"Have you seen the phantom? No one else has, either, and Farmington historians
say story is a mystery"
Byline: Cynthia Thomas
Standard-Examiner Davis Bureau
FARMINGTON -- It's Halloween-a time when you're likely to see ghosts, goblins, other frightfulfigures-or the Farmington Phantom.
The Farmington Phantom? Yes, you read correctly, but the phantom is turning out to be just that-a figure that literally doesn't exist.
A general consensus of local historians, researchers, librarians and others who know much about the history of Farmington are saying the same thing: They've never heard about it.
A publication by author John Burrows (unknown to local historians and researchers) states that this phantom of a ghost was known to haunt parts of east Farmington along an old trail that started west of Old Canyon Road and continued into the outskirts of Pioneer Park on Lagoon property. There reportedly were several sightings of the phantom since the first one was recorded in 1881, when word spread across Davis County that a man by the name of Samuel Morgan allegedly reported seeing this phantom. There were earlier sightings of the phantom, but 1881 was the first recorded one. Subsequent sightings were reported in 1908 and 1935.
According to excerpts from Burrows' story, the phantom could always be heard galloping on a horse, but never clearly seen. One person who allegedly saw the phantom described it as a dark figure that had either no head or a face, rode a horse and always appeared to vanish. In another excerpt, the phantom is described as a man who disappeared on a horse in a flash. If anyone should know about this phantom, it should be Irene Olsen. The 84-year-old has lived in Farmington all her life, and says it simply isn't so. "Someone has a vivid imagination," said Olsen, who lives not far from the trail Olsen is a member of the Helen Mar Miller Camp-Daughters of Utah Pioneers, the group that helped put out the book "My Farmington 1847-1976." The book, by Margaret Steed Hess, makes no mention of such a phantom. "As long as I've lived here, I've never heard of such a thing," she said.
A search by local library staffs in Davis County on numerous books on the history of Utah and Farmington, folklore and superstition so far has turned up fruitless. Dick Andrew, director of marketing at Lagoon Camp, knows nothing about the legend, either. "I've never heard of it, and I've been here a long time." As for how the newspaper got a copy of Burrow's story? It mysteriously appeared Tuesday morning in the mail slot accompanied by an unsigned letter asking a reporter to look into whether or not it was true.
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Bigfoot big news in South Weber
Byline: Linette Gamboa
Standard-Examiner Davis Bureau
SOUTH WEBER -- It was 15 years ago a large creature with strange hair reportedly visited South Weber. No, not Dennis Rodman. Bigfoot.
For one week in February 1980 residents reported seeing, smelling and discovering signs of the legendary Sasquatch. But the experience must not have been a pleasant one for the Northwest native. He hasn't been back. Still, the incident has become folklore in this small Davis County community.
As legend goes, the beast was first sighted by Pauline Markham. Markham claimed she eyed the dark, hairy creature at 2:30 p.m. as it walked upright swinging its arms near the Weber-Davis Canal. The next day, Ronald Smith encountered the creature outside his home. Smith said he came home from work after a late swing shift and saw and heard the thing in the moonlight as he tried to feed his horses shortly after midnight. The next morning, Smith tracked the footprints in the snow and by calculating from the trees, assumed the creature was nine feet high. These were the only people who saw Bigfoot in South Weber, but numerous others found evidence of its presence, according to "South Weber History," a book compiled by local historian Lee Bell.
For instance, there were the tracks in the snow -- two sets. One large set that measured 15 inches long and seven feet apart, with another smaller set alongside it, as if the two beasts were walking hand in hand. Then there was the case of the stolen stew. Myrna Ray had burnt a kettle of stew and placed the pot on her back porch to cool. The next day, Ray found the heavy pot in the garden, about 300 yards from the porch, licked clean with large footprints around it. "It got everybody stirred up," Ray said. "They swear it was Bigfoot, they swear it was. They had all the trackings." Two boys traced the smaller tracks to a barn that was sectioned off by a barbed wire fence. On the fence, they found clumps of hair. The boys apparently took the hair strands to the Weber State College crime lab in Ogden and it was last reported by local newspapers that the hair could not be identified, said Sterling Gardner, who was a judge at the time. Gardner and his wife experienced the Bigfoot phenomena just by a nose. "We had a terrible smell outside the house and our dogs were barking all night long," Annette Gardner said. "It was like something was dead." It was a smell that the Gardners had never experienced and have never smelled since then.
The smell permeated through many homes and neighborhoods, the way a skunk smell seeps through any structure. It was reportedly one of the telltale signs that Bigfoot was near.
With these reports and a few others, a mini frenzy occurred. Schoolchildren would excitedly talk about looking for Bigfoot. Those who experienced seeing, hearing or finding evidence of the creature appeared on the TV news, talked on radio shows and were quoted in the newspapers. Bigfoot hunters from Oregon and Washington converged on the small Northern Utah town. People started locking their doors. Children wouldn't go out at night. Animals acted strangely.
But it wasn't all fun and excitement. An uneasiness settled in the town. "It's kind of an eerie feeling. To know that something that we didn't really know what it was, was here," said City Treasurer Kathy Poll. There are many theories as to Bigfoot's origins, Bigfoot from the Sherpa folklore of the yeti, to the Canadian. According to Bell's book, some Mormons believe Bigfoot isactually Cain, of the Old Testament's Cain and Abel, who is actually walking the Earth as a punishment from God. The entire South Weber incident of Bigfoot fever only lasted a week, but the legend will last a lifetime.
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Transmission from Ogden, Utah Publishing Editorial System