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Media Article # 411

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Southern Oregon Bigfoot Lore

By Jane Sauls
Jacksonville Oregon News

While tales about the legendary Bigfoot are scattered around the world, southern Oregon has its very own claim to fame thanks to a decades-old Bigfoot Trap nestled within the Applegate Ranger District of the Rogue River National Forest.

As primitive as it may sound, the giant contraption was built only in the early 1970s as an attempt by some locals to validate the elusive creature's existence as well, allegedly, as to spare them its wrath.

The one-of-a-kind trap has waited decades for a furry creature with 18-inch feet and a larger than life shadow, outlasting many of the men who built it.

The trap was constructed, according to forest service records, when a short-lived group dubbed the North American Wildlife Research firm applied for a special use permit in the early 1970s.

It stands today, almost-but-not-quite as solid as the day it was built, measuring 10x10-square-feet and of heavy wood slats and reinforced steel bolts and plats, anchored to huge lumber pillars.

Former Applegate resident Sharon B. remembers vividly an uncle who could not let tales of the eight-foot monster fade away.

"My uncle was convinced to the day he died that Bigfoot existed and that he smelt him once when he was out hunting deer," she said.

"Did he? Who knows. Some folks think its kinda fun to believe, but some were more passionate than others, God rest their souls."

The now Medford nurses aid recalls being told she could not go on a camping trip with a group of friends in the Applegate as a teenage for fear Sasquatch may strike.

"Everyone had a friend of a friend who swore they'd heard proof he was real... a friend of a friend had seen a footprint, smelt something, heard noises in the woods. I thought it was pretty ridiculous as a teenager. Thirty years later, it borders somewhere between that and a little creepy."

Jeff LaLand, historian for the Rogue River National Forest, said interest had hardly faded in the trap that never seemed to net its eight-foot tall target. Interest in the trap, he pointed out, seemed to outlast interest from those obsessed with Bigfoot's capture.

"They were granted permission to build this thing in early 70s. They would hang a deer carcass or something real stinky and the critter was supposed to go in after it and when he pulled it the trap would come down and set off an alarm," LaLand explained.

"I think they might of caught a bear at some time. The thing was in operation for just a few years then they didn't renew their special use permit. I think the whole thing kind of went belly up."

LaLand said the trap's construction was nothing to scoff at.

"The trap has remained all this time. It's built very, very solid with creosoted planks and posts... these people were evidently sincere in what they were trying to accomplish," he added.

"After almost 40 years or so of Bigfoot lore, the more information that comes out, the more indication that all this Bigfoot stuff was, well... the film, the footprints, maybe they all were hoaxes. It's too bad I guess not to have that little bit of mystery out there. We have it up there on the trail because it's just a nifty thing, kind of an interesting little symbol of southern Oregon history."

To get to the legendary Bigfoot trap, Take Highway 238 from Jacksonville onto Upper Applegate Road towards the Applegate Dam. A pull-off along the right side of the side the road is used for parking. Hike just over a half mile to an abandoned miner's claim and follow a dirt trail to the 1974 structure.

You might not find any large hairy creatures, but it makes for a nice afternoon drive, gorgeous countryside and some interesting southern Oregon history.

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