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COUNTY: Dubuque County
LOCATION DETAILS: [Investigator (MM) Notes:
Google "Camp Little Cloud Iowa"
This Girl Scout camp mentioned in this report is still in business.
It is roughly 13 miles due west of Dubuque.
NEAREST TOWN: Graf
NEAREST ROAD: Girl Scout Road
OBSERVED: Saw a mid-height gangly creature run across the road on two feet.
This occurred many years ago, but with the more current sightings in the area, I'd like to submit the story.
The summer of 1959, after having worked the two previous summers as a counselor-in-training, I worked as a fully-fledged counselor at Little Cloud Girl Scout Camp west of Dubuque, Iowa.
On the first day of the third and final camping session, the girls arrived and were escorted to their tents to unpack and get settled in. Just at dusk, I was approaching the main lodge when I noticed a dark figure standing in the shadows near our craft hut. I mentioned this to the camp director’s husband, “Big Daddy,” thinking that all the parents had not yet left. He said all the parents had left some time ago, and called the Sheriff’s Office to report this.
Deputies arrived and checked out the area but didn’t find anyone.
Later that evening, my co-counselor and I had our campers settled down in bed, and had just crawled into our own sleeping bags for the night. As we were falling asleep, we heard the crunching sound of someone walking down the gravel lane that runs through our unit, Cricket Valley. We assumed it was Big Daddy checking to see if everyone was quieted down for the night, and thought nothing more of it.
At breakfast the next morning, I mentioned to Big Daddy that we had heard him passing through our unit the previous night, and he assured me that he definitely had not been there. He made the Sheriff’s Office aware of this incident.
That was the beginning of 12 sleepless nights for us. I recall sitting up in all night bed with a rosary in one hand and a baseball bat in the other. Each night after the girls had settled down and everything was quiet, we’d hear these footsteps. They’d pass by our tent and continue on to the campers’ tents.
Eventually the girls started commenting that they’d heard rustling noises around their tents at night. We assured them it was just little forest creatures sniffing around for food. Every morning we reported these activities, and every day Sheriff’s Deputies would come out to investigate, but never found anything.
All hell broke loose on the last day at camp. Everyone was busy packing up to go home, including the counselors, the camp director, and her husband. Mid-afternoon after the campers had all left, the director discovered that her tent had been trashed. Her clothes and other personal items from her open suitcase had been pulled out and thrown around the tent, and her alarm clock had been smashed on the wooden tent floor.
Once more, the Sheriff’s Office came out to investigate, and this time they decided to remain at the camp. We returned to our unit for the night, and just as we got into bed, we once again heard footsteps.
Since we knew the deputies were still around, we took a shortcut up a dirt trail to the main lodge and advised them of this. They accompanied us back down the hill, and we were all gathered around discussing the situation when suddenly we heard an extremely loud, horrific scream (I can only describe it is as a scream of primal rage) coming from near the most remote tent in our unit. At the same time, we heard the loud crack of a tree branch breaking. Two deputies were sent to check it out, and though they didn’t find any evidence of a prowler, they discovered that a large branch had been broken completely off of a mature maple tree and was lying on the ground. As nearly as I can recall, this branch had been growing at least seven to eight feet from the ground, and was approximately six to seven inches in diameter. I remember thinking maybe the prowler had been hiding in the tree, and the branch broke under his weight. In retrospect, if the prowler had been that heavy, I couldn’t figure out how he could have gotten up into the tree in the first place.
As we stood around looking at the branch by flashlight, we heard the same scream again, this time about half-way down the gravel path between our unit and a small pond. Deputies were sent to check it out, but returned shortly to say they hadn’t seen anything. As they were reporting in, we heard the scream of rage for a third time, this time much further away, along a small stream that ran through a valley in the bottoms of the camp. No deputies were sent out this time, but the deputies asked us to all sleep in the main lodge that night. They helped us carry our gear up to the lodge, and remained with us throughout the night and until we were picked up the next day to return home.
I should add that it was a dark night but still and quiet, with no wind or stormy weather. Whoever had been stalking our unit did not have any difficulty navigating in the dark down the dirt cliffs and hills through bramble bushes and high weeds, as he moved quickly from one spot to another.
In 1967 when the Patterson-Gimlin film was released, I finally realized what might have been occurring at camp. Had we been visited by a Bigfoot?
The next spring, someone from the Girl Scout Office asked me if I'd be interested in counselling again. I told her that because of what had happened the previous summer, I was not interested. She laughed and said the prowler had been caught, and it was a deaf-mute man on a home-visit to his family on a nearby farm. I responded that if he was a mute, how could he produce such loud screams.
I think she made up the story of the deaf-mute on a home-visit to quell parents' anxieties about sending their girls to that camp. To my knowledge, there was never any publicity about the story, either from the Sheriff's Office or the Girl Scout Office.
OTHER WITNESSES: camp personnel, sheriff's deputies
OTHER STORIES: Two recent sightings, both within 3 to 4 miles or so from the camp.
TIME AND CONDITIONS: Nightly, after 10:00 p.m.; dark night but still and quiet, with no wind or stormy weather
ENVIRONMENT: Hilly, wooded camp. Natural pond with a small stream running through the property. Difficult to stray far off beaten paths because of heavy brush and thorn bushes, poison ivy, etc. Very primitive at the time.
Follow-up investigation report by BFRO Investigator Ontario Richardson:
In the summer of 1959 Mary took a job as a Counselor at Camp Little Cloud Girl Scout Camp. On the first night she heard footsteps walking a gravel path through the tent. She initially thought this was the camp director's husband, due to the volume, but he later confirmed it was not. She saw a dark figure standing in the shadows near the craft hut. She asked the director why all the parents had not left yet, the director said they had.
Each following night she heard the same walking through the tent areas. She said she laid down each night with a bat and a rosary. The camp staff called the sheriff out each night to find the person who was walking through camp. Nothing was found by the Sheriff. On her final night, once all campers had left, Mary heard a series of “horrible, steroid-monster screams”. After the first scream, she heard a large branch snap. The camp staff called out the Sheriff deputies one final time. When they arrived with flashlights, they located a fresh 6” diameter Maple branch on the ground.
The second scream was heard by camp staff and deputies, but it had moved towards the pond. The deputies took off into the woods to locate the source but turned around out of fear.
The third and final scream was located at the bottom of the hill, by a creek. The deputies asked the staff to sleep in the lodge and told them not to sleep in tents.
Mary said the creek flanks all three scream locations and she believes it was using this for travel.
She related that the screams had the tone of “horrible disappointment”. She wondered if this was due to the campers no longer being present. Mary was completely unaware of Bigfoot at this time. She was not aware of the concept until the Patterson-Gimlin film came out a couple of years later.
About BFRO Investigator Ontario Richardson:
As an Eastern Iowa native, Ontario Richardson works professionally as National Account Manager, for one of the largest contract security companies in the world and previously worked in law enforcement, as a 911 Emergency Dispatcher. She obtained her BFA from Iowa State University in 2015. While in college, she took several classes on Native American history.
Ontario grew up going on remote Canadian fishing trips with her family. She has been a solo investigator of sightings and promising habitat throughout Eastern and Southern Iowa for an extended amount of time. Ontario’s favorite areas of research are print casting and audio. She is also a member of the Lowlands Bigfoot Research Group.
She recently attended the 2023 Spring Iowa and Minnesota BFRO Expeditions, as well as several private expeditions.