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Geographical Index > United States > North Carolina > Cleveland County > Article # 292

Media Article # 292
Article submitted by Ron Schaffner

Sunday, January 21, 1979

Knobby: Where is He? What is He?

By Jennie Palmer
Gastonia Gazette

TOLUCA - From the back roads that wind through the Smokey Mountain foothills and from the cities that lie below, the masses are converging on this usually quiet Cleveland County community that it's fair week.

And they're all searching for "Knobby", the mysterious ape- like creature folks around here have reported seeing for almost a month now.

Stop at any one of the country stores and many of the homes that dot the hillsides and you'll hear the latest "Knobby" tale. If your face is strange, no one will ask why you've come. Instead, they"ll offer to direct you to Minnie Cook's house or Sally White's for a first-hand account of the sightings.

Minnie, an 88-year-old woman who became the first to let her story be known, is so terrified of what may be lurking outside her front door that she won't talk to a visitor unless she's been forewarned of his arrival by her son, Elbert, or daughter-in-law, Ruby. Each time Minnie goes outside the house, Ruby said, she carries a rifle.

"People aren't just saying they saw it," Ruby said Thursday afternoon as she sat inside the store she runs with her husband. "They have seen it."

The Cooks' store lies in the afternoon shadow of Carpenter's Knob, the foothills hill point just west of Toluca and the landmark from which the creature draws its name.

The store and nearby Mountain View Grocery are where area folks gather to swap their "Knobby" stories and where outsiders stop to track down leads to its whereabouts.

"Everybody that comes in here talks about it," Ruby said. "A lot of them are scared to death. Me? Well, I'll just tell you I'm not about to go out looking for it."

But others are.

Throughout the day Thursday a Shelby radio station crew broadcast live from a campground near the base of the knob. The crew, a smattering of newsmen and a host of curious searchers spent the night hopping from spot to spot in hopes of sighting the creature that's causing the stir.

Robert Shoup and Butch Craig cut their high school classes to sit all day by a campfire near the top of the knob. "We're just waiting and looking for it," Butch said.

And Russell Cook took a day off work to go "Knobby" hunting with Rondal Huffman. "We've been all over these woods looking for signs of it but we haven't seen a thing," Rondal said.

Their last trek of the day was through a deep gully that runs behind Sally White's house, the site of one of the most recent "Knobby" reports.

Mrs. White claims to have seen the animal three times, the last on Tuesday about 8:30 p.m.

"I heard the dog barking and I looked out," she said. "he was barking and jumping up. When he did that I knew there was something outside that was more than another dog."

"I looked down the path and I saw it - something long and black coming up through the woods. Its the same thing I've seen twice before, once before Christmas and once right after."

That's the best description, Mrs. white says, she can give of "knobby." But others who claim to have seen it wandering along the roadsides, snatching food from a trash dump and making his way through the woods say "Knobby" is about six feet tall, weighs about 200 pounds, has a small head, flat face and dark, hairy body.

Speculation about the creature's identity ranges from wandering mountain panther to escaped carnival baboon to misplaced bear to Big Foot, the supposed missing link between man and ape.

A state park developer drove from eastern North Carolina to Toluca to check the Big Foot possibility. Two other researchers, working on a project for a Massachusetts university, spent at least one night on Carpenter's Knob checking out their own theories about "Knobby." Area residents say they do not know whether the men have left the area.

At least 16 "Knobby" sightings have been reported since late December in the vicinity of Carpenter's Knob. Earlier this week Forest Price of Casar, a community located about 10 miles west of Toluca, reported finding his goat dead of a broken neck and speculated that "Knobby" may have been the killer. His brother said he saw the creature roaming the woods near their homes.

An animal den and tracks were found about two miles from the Price houses. Searchers said the tracks were at least as large as a man's hand and similarly shaped with a thumb-like protrusion.

But most people, both hunters and wildlife protectors, are turning up no trace of the mysterious creature as they comb spots where sightings have been reported.

"Most of this talk is just plain old hearsay," said Clyde Price, whose relatives own a large tract of land near the top of Carpenter's Knob. "When something like this gets started it gets bigger and bigger."

(Note: Three photos: 1. Two hunters searching for Knobby 2. Photo of carpenter's Knob 3. Sally White, who saw "Knobby"

KNOBBY MAP showing sightings on N.C. route 10; RPR 1623; St. Paul's Church Road; Carpenter's Knob, Garbage dumb; Bellwood Casar Rd., Casar, Pond and Methodist Camp Ground.

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