Bigfoot Encounters

© Strange Magazine, No.13, Spring 1994

New Bigfoot Photo Investigation

 
Mark Chorvinsky investigates and reports on a controversial new photo from one of the Bigfoot field's most neglected and most important figures: Ray Wallace.
 
It is not common that an important new Bigfoot photograph, such as that on the facing page, comes to our attention.

This photo deserves to be the object of study, for it is part of a complex case that has been playing out for decades.

An investigation of the photograph means a trip back to the birth of Bigfoot in 1958 and a brief glance into the most holy of Bigfoot artifacts — the Patterson Bigfoot film. The photograph was sent to Strange Magazine contributing editor Mark Opsasnick, accompanied by a letter from Raymond L. (Ray) Wallace of Toledo, Washington, dated September 21, 1993. Ray Wallace wrote the following about the photograph:

"Here is a picture of a female Big Foot... I bought it, the negative, from a photographer who was up near Mt. St. Helens in March taking pictures when he saw this giant sized female sitting on a log asleep as she was so heavy with a baby inside of her that she could not move very fast, he said she would have [been] easy to capture while sleeping on this log on an old abandon[ed] loading site where they loaded out logs several years ago. He said she was just sitting out in the warm sun and went to sleep."

I have spoken to Ray Wallace and he will not divulge the name of the individual from who he claims to have purchased the photograph. Wallace has said in conversation with the author that he purchased all rights to the photograph for $10,000 1. In a letter dated "January" (postmarked January 13, 1994), however, Wallace writes: "I just sent [Ray Crowe]... a picture of a pregnant female sitting on a log asleep on a warm sunny day that I took in 1990 west of Mt. St. Helens on an old abandoned logging road..."

I contacted Ray Crowe, director for the Western Bigfoot Society based in Portland, Oregon, asking about the photograph that Ray Wallace sent him. As a result of my inquiries, Ray Crowe has provided Strange with the negative that Wallace sent him and it is indeed the negative of the photograph that Wallace sent to Mark Opsasnick. This is all the contextual information that we have at this time.

The photograph shows a Bigfoot-type "creature." The creature does not appear to have been composited into the scene.

Telltale signs of optical or computer compositing are not apparent. Therefore it is most probably not a model, painting, or composite. This would mean that the photograph is of a full-size "creature" photographed in its surroundings. The question then becomes: is the "creature" in the photograph a "real Bigfoot" or a "guy-in-a-suit?"

In a dark shot like this one there is little detail to make it possible to determine from the photograph alone if the entity depicted is a creature or a person in a suit. Therefore, the context becomes particularly important. We do not know a great deal about the photograph and have little expectation of learning much more. From what can be seen in the photograph and from what we know of its source, however, it would be prudent to focus our lens on Ray Wallace.

There at the Birth

In August 1958, the Wallace Construction Company — owned and operated by Ray Wallace — subcontracted to clear roads near the borders of Humboldt and Del Norte Counties, California. The company was creating a new road in Northern California, along the western wall of a valley that surrounds Bluff Creek, which was to be the location nine years later of the famous Patterson Bigfoot film.

A bulldozer operator named Gerald (Jerry) Crew claimed to have found a series of footprints that led to his tractor, circled it, and walked away from the machine. The 16-inch-long prints were of naked humanoid feet with a 46- to 60-inch stride — almost twice that of most people. Later print discoveries and other odd events led to the story being carried across the country via the wire services and Bigfoot was "born" and named.2,3

The connection between the case that gave birth to Bigfoot and Ray Wallace is largely ignored in Bigfoot circles. In his book Abominable Snowmen: Legend Come to Life and his article on the case in True magazine, Ivan T. Sanderson mentions Wallace in connection with the original Bluff Creek case, portraying him as the skeptical, pragmatic contractor. John Green, in Sasquatch: the Apes Among Us, devotes hundreds of pages to obscure Bigfoot-like accounts, but manages to ignore Ray Wallace completely! In Dr. Grover Krantz's book Big Footprints, Wallace is not even mentioned. Since 1958, however, Wallace has claimed to have seen Bigfoot — and many members of his clan — numerous times, and has allegedly filmed the creatures repeatedly. He also has a collection of footprint casts. Why would Wallace, the owner of so much Bigfoot footage and so many footprint casts — not to mention being an eyewitness to many alleged Bigfoot encounters — have been excluded from, or downplayed in, most of the official Bigfoot histories?

Ray Wallace: Bigfoot's First Cinematographer?

John Napier, in Bigfoot: the Yeti and Sasquatch in Myth and Reality, devotes one paragraph to Wallace, noting that it is claimed that Bigfoot has been filmed three times, initially by Ray Wallace, who says that he took his film of the creature in 1957 (prior to the first "Bigfoot" case in 1958).4 Napier points out that Wallace's claim to have filmed Bigfoot so early in the game was only announced to the press in late November 1970.

