Geographical Index > United States > Iowa > Humboldt County > Article # 379
Media Article # 379
Article submitted by
Article prepared and posted by Kevin Withers
Tuesday, December 12, 1978
Bigfoot phenomenon is very much alive in Iowa
By Steven Klaus
Des Moines Register
During the past three months Iowans have heard a lot about
Bigfoot, the legendary, ape-like creature purported to roam
the countryside at night in search of food.
Some of the stories were generated by Bigfoot sightings
reported in July and September near the small town of Ottosen,
where several Humboldt County residents said they either saw
Bigfoot or heard strange screams in the night.
Many dismiss Bigfoot as a myth. Others, who believe there
is a Bigfoot, Yeti or Sasquatch that occupies a place between
man and ape, argue the creature lives only in the Northwest
and could not possibly survive in the Midwest.
Nevertheless, the Bigfoot phenomenon - whether fact, fiction
or hoax - is very much alive in Iowa.
Since last January, Bigfoot has been reported near at least
10 Iowa communities.
Deeds attributed to Bigfoot range from a pile of dead chickens
found near the Mitchell County town of Riceville to the dark
face that peered at a woman through the kitchen window of a
farm near Ottosen.
There is even one unsubstantiated report from a Sioux City
research group that a man wounded a Bigfoot with a deer rifle
in 1974 near Stone State Park on the northwest edge of Sioux
In every case, authorities have been unable to establish
conclusively that Bigfoot exists. Yet, they have not completely
accepted other explanations for the events.
Some law officers, like Humboldt County Sheriff Marvin
Andersen, are just relieved when the Bigfoot phenomenon moves
out of their area.
Andersen, who spent a good part of three months chasing down
Bigfoot reports near Ottosen, said last week, "We haven't had
anything now for about three weeks."
Andersen said he never was able to draw any conclusions from
"I still feel like these people definitely saw something but
I don't know what," he said.
That was also the opinion of Iowa Conservation Officer Bill
Basler of Algona, who talked to some of the people involved
with the Ottosen sightings.
"I believe, too that these people are seeing something, but
I don't know yet just what it is," Basler said.
Most of the Bigfoot incidents reported in Iowa during the
past year have been investigated by members of the Bigfoot
Information Center, a group of Bigfoot enthusiasts who joined
together last summer under the direction of Kevin Cook, 25,
of Des Moines.
The center currently has four members, including Cook, who
are collecting data on each new sighting.
Cook and his crew believe there are small groups of Bigfoots
(or Bigfeet) traveling by night through the Midwest, generally
following the Missouri and Mississippi River basins.
Since last winter, they have checked out Bigfoot reports near
Pella, Harvey, Oskaloosa, Charlton, Moulton, Clarion, West Bend,
Humboldt, Hardy and, of course, Ottosen.
Cook expects more sightings this winter.
"Because of the snowfall people are more apt to see tracks,
and there's not the vegetation in the winter as in spring and
fall so the tracks are a lot more visible," Cook said.
He also is betting that some reports will come from hunters
and snowmobilers, especially in the heavily wooded regions of
southern Iowa, where the Bigfoot phenomenon has flared up in
Several Bigfoot reports were turned in last winter in south-
central Iowa, and a sighting was reported in the fall of 1975
near the Jefferson County town of Lockridge in southeast Iowa.
At that time, at least three persons said they saw a large,
ape-like creature in the Turkey Creek area.
The following is a summary of Bigfoot incidents that have
been reported in Iowa since last January:
OSKALOOSA - Matt Ver Steeg of Knoxville, a member of the Iowa
Bigfoot Information Center, checked a report around Jan. 1 that
a woman who lives northeast of Oskaloosa near the Skunk River
had seen a Bigfoot come out from the shadow of a tree during
a heavy snowstorm. She described the creature as weighing 600
to 700 pounds and standing 8 to 10 feet tall. A few days later,
another resident in that area heard unusual noises and found
strange tracks in his yard.
