Stories of man's encounters with large, hairy humanoids stretch back through history. Countless of them exist. Whether or not one believes they're real, they do make us wonder about ourselves, our place in nature and the mysterious world around us.
We consider these to be 10 of the greatest bigfoot tales ever told, including some of the earliest bigfoot tales on record and the one that many point to as definitive proof that the monster is real. Count them down, from 10 to 1.
Coming in at No. 10 in our countdown is the story of Jacko, an ape man allegedly captured by a crew of railway workers in British Columbia during the summer of 1884.
According to the men, they spotted a man-beast lying alongside the tracks as they passed through a rocky gorge. They stopped to investigate the creature and determined that it had somehow fallen from a cliff and was injured, but still very much alive. The men managed to capture the creature and force it onto the train. They took it into town and held it for several days in the local jail, feeding it berries as they tried to decide what to do with it. They named their captive beast "Jacko."
According to some, the legend of Jacko provides convincing evidence of the existence of Bigfoot. However, a news report of the incident published in the Daily British Colonist and uncovered by Bigfoot researchers in the 1950s suggests otherwise. According to the report, about 200 people visited the jail hoping to get a glimpse of the wild man once word of it spread throughout the region. Alas, there was no man-beast to behold. The erstwhile captors reported that Jacko had made a cunning escape from the jail just moments before their arrival. The townspeople were not sold, and neither are most modern-day Bigfoot enthusiasts.
9. The Tale of Albert Ostman
No. 9 on our countdown is the terrifying tale of Albert Ostman, an itinerant lumberjack who encountered a family of ape men during a camping trip in the remote forests of British Columbia in 1924. One night, so the story goes, Ostman awoke to the realization that he was being carried off — still in his sleeping bag — and that he was unable to wrangle himself free. His captor had him over one shoulder and was moving rapidly over mountain terrain with his hand over the sleeping bag opening.
After a couple of hours of this harrowing journey, Ostman was released from his sleeping bag confines and claims to have found himself surrounded by a family of Sasquatch. There was an adult man, an adult woman and two children, a girl and a boy. They did not attempt to hurt him, according to Ostman, but they made it clear that he was not allowed to leave. Over the next few days, the forest beasts chattered to each other with grunts and monosyllabic utterances, keeping a close eye on their victim. Finally, Ostman says he hatched a plan to incapacitate the adult male by enticing him to consume an entire tin of snuff. As the giant creature writhed in pain, Ostman was free to make his escape.
After finding his way to a logging camp, where lumberjacks fed him and gave him shelter, Ostman returned home from his torturous trip without telling anyone about his abduction. That is, until 30 years later. He finally told his story after he heard that several others had come forward with similar tales. The experience haunted him for the remainder of his life, but he never knew why he was taken by the Sasquatch or what became of them in their mountaintop hideaway.
8. The Ape Men of Mount St. Helens
Nothing ruins a wilderness trip like being attacked by a band of menacing ape men, but that's just what Fred Beck and four of his fellow gold miners claim happened to them on a prospecting job in Mount St. Helens in the summer of 1924. According to Beck, the men had just settled down to sleep for the night when they were awakened by an attack on their cabin. Someone — or something — was pounding the roof with rocks and trying to tear down their humble yet sturdy abode. Shocked, they grabbed their rifles and began shooting at the intruders.
The fighting continued all night long, so the story goes, but none of the men were seriously hurt. By morning, an eerie quiet had entered the camp and as the men cautiously exited the cabin, they saw an ape man in the distance. They shot at the beast several times and it finally fell over the cliff into the canyon. It was the only one of their attackers they would see.
The men packed their belongings in a hurry — leaving most things behind — and made their way home, promising each other not to speak of the incident to anyone. Alas, the story was leaked and within a few weeks it was picked up by the local newspaper, which dubbed the beasts the "Ape Men of Mount St. Helens."
7. Big Feet at Bluff Creek
In the summer of 1958, Jerry Crew was working as a tractor operator for a construction crew in the Bluff Creek area of Northern California. His first indication that something was odd in the woods surrounding the worksite came in early August when a 700-pound tire was thrown into a gully as workers stood in awe. But that wasn't the end of it. Soon, Crew began finding giant man-like footprints around his bulldozer when he arrived at work in the mornings. At first he was skeptical, but as he learned of the many myths and legends of an enormous man-ape creature that lived in those very parts, he soon believed that he had stumbled upon something spectacular.
Crew brought the footprints to the attention of his friend, local taxidermist Bob Titmus. Titmus helped Crew create plaster casts of the prints, and together they took the casts to a newspaper reporter in nearby Eureka. The reporter was the first to call the beast "Bigfoot" and soon the images of the giant footprints were all over the world's newspapers. Thus, the legend of Bigfoot was born.
6. Honey Island Swamp Monster
According to legend, Louisiana's swampland is home to its own particular population of Bigfoot known as the "Honey Island Swamp Monster," or the "Louisiana Wookie," presumably because of its resemblance to the Star Wars character Chewbacca. Stories of those who encountered the beasts come from nearly every parish in the state and have endured over many generations.
The legend of the Swamp Monster rises up from Louisiana's primordial soup of remote, virtually impenetrable pristine swamp, a perfect environment for an evolutionarily challenged man-beast to exist outside the reach of modern man. Reports of such beasts come mostly from hunters and fishermen who claim to have encountered the giant hairy creatures or their footprints. But perhaps the most intriguing characteristic of the Swamp Monster — and one that recalls the Bigfoot stories of the Pacific Northwest — is the horrible smell that permeates the air long after the beast is gone. After all, nothing says "Bigfoot" like the lingering stench of death.
