racket outside the camper," he continued. "I was going to investigate when the noise stopped. I figured it was a small animal of some sort. I dismissed the incident because you can get spooked when you're camping out. I had left my pipe in the pickup cab so I picked up the flashlight and opened the door…"

Harold Nelson will always remember those few minutes. "I was frozen with terror," he said, still shaken by the experience. I was face to face with a yeti, a snowman or whatever you want to call those things!"Later, Nelson described the creature. "It had an apelike face but it was definitely not a gorilla," he explained. "The head was slightly pointed, sloping down like the sketches of cavemen. The whole body was covered with a reddish-brown hair. There were a few spots of white hair along the edge of the enormous shoulders. It stood erect, like a man, and must· have weighed 600 or 800 pounds. He was big--real big."The elderly grocer was stunned with fear. "My mind just short-circuited. I couldn't think," he stated. "My flashlight was shining on the beast and I remember very distinctly that the eyes shined in the beam, like a wild animal. It, made a funny noise, sort of like a gargle and whistle at the same time. The thing reached toward me. That's when I screamed."Fortunately, Nelson's terrified scream frightened the intruder. "He stepped back, looked puzzled and then frowned," Nelson said. "I raced back to my bed and got a .22 caliber pistol from beneath my pillow. I expected the beast to come tearing into the camper. It moved forward, peered curiously into the doorway, then turned and shuffled off into the darkness."

The frightened camper trembled as he watched the beast cross a small creek and disappear into a cluster of trees. "I am very grateful that I did not have to use the gun," Nelson said. "The bullets would never have stopped him.

Then, I got to thinking that maybe he was not running away, but was going to get some of his friends. I set a speed record getting my pickup out of there. I was still shaking when I pulled into a small town gas station and started talking with an attendant."The gasoline station employee was not alarmed by the report. "He said other motorists going through had seen these beasts along the highways," Nelson said. "I decided not to report the incident. The police would say it was a bear, the attendant told me."

Nelson is convinced he encountered a species of those mysterious creatures known as Abominable Snowmen. "I get around the country and plenty of people are seeing these things," Nelson declared firmly. "I won't camp along an isolated highway anymore." Harold Nelson, like many other people, is convinced that Abominable Snowmen are real.An avalanche of reports of recent encounters with these half-men, half-beasts have puzzled the authorities in dozens of countries.

We can now assume that a specimen will soon be captured. A hunter may zero in on a shadowy figure in some marshy swamp and blast down an Abominable Snowman. Or, some well-equipped scientific expedition will finally capture one of these elusive creatures. This month, this year, certainly in the very near future, one of these primitive beasts will become a front-page reality!Dead or alive, the specimen of a snowman will trigger a boiling scientific controversy.

Many notable scientists have looked at the movie film of a snowman taken by ex-rodeo rider Roger Patterson. In recent years, the Yakima; Wash., monster-hunter launched several unsuccessful searches into the western wilderness. Then, at 3:30 p.m., Oct. 20, 1967, Patterson and Bob Gimlin were in the great forest north of Eureka, Calif. They sighted a strange, hair-covered beast walking upright through the timber. Patterson grabbed his movie camera and zoomed in as the creature moved away.

The result is a highly controversial roll of 16mm. · color movie film. A biologist from the Smithsonian Institute said he "observed nothing that would point directly to a hoax." His colleagues, American and Canadian scientists, viewed the film with cautious bewilderment. "It is as hard to believe the film could be faked as to admit the creature exists," reported Dr. Don Abbott, an anthropologist with the Provincial Museum in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada."

An actual body of one of these creatures, or a living specimen, would be shattering to science," a noted scientist informed SAGA. "It would create wholesale confusion in several areas of science. Biology, anthropology, and even history would have to be revised. Textbooks would have to be rewritten. I wish someone would drag in one of these things. The turmoil would be terrific."

Science would not be the only casualty. There will be some puzzling legal problems. The law does not accurately define a human being. We have no legal precedents as to what sum of bone, blood, nerves and brains constitute Homo sapiens. Would the Snowman be considered an animal, and. therefore liable to be trapped, caged and exhibited in a zoo? Or, would it be judged as some form of human being and subject to the laws that apply to every citizen? "I think about the legal aspects a lot," reported 68 year-old Harold Nelson. "What would have happened if I had shot that Montana Snowman? The thing is definitely part human. Would it have been murder?" If the law declared the Snowman to be an animal, then the ownership of these creatures as property would be permissible." Some shrewd businessman would try to breed and train them to perform menial tasks," Nelson theorized. While this may sound like fantasy, the Russians claim to have already done so!

