Thursday, November 7, 2013

Travels In Strange Lands: Oregon and Washington

Tracks and sightings have been
witnessed around Oregon's Mt.
Hood. I found this guy on the
road up to the mountain.
Some of the other places of paranormal note that I visited while in Oregon and Washington, include some rather famous locales in the annals of the anomalous...

While mainly I enjoyed a tour (and copious samples) from the factory of the eponymous brand of cheese in Tillamook, OR, I also took note of the fact that this area was also the setting for an encounter in 1981 with a foul-smelling Bigfoot that followed a couple up a hill.
Further up the storied Highway 101 (aka Pacific Coast Highway), at Tillamook Head, a UFO plunged into the Pacific several miles off shore in early January 1965.
Mt. St. Helens

Washington's Mount St. Helens may be most famously known as the volcano that destructively blew its top in 1980, but far earlier than that it was known for the strange events at an innocuous canyon on its eastern slope. In July 1924, prospectors were assaulted by "mountain devils' that hurled rocks at the cabin in which they sought refuge. The men fired upon the creatures (whose descriptions clearly match that of what we term Sasquatch), injuring one. As dawn arrived, the men were startled to find giant footprints in the ground--footprints that were still there when reporters from the Portland Oregonian arrived later. Since that incident, this innocuous fold on the mountain has been named "Ape Canyon".

One legend, as recounted by William Halliday of the Western Speleological Survey in his 1983 pamphlet "Ape Cave and the Mount Saint Helens Apes," says that YMCA counselors at Camp Meehan at nearby Spirit Lake would bring their young charges to the edge of the canyon where they would throw small stones (clearly before the advent of TV). The story, which became a Camp Meehan oral tradition, said the miners would look up only to see silhouetted figures throwing stones at their cabin. But the tale told by Fred Beck, the last surviving miner, is one of a far more intense and exhaustive encounter, which resulted in footprints witnessed by others. It seems the YMCA story might just be a camp fire tale, perhaps to titillate and the assuage nascent fears any camper would have about the Bigfoot legends in the area.

And the legends go back. Way back.

 Me with a 20' biggy
at the famous buried
A-frame house on the
road to Mt St Helens
In the spring of 1847, western artist Paul Kane wrote in his journal: "When we arrived at the mouth of the Kattle-Poutal River (Lewis River) twenty-six miles from Fort Vancouver, I stopped to make a sketch of the volcano, Mount St. Helens, distant, I suppose, about thirty or forty miles.  This mountain has never been visited by either whites or Indians, the latter assert that it is inhabited by a race of beings of a different species, who are cannibals, and whom they hold in great dread.  They also say that there is a lake at its base with a very extraordinary kind of fish in it, with a head more resembling that of a bear than any other animal. These superstitions are taken from the statement of a man who, they say, went to the mountain with another and escaped the fate of his companion, who was eaten by the(se) "Skookums" or evil genii.  I offered a considerable bribe to any other Indian who would accompany me in its exploration, but could not find one hard enough to venture."

Rocque Ducheney, a trader and mountain man once employed with the Hudson's Bay Co., told stories of his frontier west days. He daughter, Agnes Louise Ducheney-Eliot was quoted in Told by the Pioneers that "Grandpa Ducheney firmly believed the story of the huge apes near St. Helens Mountain. He went there to hunt once and one of these apemen beckoned to him. He just turned and ran and ran until he reached home." The date for that encounter is hard to pin down but she does also not that General Grant had stayed with the Ducheneys, putting the time-frame at circa 1852.

Back to the Portland area, John Green writes in his Sasquatch: The Apes Among Us of an encounter several fishermen had at a lake in the mountains southeast of the city. Two of the three men spotted a seven-foot creature "like a bear on its hind legs, hairy but almost human" circle their companion who lay asleep on the shore.

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