Bigfoot Encounters

Bigfoot Did Not Die
© John Green

After the death of a man named Ray Wallace in December, 2002, surviving family members told the reporter who wrote his obituary that "Bigfoot" had also died.

Ray Wallace, they said, was Bigfoot. He, not a huge, unknown animal, had made the big tracks that were first reported in 1958 on and around a dirt road his company was pushing through the Bluff Creek valley in the northwest corner of California.

Family members agreed that they had always known about it and that Ray did it as a joke on his employees, walking around wearing a huge pair of carved wooden feet.

For proof one of them showed a photographer just such a pair of carved feet, with strap harness attached. The story was nonsense on the face of it, since everyone who had looked into the subject knew that huge bipedal tracks had been reported from all over North America starting long before Ray Wallace was born.

No matter, apparently it was just the sort of tall tale many editors were waiting to see and eager to tell. They were so sure the whole Bigfoot phenomenon had to result from fakery that they rushed into print and on the air proclaiming to the world over and over again that the whole Bigfoot thing was just one man's hoax.

Of more than 50 papers that spread the story, and even more radio and TV stations, not one bothered to check its accuracy.

Apparently none of them realized what the tracks in question were actually like, and they had no interest in finding out. Had even one of them bothered to learn all that was involved and then asked the Wallaces to show that they could duplicate it all walking around wearing the wooden feet, it would have killed the story they were having so much fun with.

I am not saying it can be proved that those tracks were not faked, or that Ray Wallace could not have been involved, but proving that many of the tracks could not possibly have been made in the way the Wallaces described would have been easy.

As the tale spread it got even more nonsensical.

The Wallaces had said, as just about every Sasquatch investigator already knew, that Ray had made fake Bigfoot photos and movies, featuring his wife wearing a fur costume. But they also said that Ray had nothing to do with the famous Bigfoot movie taken by Roger Patterson at Bluff Creek in 1967. The media fire stormed however, and eventually made Mrs. Wallace the subject of the Patterson movie, with Ray as the cameraman.

One story also had Ray sending younger members of the family as far away as British Columbia equipped with other carved wooden feet, to make all the big footprints ever seen everywhere.

And to give an aura of authenticity many of the stories called it a "deathbed confession," although the obituary made no suggestion of any such thing. It was clearly presented as something his survivors had long believed but not as a dying claim by Ray himself.

That was strange enough, but what was stranger still, the media became so caught up in shouting that the Bigfoot hoax had been exposed that they would not allow any other voice to be heard.

In two months not one newspaper would so much as have a reporter talk to someone, namely me, who told them that he had investigated the original incidents back in 1958, and had ample proof that Ray Wallace and the wooden feet could not have been responsible.

To give readers a sample of what kind of story teller Ray Wallace was, here, in part, is a message that I e-mailed to many of the newspapers that had printed the story:

"So Ray Wallace supposedly told his family that he created "Bigfoot" by walking around in California with a pair of huge carved wooden feet, and his family supposedly believed him. And the media has now told the whole world that "Bigfoot" was just Ray Wallace. Alright, but shouldn't the world also know what Ray Wallace has said of some of his other achievements?"

"Bigfoot used to be very tame, as I have seen him almost every morning on the way to work. I would sit in my pickup and toss apples out of the window to him. He never did catch an apple but he sure tried. Then as he ate the apples I would have my movie camera clipping off more footage of him. I have talked to several movie companies about selling my movies, which would last for three hours. The best offer I've had so far is $250,000." -Ray Wallace letter to the Klam-ity Kourier, Oct. 1, 1969

"Please send me your correct address. I want to send you a picture of one of the male Mt. St. Helens apes that the loggers took this spring as they were feeding apples to an old pair of BFs and the female was carrying a baby, but she never came close enough for them to get a good picture, they got some close up pictures of this 9 foot tall male, I just borrowed the negatives. I want to send all of the BF researchers a picture." -Ray Wallace letter to John Green, Dec. 2, 1984.
(I sent the address but haven't seen any pictures-nor has anyone else!)

No editor anywhere printed that information, so I tried a different approach pointing out by e-mail and in some cases also by phone that the claims made in the obituary were a far more successful hoax that any that Ray Wallace had ever carried out while he was alive, and outlining the items of physical evidence available to prove that the story was nonsense. No newspaper would discuss that either.