Dr. Jeanne-Marie-Therese Koffman, a Russian physician, delivered her report on Abominable Snowmen to a 1967 meeting of the Russian Geological Society. Nicknamed "the Abominable Koffman" by her colleagues, the Russian scientist told of her five-year search for the Agachikishi, as Snowmen are called in the USSR. She informed the assembled scientists that 219 people had sighted Snowmen during nine expeditions into the isolated areas of her country.

Even more interesting was a report from Dr. Koffman that a farmer in the Caucasus Mountain Range had successfully trained a Snowman to perform chores on the farm. The story is fragmentary; however, the farmer apparently discovered a starving snowman and the creature became very docile when the farmer fed him." The beast became something of an interesting pet," the report stated. "He followed the farmer around the farm when chores were done, and quickly learned to perform some of the simpler tasks.

Eventually, the farmer taught his hairy hired hand to drive a tractor. The beast was very proficient in handling the tractor but was unable to learn how to start the machine."There are persistent rumors from Russia that the Soviet scientific establishment has captured a live Snowman.

The creature is reportedly being examined in Moscow in a top-secret project. Some credence can be given to this possibility because there have been an untold number of sightings in the Caucasus Mountains over the last several hundred years.

The Agachikishi, Kaptar, Mesheadam and the Almasty are regional names in various parts of the USSR for the Abominable Snowman. Each year, there are hundreds of confrontations with Snowmen behind the Iron Curtain and communist scientists have launched a worldwide investigation.

If the thought of Snowmen trained to toil for farmers seems farfetched, the alternate possibility of these creatures being judged human would be equally: staggering. "You imagination wouldn't have to stretch too far to see some fascinating political problems if Snowmen are real," an attorney declared. "

As a human, they would have the same rights as any other citizen. This would include the right to vote, own property, enter into legal contracts and, of course, be responsible for their acts."The attorney reflected for a moment. 1 then laughed aloud. "The government would undoubtedly decide they were wards of the state," he chuckled. "The politicians would create another government bureau to manage their affairs. Some politician would start thinking about the Snowman vote and we would have another poverty program!"

One of the most startling phenomena connected with the most recent sightings in North America has been the locality of the encounters. Traditionally, past glimpses of these mysterious creatures have occurred primarily in isolated mountain ranges. The "Oh-mahs" and the "Big Feet" prowled the western mountains while their cousins, the Sasquatch, roamed British Columbia and s western Canada. It appeared that these families, or tribes of Snowmen liked the lush vegetation of the forest and the security of mountains.

Then, in the late 1950s, a rash of reports occurred in Missouri, Florida, Michigan and even arid desert areas. Game wardens and conservation officers in several northern midwestern states claim the Canadian Snowmen are migrating southward.In the summer of 1965, a hairy monster that terrorized residents during that summer panicked Monroe County, Michigan.

Teen-aged Christine Van Acker and her mother, Rose Owens, declared a man-like beast attacked them when their automobile stalled on a lonely highway. Dozens of frightening reports poured in from other residents who claimed to have experienced unnerving encounters with the creature.

articles/saga1969A migrant worker claimed to have battled a Snowman when the beast attempted to kidnap a young woman. Another sighting occurred on the evening of Nov. 8, 1966, when William and James Cagle were driving toward Marietta, Ga., from their home in Oklahoma. They braked their truck to negotiate a sharp curve in the highway near Winona, Miss.

As the vehicle slowed down, one of the huge creatures rushed down the slope toward the truck."When my headlights picked him up, he was on our left side," James Cagle wrote. "He was aggressive, angry and ready to attack. Personally, I don't believe he was angry with my brother or me.

When I was out in northern California I heard these things dislike noise. He may have wanted to destroy my truck because the sound may have disturbed his sensitive ears."

The creature was no more than 20 feet from us when we slowed down to seven or eight miles per hour," James Cagle continued. "The face looked like a mixture of a gorilla and a human. The arms and legs were very large. The chest was at least three feet thick. His eyes glowed in the dark and did not seem to have pupils."It looked us over, then slowly raised an arm like the Indians do when they greet someone."

James Cagle reported, "I had seen all that I wanted. I floor boarded the accelerator and we moved out of there."James Cagle is convinced the Snowmen are scattered around America today. "They seem to hate noise so they may not come too close to a city," he summed up. "I do know that no .38 or .45 bullet could have stopped the one we saw. Anyway, they should not be killed except in self-defense because I am positive they are part human."

