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Geographical Index > United States > California > Humboldt County > Article # 171

Media Article # 171
Article submitted by Ron Schaffner

Sunday, October 26, 1958

"Mr. Bigfoot? Now, You Don't Believe All That Stuff!"

By Millie Robbins
San Francisco Chronicle

"This World", October 26th, 1958

From the wilds of Humboldt county in recent weeks have come tales of discovery of large footprints, presumably human, that inspired speculation some strange creature was on the prowl. Herewith a report from a veteran Chronicle writer, Millie Robbins, whose normal beat, society, seems far removed from that of Bigfoot.

It wasn't that we intended asking Mr. Bigfoot to dinner. Just say we planned a neighborly call on a national celebrity who presumably lived one ridge over from our hinterland vacation home.

Rumors have been riding every riffle of the Klamath River. Not only were Bigfoot's prints being preserved and marked by signs but so was the spot on Bluff Creek where he enjoyed his daily bath, we were told. The terrified crews working on the still-under-construction road where the tracks had been discovered, were quitting their jobs in droves. The driver of the water wagon now carried an elephant gun. So many intrepid tourists were visiting the scene that a hot dog and pop stand was going to be set up on week ends.

So we were prepared for anything -- except what we got. It was a little unsettling to find no one on the road but intermittent workers. As a matter of fact we never came across another private vehicle either going or coming in our 20 mile, 6-hour safari by truck and hoof.

The first crew encountered was about 15 miles out from Williams' Store on an excellent dirt road. We'd been warned not to try to drive a car so had gone in the pickup. They were busily clearing away a slide, looked blank when we asked the whereabouts of the prints, concentrated on their jobs and ignored us. The "powder monkey" however, allowed as how if we intended to drive past we'd better get going as he was about to set off a charge of dynamite.

Pushing on, we came upon a "catskinner" nudging over the bank with a bulldozer. Oblidgingly, he turned his motor down just low enough to let us make ourselves heard by shouting. He grinned toothily at our questions. "Now don't you go believe all that stuff, do you?" he said before gunning his gear into a roar. That ended the conversation. You don't get persistent with these characters.

Our motorized locomotion came to an abrupt halt a mile or so farther on, where a number of men were building a bridge over Notice Creek. Their tents and makeshift mess hall flanked the road. Playing it cagey, we accosted what looked like the foreman. (The others stared through us anyway.) He replied politely, but vaguely that he had heard something about strange footprints but hadn't seen any himself and why didn't we walk up the road a piece? He seemed preoccupied with a plank. We trudged on to where a gang was putting in a culvert. They exchanged glances at our by now somewhat shame-faced queries and continued digging in silence. Finally one jovial lad leaned on his shovel and looked over our heads.

"Guess they mean the Bigfoot who drops around for breakfast every morning," he drawled to no one in particular. "He has a terrible appetite though -- always eats a dozen eggs and a pound of bacon."

"The rind, too?" piped up another, tossing aside a mound of muck.

"Oh, sure, he ain't civilized like us," replied the joker, "but he does help with the dishes."

Echoes of guffaws followed us -- and we thanked our lucky stars we'd left the camera in the pickup. In less than a mile the road came to an end. The final laboring pair also were catskinners. We approached one warily. Yes, he had once seen a couple of over-sized footprints. Where? On the shoulder of the bank a few yards ahead but he was afraid they had been covered with dust by now. (If he had, they were.) The other laborer, a solemn appearing middle-aged man, throttled his engine to a rumble. His name was Ray Kerr of McKinleyville and he worked for the Clark Construction Company of Sacramento.

"I've seen the footprints and the animal that made them." he startled us by saying a touch defiantly. "It was almost dark last Sunday as I was driving out to the camp. Something huge dashed across the road right in front of me and up the bank. It was no bear. I got out and turned my flashlight on the big tracks. I noticed that the toes dug deeper than the ball of the foot."

Was Mr. Kerr alone? No, but his traveling companion had been dozing. Are the tracks still there? Probably have been washed away by now. Did he go along with the theory that this might be a giant -- a sort of king-sized Tarzan of the Timbers?

"No," he responded flatly, "It was fur-covered, but it did walk upright. Like a big ape, is as close as I can get. The Indians hunting these back woods can tell you there's something loose around here, powerful enough to tear their steel traps apart. Believe me, there's something to all this, and don't let anyone tell you there isn't."

He gassed his "cat" and lurched forward, denoting that this more fruitful interview was terminated, too. Well, it was a nice outing. The scenery was magnificent. And the exercise didn't hurt us either even if we did wind up with a Bigfoot in our mouths.

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From the files of Ron Schaffner (

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