These films — if taken when claimed — predated the famous Patterson film by ten years. If some still exist, they are important visual documents in the cultural history of Bigfoot.

Ray Wallace says that he has shot thousands of feet of Bigfoot film footage. Figures have varied from 6,000 to 15,000 feet of 16mm film. This amounts to hours of footage, which includes Bigfoot throwing stones, eating frogs, and so forth. Wallace maintains that his films, photos and tapes are authentic.

The Patterson Connection

In Bluff Creek, California on the afternoon of October 20, 1967, a rodeo rider named Roger Patterson and his partner Bob Gimlin filmed a Bigfoot, an event hailed by many as the single most important event in Bigfoot history and proof that the creature exists. This footage is one of the pillars of belief for the existence of Bigfoot. Ray Wallace, in conversation with the author, has said that he told Roger Patterson exactly where to go to shoot his film on that fateful day. Did Wallace, who was held in high esteem by Roger Patterson, know of Patterson and Gimlin's agreement that they would not shoot at a Bigfoot if they found one! 5

The superficial resemblance of the Bigfoot in the photograph to that in the Patterson film should be of some interest. Both the Patterson Bigfoot and the Bigfoot in the Wallace photograph are said to be females, both are rather bulky (as opposed to the "creatures" in most known hoax footage), and both have a head that is somewhat pointed.

A Role Worthy of Attention

Ray Wallace, now 75, prefers to stay behind-the-scenes these days. He is not out to make money on his photographs or films, or to get publicity. A successful and generous individual, he has given away hundreds of Bigfoot photographs and posters to students internationally and has owned a free petting zoo full of rare animals, for the benefit of children. Ray's association with Bigfoot is a big part of his life — enough so that Bigfoot put in an appearance at his fiftieth wedding anniversary party. Raymond L. Wallace is an interesting and unusual individual who has been marginalized out of the generally accepted history of Bigfoot.6 Yet he was not only "there at the birth" but also believes that he may have taken the first Bigfoot movie footage. The facts that "Bigfoot's birth" and the taking of the Patterson film were both in Wallace's "backyard" are worthy of our attention.

Bigfoot expert Mark Opsasnick, author of The Bigfoot Digest, opines that, "If one does objective research into the origin of Bigfoot, it is obvious that the role Wallace played in the creation and development of Bigfoot cannot be ignored. He was there when the term 'Bigfoot' originated in 1958 as an important player in the case surrounding Jerry Crew, and Roger Patterson consulted with him repeatedly. This is a fact ignored by the contemporary Bigfoot investigators." Opsasnick concludes that, "It is quite conceivable that if there had been no Ray Wallace, there would be no Bigfoot as we know it today.

We look forward to seeing other Bigfoot photographs and films taken by Ray Wallace, a man who has had a pivotal behind-the scenes role in the unwritten history of America's favorite hairy man- monster.

Notes

1. Ray Wallace, conversation with the author, 19 October 1993.
2. The term "Bigfoot" was coined in late August 1958, when the Humboldt Times in Eureka, California ran a cover story on the huge footprint found at Ray Wallace's northern California construction site. It is hard to imagine, but at that time, the thought of a man-monster in California was so bizarre and unexpected that in his 1961 Abominable Snowmen: Legend Come to Life, Ivan T. Sanderson wrote, "In 1958 I received a number of reports of an ABSM [Abominable Snowman] in California. At first, this sounded quite balmy even to us — and we are used to the most outrageous things..." Elsewhere, Sanderson wrote, "This [account] I frankly refused to believe, mostly because I rather naturally assumed that the location as given (California) must have been a complete error or misquote. It is all very natural to have abominable creatures pounding over snow-covered passes in Nepal and Tibet... But, a wild man with a 16-inch foot and a 50-inch stride tromping around California is a little too much to ask even Californians to accept." Yet accept it they did and in the last 35 years this "balmy" notion has become a star of the cryptozoological menagerie.
3. I would be remiss not to note that, according to The Humboldt Times, the Humboldt sheriff's office investigated the series of sightings and other strange occurrences surrounding Wallace's road crew, and, allegedly made accusations that Roy Wallace, one of Ray's two brothers, had "perpetrated a hoax on his own construction job." Roy Wallace objected strongly to this accusation, arguing that he would hardly want to sabotage his own job. (The Humboldt Times, 14 October 1958).
4. John Napier, Bigfoot: the Yeti and Sasquatch in Myth and Reality (New York: E.P. Dutton, 1973), pp. 83-84.
5. Roger Patterson describes meeting with Ray Wallace in Patterson's Do Abominable Snowmen of America Really Exist! (Yakima, Washington: Franklin Press, 1966), pp. 63-64.
6. For more information about Ray Wallace, see the author's November 1993 Fate column.

Strange Magazine, No.13

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