A mountaintop meeting with a hairy creature in another southern state shook Brenda Ann Adkins. "I drove up to Monteagle Mountain, north of Chattanooga, Tennessee early last spring and stopped to take some color pictures of the scenery. I left my camera in the car and walked along the cliff edge to find a spot to take a few pictures. I was staring over the mountain when there was a noise in the woods behind me. I also smelled a very strange odor, almost nauseating, as if something had died."The 19-year-old girl turned and saw the creature stomp out of the brush and lumber toward her. "I was absolutely frozen with fear. This thing was at least seven feet tall and must have weighed several hundred pounds," she declared. "I'll never forget his enormous chest, and those huge arms and legs. His body was completely covered with a blackish-red hair. The face was a mixture of an ape and a human."Just like the perils of a movie heroine, the young woman was trapped on the cliff ledge.

The beast was between her and her automobile. "I still have nightmares about that afternoon." Miss Adkins related. "He seemed to be angry and was growling. I thought he would push me off the cliff or something. Then, he stopped about six feet from where I stood, cocked his head in a quizzical way and just stared at me. He studied me for a few moments, then seemed to smile, made a little blubbering noise and walked back into the brush!" The young woman dashed to her car and drove to the town of Monteagle, on top of the mountain." I stopped at the restaurant there. I was shaking so badly that I spilled coffee on my dress." she said." A man asked if I needed help. I told him the story and he said it was probably a bear. I agreed with him because I was almost in shock. He probably thought I was a little crazy." The young woman has returned to the mountain on two other occasions, hoping to see the beast again and obtain a photograph. "My father works in Chattanooga and he accompanied me," Miss Adkins explained. "He carried a big deer rifle, but I don't think a rifle would stop one of those monsters." Miss Adkins was very fortunate. There are accounts in every country of women being abducted by these half-men, half-animals; the folklore of Indian tribes in several parts of North America contains tales of these bizarre kidnappings.

One such experience allegedly occurred during the last century when a 17-year-old Indian girl was captured by a snowman when her tribe camped in the Harrison Lake district of British Columbia." Old Annie never quite lived down that tragedy. She was compelled to live with the young male Sasquatch, and his parents,'' said Gordon Nicholson, an enthusiastic Canadian monster hunter. Nicholson has spent six years gathering information on Canada's "Wild Men of the Forests." "The legend says that Annie was kidnapped and carried to a smelly cave on a mountain just south of Harrison Lake. Annie managed to escape from the Sasquatch family after several months of captivity. She wandered in the forest for several days and was delirious and half-starved when she reached civilization.'' Nicholson adds, "The old woman died several years ago so there is no way to prove the story. However, there are persistent legends about Indian women being carried away by these fellows in my country of Canada, and down in California and the northwestern states. Many of the old newspapers contain stories of 'wild men' who lurked in the woods. I think these may have been the Sasquatch."

Gold prospectors and treasure hunters frequently seek their lost bonanzas in isolated areas. Since 1964, treasure hunters in the Borrego Valley desert in California have whispered about "the Abominable Sandmen of Borrego." The arid area is near the Mexican border, it is virtually uninhabited. There are many fissures, caves and crevasses in the Superstition Mountain region and prospectors say the Cocopah Indians have told of a subterranean labyrinth under the mountain, Maj. Victor Stoyanow was seeking an access into the Superstition Hills in January 1964, when he noticed large, humanoid tracks in the sand dunes. "The prints ran in pairs, generally parallel and averaged about 14 inches in length and nine wide at the instep," Major Stoyanow declared. He returned to the desert on several other occasions, made plaster casts of the prints, and snapped photographs." Curious as I am, I hope that the person who discovers what kind of beast it is doesn't happen to be me." Major Stoyanow said after his thorough investigation into the tracks.

The San Diego Union ran an unverifiable article some years ago of a "sandman" that was shot by hunter Frank Cox at Deadman's Hole, near Warner, California in San Diego County. The beast was described as a cross between "a man and a bear." The head was rather small, with protruding teeth and powerful jaws. The muscular creature had feet that measured 24 inches in length and the body weight was estimated to be 400 pounds. Harold Lancaster, treasure hunter, was prospecting in the Borrego Sink, east of the settlement of Borrego Springs. California in July 1968, when he saw a "sandman." "I was camped up on a mesa one morning when I saw a man walking in the desert," he reported. "The figure came closer. I thought it was another prospector. Then, I picked up my binoculars and saw the strangest sight in my life."It was a real giant ape man," Lancaster said. "I had heard about the screaming giant ape man up in Tuolumne County that frightened people for a couple of years. Another person and I even went up there to look for the thing. I decided it was a hoax and never expected to actually see one."