HARVEY - Around Feb. 20 some residents of Harvey, a Marion
County town near the Des Moines River, reported strange noises
and track in the snow on the edge of town. Ver Steeg visited
the area after a 14-inch snowstorm and found track that were
20 inches long, 9 inches wide and had a five-foot stride. He
followed the tracks on his snowmobile for several miles. "It
looked like could have been two animals the way the tracks were
because of the way they crisscrossed," Ver Steeg said. Deputy
Sheriff Dick Gilman said that after analyzing some hair on a
fence the sheriff's office concluded the creature was a cow.
But Ver Steeg contends a cow could not have made those tracks
and set such a pace.
PELLA - Around Feb. 25 Ver Steeg was summoned to the old Pella
Bridge, which crosses the Des Moines River a few miles north
of Harvey, to investigate a report that a 10 or 11-year-old
boy had seen Bigfoot on the road near the bridge. The boy said
the creature had stopped to look at him, then disappeared into
the woods. Ver Steeg followed the tracks into the woods, but
they had filled with snow and it was impossible to make any
kind of determination. Ver Steeg said the boy was so frightened
he could not leave the house for several days.
CHARITON - Throughout the year, Ver Steeg and Cook have
received numerous reports of sightings and strange sounds in
a section of Stephens State Forest that is a few miles northeast
of Chariton, the Lucas County seat. The sightings never have
MOULTON - Two Moulton-Udell High School students reported
seeing a creature about 10:30 p.m. Aug. 28 on a dirt road in
a remote area south of Moulton known as Dean Bottoms. They
said it was 7 to 8 feet tall and weighed about 400 pounds.
The next day their science teacher accompanied them to the area,
where he found a footprint about 14 inches long with three toe
impressions, some corn that had been stripped "clean down the
cob," and an area where some brush had been trampled. Gary
Hagler of Des Moines, a member of the Bigfoot center, visited
the area and confirmed those findings.
OTTOSEN - In all, nearly a dozen persons reported seeing a
Bigfoot-like creature in the Ottosen area from July through
the middle of September. This case received the most publicity
of any sighting. There were reports that Bigfoot was seen in
town on at least three occasions and in the countryside twice.
Farmers in the area also said they were awakened at night by
strange sounds made by something that left farm dogs terrified.
And there were reports of mutilated animals, strange footprints
and stampeding cattle.
WEST BEND - During the period of the Ottosen sightings, a
fisherman found about two dozen footprints under a bridge over
the west branch of the Des Moines River near West Bend. Plaster
casts were made of the tracks, which were 16 inches long and
5 inches wide.
HUMBOLDT - In mid-September, a family that lives about three
miles northeast of Humboldt reported that something released
strange howls while moving through a ravine near their home
at midnight. The creature followed the woods to within a few
yards of the home. The sound - a hoarse howl - was so loud
that Sheriff Andersen could hear it through the telephone when
they called him. Andersen visited the area the next morning
and found places where the brush had been trampled but no tracks.
HARDY - A few days later, a 16-year-old boy told authorities
he saw a Bigfoot-like creature near dusk in a beanfield on a
farm near the Humboldt County town of Hardy. He said he scared
the creature off by honking the horn and flashing the lights
of a pickup. The next day, Sheriff Andersen visited the field
and found footprints that ended in a wooded area. Ken Taylor
of Iowa Falls, another member of the Bigfoot center, looked
into that report but was not convinced it was a legitimate
CLARION - In early October, a Clarion woman told police that
a dark image had peered through her kitchen window about 10:30
one night. The window, at the rear of the house, is seven feet
off of the ground. The next afternoon, police officers obtained
a plaster cast of one of several large indentations in the
backyard. Clarion is the seat of Wright County, which is
adjacent to Humboldt County, where the Ottosen sightings
occurred. The Bigfoot center's Hagler and Taylor looked into
the sighting and determined that someone could have been
performing a hoax. They reported that the impressions they
found were of right feet only.