Some say the Honey Island Swamp Monsters are actually a feral group of humans, while others believe them to be the product of a love affair between a chimpanzee and an alligator. Whatever their beginnings, fear of the Swamp Monster keeps both sportsmen and tourists on the edge of their seats as they pass through Louisiana's murky morass.
5. The Mount Shasta Sighting
Virgil Larson's 1976 tale of his encounter with a man-beast on the forested slopes of California's Mount Shasta ranks among the most incredible of all Bigfoot stories. Larson had lived much of his life among the trees, so when he heard footsteps approaching him one day as he sat smoking at the base of a tall Douglas fir, he remained at ease. He looked back casually to see a tall figure moving toward him at first and then veering away. Thinking it was a ranger coming to inquire about his forest activities, he shouted a greeting. The figure glanced back, but continued walking away, eventually dropping out of sight.
Curious, Larson stood up to see where the "man" might have gone. Suddenly, according to Larson's story, the figure emerged from behind a bush and gazed at him with an ominous expression. Larson was stunned. This was no man, Larson recalls, but a large beast, about 7 feet tall with dark hair covering its entire body. Larson stood frozen for a moment. Then, as the beast turned and disappeared into the forest, Larson ran in the opposite direction to find his partner, Pat Conway. He told Conway about what he saw, and together they went back to the site to investigate the area. There was no sign of the creature, but a foul stench remained in the area where it had been seen last.
Larson remembers very little about the creature's appearance, but recalls distinctly the beast's bear-like gait. He could not say whether the monkey-man he encountered that day was actually a Bigfoot, but one thing is certain; the forests of Northern California are home to some of the tallest Bigfoot tales.
4. Bigfoot in Big Sky Country
In the summer of 2001, the rumor mill churned up a rather provocative tale of a Montana rancher who had shot and killed a Bigfoot after the man-beast was caught menacing his livestock. But wait, it gets better. The rumors also contain details about federal agents — presumably the FBI — showing up within minutes of the kill to whisk the wild man's remains away to an undisclosed location before the local police had time to investigate. The story created quite an intrigue among the local population and within the Bigfoot research community.
Despite the detailed nature of the claims and their persistence over several months, many people were skeptical of the slain Sasquatch story, especially when the rancher/would-be killer came forth to say that no such incident ever occurred. Alas, the tale was too good to be allowed to die. The rumors only spread wider with the rancher's denial, which was taken as evidence of his role in the cover-up.
3. The Big Bigfoot Joke
When Bigfoot enthusiasts Rick Dyer and Matt Whitton called a press conference in August 2008 to announce that they had the body of a 500-pound dead Bigfoot in a large freezer, the response was a whirlwind of international media fanfare. Word of the find exploded on the news wires, especially once images of the frozen beast were published along with a story claiming that several more individuals were known to exist in a remote part of north Georgia. As Dyer and Whitton explained, the exact location of the remaining man-beasts would be kept confidential in order to protect their privacy.
However, the hype was short-lived. Soon after the press conference, mammalian experts from around the country responded by discounting the images as a hoax. Most believed that Dyer and Whitton had merely stuffed a widely available Bigfoot Halloween costume with an assortment of mammalian road kill. When confronted, the men soon confessed that it was all a hoax — they had indeed purchased the costume on the Internet. When asked why they did such a thing, the two replied that it was all just a "big joke."
2. The Bauman Incident
The Bauman story comes from President Theodore Roosevelt's 1892 book, The Wilderness Hunter, which describes an encounter between an ape man and a young frontiersman named Bauman. According to Roosevelt, Bauman and his partner were trapping along a remote stretch of Montana's Wisdom River sometime in the mid-19th century. After building a lean-to and making camp in what seemed like an ideal spot for game, the two men began setting their traps. When they returned, they found their packs had been rummaged through and their shanty torn down. Undaunted, the men set about reconstructing their wilderness abode.
According to Roosevelt's book, that night Bauman was awakened by the sound of rustling and the foul stench of a wild beast. He immediately rose up and fired a shot, and then heard something tearing off through the woods. He and his partner were unnerved by this and decided to abandon the camp at the first light of dawn.
Come morning, the two split up so that Bauman could gather the traps while his partner made camp downriver. Sadly, both would not make it home alive. When Bauman arrived at the new campsite, he found his partner sprawled on the ground with his necked snapped and a set of bite marks on his throat. He knew at once that the menacing forest beast was responsible, according to the story. The horrific sight sent him running — rifle in hand — never to return to the spot again. By the time he told his story to Roosevelt, Bauman was a very old man.
1. The Patterson Film
Coming in at No. 1 on our countdown is the Patterson film, by far the most famous and compelling evidence of Bigfoot's existence. Shot in Northern California's Bluff Creek in October 1967 by Roger Patterson and Robert Gimlin, the short film shows what appears to be a female Bigfoot walking briskly across a sandbar in the middle of the afternoon. The footage is shaky at first, since Patterson was thrown from his horse when the creature first appeared and had to scramble to his feet with his camera. Then, the footage steadies as the eager filmmaker focuses on his subject just as the she-beast turns to face the camera before disappearing into the woods.
These images have become the most iconic and conclusive Bigfoot images of our time. They are also the most controversial.
There is no doubt that the Patterson film made a huge impression on the world, but is it real? The film has been analyzed for authenticity numerous times over the past three decades. Unfortunately, the findings have been far from consistent. Some say that the animal's stride is inconsistent with that of a man — arguing in favor of the Bigfoot hypothesis — while others say the footage is merely a hoax, albeit a skillful one. The truth may never be known, but one thing is certain; the Patterson film is the cornerstone upon which all subsequent Bigfoot research has been built.