1880 - Colorado-Wyoming Line RR
U.S./Canadian Border to Eads, Colorado
My name is Rita Swift. I live in Orange County. California.
In 1945, my great
grandfather George Kuhn told me a story about the time his train hit a large
ape creature and bent the cowcatcher on his train. This was in the 1880's
and he was the engineer on a train
that ran along the borders of the U S and Canada. It was night, and all of
a sudden their train hit something and they stopped the train, because the
cowcatcher was dragging on the tracks. At first they thought it was a
moose, but when they all got out with their lanterns, they discovered this
huge smelly ape, hung up in the catcher. They had only lanterns for light,
and they were in a forest, basically in the middle of nowhere. It took most
of the crew to pick it up and lift it into an open flat car. They
noticed it was structured differently from a gorilla or ape, and smelled so
bad; the crew got the smell on them. They left it in flatcar, because it
took at least 2 hours to straighten out the cowcatcher.
Good thing my great grandfather was also a blacksmith. They were at least 2
hours from the next water tower and station of sorts. The brakeman noticed
Indians sneaking around in the forest, but he thought they had disappeared.
When they were ready to go, the crew checked on their smelly passenger, but
he was gone. They looked for tracks and decided the Indians had dragged it
away into the forest and across a stream. They found the tracks and pieces
of hair and of course the smell. They washed up in the stream and were glad
to get rid of it. The smell had even remained in the flat car. My great
grandfather took pieces of the hair back, and gave it to a doctor he knew in
Michigan. They had all decided the creature had escaped from a circus or
sideshow. Great grandfather thought it was 8 feet tall and weighed at least
500 lbs. It took six men to carry it off the tracks.
When my daughter was a student at California State University at Fullerton
in 1986, I met a Professor of Anthropology. The reason I was there was I
donated Indonesian Fighting Swords to her dept. They were very old and had
belonged to my late husband. I just didn't feel comfortable having them in
my home anymore. I noticed in her office she had information on the walls
about Big Foot. I told her the story and she believed it
was documented. My great grandfather said the ape had a different face than
what he remembered of a gorilla. He said the teeth were like humans, but extremely
wide and large. The body hair was thick dark brown, with light tipping and
the eyes were large and dark. He said they agreed it was male because of
Grandfather continued as a railroad engineer on the Colorado Wyoming Line
until he retired in 1925. He fought off outlaws with his six-shooter from
the cab. I have a photo of Grandfather with the crew, stopped in Eads
Colorado, with a large cannon hole in the side of the engine. This was in
1898, when some outlaws on horses pulled up an old Confederate cannon along
the tracks, and fired at the engine. The crew chased them away, but left the
train damaged. They were on their way to Durango carrying bank
money from Denver.
Grandfather would never tell stories that were not true.
He was a devout Methodist, and said his prayers so loud every night the
whole house could hear him.
He had originally come from Amish in Mercer Co. Pa., but
left to fight for the Union in the Civil War. His father did not accept his
decision, and he never returned to Mercer Co. He was born in 1845 and died
in 1947, in Claremont California.
Thank you, Rita Swift
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