Demonstrations were put on for both CNN and FOX News in which their own people, walking on fiberglass copies of genuine 15" tracks, learned that deep tracks can't be made in firm sand that way, even, in the case of CNN, by two men weighing a combined 440 pounds. The TV people who actually tried it and photographed it were quickly convinced, but in each case when the brief news segments were broadcast that was not mentioned and the Sasquatch researchers were ridiculed for refusing to recognize the reality of the Wallace claims.

Finally, in an attempt to reach the public with an account of the true situation, the museum at Willow Creek, California, which has on display casts of many of the tracks involved, offered $100,000 for the first person who could demonstrate how humans could have faked them. T

hat story was sent to 800 editors but except for a few local papers that were approached directly the media ignored it completely. There was nothing new about such an offer except the amount. A $1000 challenge had been issued on TV back in 1958, with no successful takers. I have had a $5,000 offer in print for the past 25 years, with no one even enquiring.

The fact is that in the 45 years since the original "Bigfoot" story broke, no one has ever been able to demonstrate how the tracks could have been faked.

Where does Ray Wallace fit in? The men who saw the tracks were employed by his company, but he was seldom there. He was based at Willow Creek, a couple of hours from the Bluff Creek project, but his friend Ed Schillinger recalls that he was usually away somewhere trying to drum up future contracts.

Ray did have quite a reputation as a practical joker. Speculation that he had a hand (or foot) in making the tracks surfaced early on, and was by no means ignored, but on investigation was dismissed as being impossible and silly.

The problem was to figure out how anyone could have made the tracks, something that hasn't been done to this day.

Ray himself issued outraged denials, insisting, as was only common sense, that monstrous footprints showing up on his worksite were disrupting the job and costing him money.

Some time later he apparently developed a yen to share the attention Bigfoot had stirred up and began to spin his outrageous yarns.

Later still, probably after he had moved back to his old home in Washington State, he began making and selling obviously fake casts.

I used to see them at a lodge on Mount St. Helens, which also sold my books. One thing that he never did, at least in public, was to claim that he had made the Bluff Creek tracks. Had he done so he would, of course, have been called on to prove he could do it.

What about the wooden feet that the current generation of Wallaces have displayed? So far there is nothing to show when in the last 45 years they were made or by whom, and none of them match the shape of the original "Bigfoot." The best pair does match the 15-inch track found later in 1958 on a sandbar in the creek and cast by Bob Titmus.

They are somewhat crudely carved, and presumably they were made in imitation of those casts. For them to be accepted, as the originals with which the tracks were made someone would have to demonstrate how they could make imprints an inch deep in hard-packed sand and make deep, rounded toe impressions with their shallow, square-carved toes.

Were those or any of the other fake feet the Wallaces have shown ever used to make tracks that anyone accepted as genuine? It is certainly possible. This could have been done in soft mud, dirt or sand. Trying to match deep tracks in firm materials by wearing big wooden feet, however, is like trying to do it wearing snowshoes.

People who do know some of the problems involved and yet would like to believe that the tracks were faked have come up with some really far-out suggestions: the depth was achieved with false feet mounted on tractor tracks; heavy concrete feet were hauled up and down with logging cables to make tracks on the steep slopes; the long strides were made by hanging onto the back of a moving truck; Ray Wallace faked the tracks of a monster because he wanted to get out of his contract so he was trying to scare his men into abandoning the job.

The media obviously believe that possession of big fake feet that can be worn is proof that the owner has used them to perpetrate a hoax, but most of the people I know who have made them, including myself, had the opposite idea.

They were made to find out what could be done with them and what could not, and what fake footprints made with rigid, carved feet would look like. And did Ray really tell his family that he had faked all the tracks?

I had a reason not to question their claim that he did. I was once present when another notorious yarn spinner told his children and grandchildren an equally outrageous tale. I am told, however, that later his son admitted that Ray had never actually said it, they just assumed it.

As to his claim that he told Roger Patterson where to go get his movie, a description he included in a letter to another researcher made it clear that Ray did not even know where that place was or what it looked like.

Passage © John Green
From his latest book "The Best Of Sasquatch-Bigfoot" by John Green
available on the Hancock House website…

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