As the "sandman" drew closer, Lancaster became worried. "That thing was big. I was no match for it," he reported. "I had a .22 pistol on my hip but it would have been like shooting at a gorilla with a pea shooter. I was afraid the beast might get too close. So, I fired a couple of rounds into the air. The sandman jumped a good three feet off the ground when the sounds of the shots reached him. He turned his head, looked toward me and then took off running in the other direction!"Why didn't Lancaster shoot the alleged sandman? "I was afraid," he admitted. "They should be protected. They're a form of a human, a primitive species. It would be murder to kill one. They should be studied."In recent years the midwestern states have also caught the "Snowman fever." There have been a rash of reports around Fremont, Wisconsin.

Last December a group of 12 deer hunters were moving through a swamp near the town when three members of the group saw what they described as an "unknown animal." They were no more than 200 yards from the beast. It rose to a full height of seven feet, waved its arms as if in anger and glared at the hunters.Game wardens investigated the report. Conservation Officer Larry McKevitt said he believed the hunters were sincere "but their description might be the result of an over-active imagination."There have been similar reports of "ape men" lurking in the swamplands and forests of rural Wisconsin. The northern half of the state is still relatively isolated. Hunters and farmers are the most frequent sighters. However, most sightings reported are quickly dismissed by game wardens, conservation officials or law enforcement agencies."If there is a tribe of ape men roaming around in the swamps, why doesn't someone shoot one of the beasts and drag the carcass into town?" asked an indignant State Police official when queried by SAGA on the Wisconsin reports.

Across the Mississippi River in northern Iowa and southern Minnesota is an area known as "Little Switzerland." Steep hills, dense woodlands and hidden valleys and hollows run for vast stretches between the towns. Motorists who travel this area at night have reported eerie encounters with weird "ape men" along the highways.It was near midnight several months ago when Larry Hawkins. an Iowa student, drove along Highway 52, south of Rochester, Minn. He was headed for Decorah, Iowa. Suddenly, his car headlights focused on a figure crouching beside the highway. "I thought the person was in trouble," said the student. "I braked down and pulled onto the shoulder. Then I saw that this thing certainly wasn't a human, as we define the term."The creature was ape-like in appearance, with thick shoulders and covered with hair. It leaped from its crouching position, left the roadside and ran up a steep hill into the woods."I got out of the car and saw that it had been crouched over a dead rabbit," Hawkins reported. "I picked up the dead carcass. There were no signs of blood so the creature had not killed the rabbit with its teeth."As the young man was examining the rabbit in the beam from his headlights, a sudden harsh roar sounded in the darkened woods. "The creature must have thought I was stealing its dinner," he explained. "I wasn't going to argue about it. I leaped into my car and didn't stop until I got to a police station.""They dismissed the report as a bad joke, saying I had probably been drinking.'' Hawkins said bitterly.

A man who drove an early morning truck route to Rochester, Minn., from northern Iowa was also dismayed with he claimed to see "monkey-men" along the highways. His frequent reports provided considerable amusement for his fellow workers. They chided the truck driver for "always seeing those crazy things out there. You must be nipping at some bourbon.'' "I swear those monkey-men are real," he insisted. "No one will believe me."The tragic finale came at 4:30 a.m. one morning when the driver ran his truck off the road. He was killed in the crash. His stunned co-workers soberly recalled his reports about the "monkey-men" who lurked along the highway. "I guess the monkey-men got him," a shaken friend said. "He was always telling how these things would sometimes stand right in the middle of the road. I figure he swerved to miss one and crashed."There have been reports of sightings from many communities along the Mississippi River, several centered around Winona. Minnesota. Canada's Sasquatch may have gradually drifted south for food and a warmer climate. A vast marshland extends down from Canada into the Upper Mississippi Valley. Outside of these watery marshes are some of the most productive farms in the world. Farming has been mechanized and open corncribs are quite common on most farms in the Midwest. "The entire area is a giant cafeteria for animals." according to experts. "The new machinery for combining corn is fast and efficient but small portions of the grain are left in the field." The Snowmen would probably find this discarded grain very appetizing.The wild game count has also mushroomed during the past few years in the Midwest. Deer and other wild animals are coming down from Canada and moving into the swamplands.

In recent winters, the deer population has been so heavy in some parts of the Midwest that many have starved for lack of winter forage. "The increased game would make the Midwest attractive for a group of sub-humans," a game warden admitted.The truth about the Abominable Snowmen will be discovered when science obtains a dead body, or a live specimen. Professor Boris Porchnev, a leading authority, advises a calm attitude toward the subject. However, the thought that a group of sub-human creatures have thrived in our forests, unknown to science, staggers the imagination. It will be one of the great stories of this century when the elusive Snowman finally becomes a reality.

© SAGA Magazine 1969
Credit Source: Tom Cousino
Scanned Text by Bobbie Short
Article also courtesy Ron Schaeffer's Creature Chronicles July 2009

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