The Chetco County, Oregon Monster
- The Chetco Monster - sometimes called the Chetco Indian Devil
"The mining operation was a small one, employing a dozen men whose families lived in tents alongside the river. For several weeks nothing unusual happened. Occasionally garbage cans were overturned at night my marauding bears. Sometimes the beasts were so troublesome that an armed guard stood by while the loggers felled the big trees. At the campsite mothers watched their young children closely and forbade older boys and girls to play hide-and-seek in the forest. Even when they swam in the shallow river, an adult kept a sharp lookout for bears."
"Then one morning enormously large human footprints were discovered along the riverbanks. The loggers laughingly accused one another of having feet as big as chopping blocks. Everyone, from the oldest to the youngest in camp, measured his footprints against those of the unknown visitor. Since no one's feet were that large, one question was bandied about repeatedly: if those weren't a bear's tracks, whose were they?"
"Someone said there was a "wild" man living way up the river. He was an irritable old devil who threatened to shoot anyone who approached his cabin. No matter how bad the weather was he never wore a hat or boots. He was always bareheaded and barefooted."
"Barefooted? Then the tracks were his! With the mystery of the tracks happily solved, the people promptly forgot them. But several nights later the sound of eerie whistling and angry shrieks wakened them. In every tent men bounded out of bed and grabbed their guns, assuming there was a wounded bear nearby. No one lighted a lamp for fear of attracting the beast, and frightened children were warned not to cry. The spine-chilling noises went on and on. Sometimes they seemed close by, other times from the direction of the road or the river. But finally the sounds faded into the distance, and quiet returned to the dark campsite. "At daybreak the men gathered to talk. They debated whether it was a bear or mountain lion.
To satisfy themselves
and ease their families' worries, a half dozen men searched about for
bear or mountain lion tracks. They found no mountain lion spoor at all
and no fresh bear tracks. However, at the edge of the clearing beyond
the first stand of trees and dense undergrowth they came upon more of the
giant-sized human footprints. The men debated whether it was the old recluse.
Then the men had a
nasty shock. Massive unwieldy tree limbs, far too heavy for one man to
handle, had been pulled out of the tangled waste piles and either tossed
aside like match sticks or used to beat on the machinery.
"The Chetco Indians believed there were man-animals in the woods, the logger informed his friends. He had heard the story from a white man whom the Indians trusted enough to take into their confidence. They claimed that for generations they had shared their hunting grounds with fierce-looking hairy creatures that walked upright like men. The strange beings were not human, nor animal, neither friendly nor hostile. They were simply there, like every other man or wild creature, so the Indians left them alone.
"But very late on the third night the frightening sounds were once again heard faintly from far off in the woods. People jerked upright in bed. As the whistling and screaming grew louder; in every tent men pulled on their trousers and boots, and readied their guns. Obviously the night howler was coming closer and closer. "When he seemed only fifty feet away, one man took desperate action. Hastily fashioning a torch of oily rags and kindling, he set fire to it. Torch in one hand and rifle in the other, he raced into the woods.
"Meantime the man's wife called for help. Within minutes several men stumbled toward her in the darkness. They groaned when they learned that their comrade had gone into the woods alone. None hesitated to follow, but minutes passed while one dashed off to fetch a lantern and others supplied themselves with extra cartridges. Finally the party headed into the forest in the direction from which the awful sounds were heard. They had covered only a short distance when the whistling and shrieking stopped.
The men halted, and listened. There was a long silence, then an outburst of bestial yowling followed by human screams. Thinking their friend was being attacked; the men fought through the undergrowth, the man with the lantern in the lead. Moments later their comrade appeared and collapsed in their arms. At first he was too terrified to speak. His companions fired their guns to drive off the howler and then waited patiently for the poor man to gasp out the details. He said that by torchlight he had followed the line of giant-sized footprints and suddenly came upon a huge creature covered with hair.
"A bear? " No, an ape! A monstrous ape, seven or eight feet tall, two axe-handles wide across the shoulders, (one axe handle measures 25 inches in length= 50 inch wide shoulders or approximate) with beady yellow eyes and bared teeth. The torchlight must have blinded it because it stood stock-still, one hand shading its eyes. Then it let out a tremendous roar. The man hurled his torch into its face, but instead of shooting at it, the frightened man ran screaming toward camp.
"While his companions did not doubt his word, they asked anxiously if he was sure the beast was an ape. " Yes, he was positive. "It really looked like an ape? "Yes. An ape. "Did it have fangs? " You bet! "Claws? "The man said sarcastically that he hadn't stayed around long enough to study the brute. But after thinking it over, he said it had hands like a man, only twice as large and covered with hair right down to the fingernails.
"After that they all decided to return to camp. After much discussion the loggers agreed to take turns standing guard day and night until the ape was captured or shot. Two men would patrol the campsite on two-hour watches while the rest worked or slept. Since women present knew how to handle a gun, their assistance during the daylight hours was welcomed. The older boys and girls offered to gather firewood so that large fires could be kept blazing all night. "Nothing unusual happened during the day or the early night hours. But the two whose turn came about two A.M. asked the men they were to relieve to stand by. They wanted to slip into the woods and really search for the ape. "Reluctantly the one patrol agreed to stand by while their relief party set out on their ape hunt. The hunters carried a small lantern because without some light they could not follow any tracks. But they were careful to keep the light at ground level. Their rifles were loaded, and the safety catches thumbed back. Not long after, they came upon bits of charred cloth amidst a welter of huge footprints. This must be where their friend had thrown his torch at the monster.
Yes, there were his boot marks. After examining the area closely they found where the ape had turned deeper into the forest, instead of backtracking to the road. They followed gingerly step by step, over and around ferns, shrubs, outcroppings and rocks and massive tree trunks.
"What happened next could only be guessed. Apparently the apelike creature loomed before them. One man started shooting while the other put down the lantern and shot, too. "The patrol on guard at the campsite heard the volley of shots. They pounded each other happily. The hunters had killed the beast! But then they listened in mounting horror to frantic cries for help, which were drowned out by horrendous shrieks and roaring. The awful noises continued for some moments and then faded out. The silence was even more frightening to the guards.
They shouted for help and soon were surrounded by armed loggers and their wives. After a hasty explanation, all the men plunged into the woods, leaving the women to build up the fires and protect the children. The searchers shouted, swung lanterns and fired their guns so that their friends would know help was on the way. After advancing some distance they stopped briefly and called to the men. When neither responded, they fired shots. No answering shots were heard. Once more the party advanced. Before long they came upon a gruesome sight. Their friends were dead.
from bloodstains, their bodies had been slammed against tree trunks and
torn to pieces. A trail of blood-smeared footprints led off into the forest.
The beast obviously had been wounded but no man present was willing to
track it through the dark forest. Some did volunteer to gather up the
remains of their unfortunate comrades while others returned to camp for
blankets, and to break the sad news.
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