One of the fun things about history is it has so many little nuggets of fun hidden around — the modern term is “Easter eggs,” things hidden to stumble across.
Historians should tell more folks about these, because they are one of the things that make history fun. And history SHOULD be fun — it is where all the drama, anger, sorry, misery, victory and hilarity of life is stored. History classes that only drone on about presidents and bankers and the crusades put students to sleep.
But tell them about Bigfoot?
Which brings me to my discovery recently of a file on Bigfoot in the recently uncovered archives of the Standard-Examiner, which that esteemed newspaper recently donated to Weber State University. The Union Station Foundation’s archive and library works very closely with WSU’s Special Collections, so I have no hesitation to pass this wonderful Easter Egg along.
On Aug. 25, 1977, the Standard-Examiner carried a story by outdoors reporter Bert Strand that said a couple of locals had sighted Bigfoot up in the High Uintahs west of Mirror Lake.
I should note here that I knew Bert Strand. He was a long-time reporter at the S-E, nobody’s fool, but also someone who, I am sure, enjoyed a fun story. Whether he believe the reports of Bigfoot he was reporting, I have my doubts, but he did cover all the bases.
In the first story he wrote:
“Jay Barker of 1350 E. 2600 N., who has hunted big game animals for years in the area, said the creature was estimated at being 10 feet tall.
“He said it was covered with a white mangle of hair over its shoulders and half-way down its huge body. The lower portion of the creature was dark colored, said Mr. Barker, who said after it spied his party it ambled off on its hind legs.”
Barker was out with his two sons, aged 12 and 6, and had hiked to the top of the ridge between Pass Lake and Cuberant Basin. There they met Larry Beeson, also of North Ogden, who was with his three sons. They first spied the creature half a mile below them, standng near a small Alpine lake.
At first, Barker said, they thought it might be an elk, but then a couple of the young boys kicked rocks loose, and the creature turned and looked.
“What are we looking at?” said an amazed Mr. Beeson. The creature turned and walked away, but they watched it for four minutes. They insisted they got a good look at it, it stood and walked away on its hind legs, it wasn’t a bear.
They were unable to find clear tracks but were too excited and scared to hike back out, so they spent the night.
“Evidence” quickly mounted. A local sheepherder said his sheep were strangely
afraid of that area.
He also said, strangely enough, this was the first year he hadn’t seen coyotes in the area. What more proof do you need?
Wildlife officials said the descriptions sure sounded like a grizzly bear to them, but who cares what they think?
Here’s a coincidence: Four more residents suddenly “remembered” that they’d seen Bigfoot the previous June also in the High Uintahs, although 20 miles from where the previous sighting was.
The National Bigfoot Association in Oregon sent out its experts. More reports of “strange growling and howling” in the area were reported. Someone found a dead rabbit that seemed to have been skinned. When Barker, of North Ogden, went back to the area, he said there was a “strange smell present throughout the area.”
Was it there? An actual search party went out, on horseback, and looked fr two days, scouring 10 square miles in the Cuberant Basin area the critter was seen. Jerry Dahlberg, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, said they didn’t see anything — no footprints, no scat, no nothing.
All of Bert’s stories on this contain the obligatory paragraph from state Wildlife officers saying “the initial description of the animal fits the description of a grizzly bear,” noting only that a grizzly that far from Yellowstone Park would be rare, but not impossible.
Is that what all those folks saw? No clue — this was only one of many many Bigfoot sightings around the US in that year, and every year.
They still happen. In 2016 the Provo Daily Herald carried a story about an alleged sighting, complete with video, in the Payson area. Click HERE to view, and decide for yourself.
And good luck deciding — Is it just me or is the most amazing thing about Bigfoot is that it/he/she manages to never, ever, be seen by someone who has a good camera and knows how to use it? No, it’s always someone taking blurry unfocused images while running and shouting “THERE, DID YOU SEE IT?” from half a mile away.
Something called the Sasquatch Genome Project released what it claimed were “High def” images but, again, not so much. (look here.) And there are many web sites around making similar claims.
Real? The picture here, on your immediate left, says it all.