Bigfoot in History
I'm not much of a big Sasquatch believer. But if Bigfoot isn't real, what were those people seeing in the western woods a hundred and more years ago?
BIG FOOT.--On a late Indian hunt in the vicinity of Weiser, Idaho, Lieut. Barker discovered the print of a foot (not human, we scarcely think savage), the smallest measurement of which that could be obtained showed a length of seventeen and a half inches, with widest breadth of about seven inches.
Oregon City Enterprise, October 26, 1867, page 1
The San Joaquin Republican has the following wild story: We learn from good authority that a wild man has been seen at Crow Cañon, near Mount Diablo. Several attempts have been made to capture him, but as yet have proved unsuccessful. His tracks measure thirteen inches.
"Pacific Coast Items," Daily Alta California, San Francisco, September 23, 1870, page 1
THE WILD MEN OF CALIFORNIA.
A correspondent of the Antioch Ledger, writing from Grayson under date of October 16th, says:
I saw in your paper some time since an item concerning the "gorilla" which is said to have been seen in Crow Canyon, and shortly afterwards in the mountains of Orestimba Creek. You sneer at the idea of there being any such "critter" in these hills, and were I not better informed, I would sneer too, or else conclude that one of your recent prospecting party had got lost in the wilderness and didn't have sense enough to find his way back to Terry's. I positively assure you that this gorilla, or wild man, or whatever you choose to call it, is no myth. I know that it exists, and there are at least two of them, having seen them both at once, not a year ago. Their existence has been reported at times for the past twenty years, and I have heard it said that in early days an orangutan escaped from a ship on the southern coast, but the creature I have seen is not that animal, and if it is, where did he get his mate? Import her as the Webfoot did their wives? Last fall I was hunting in the mountains about 20 miles south of here and camped five or six days in one place, as I have done every season for the past fifteen years. Several times I returned to my camp, after a hunt, and saw that the ashes and charred sticks from the fireplace had been scattered about. An old hunter notices such things, and very soon gets curious to know the cause. Although my bedding and traps and little stores were not disturbed as I could see, I was anxious to learn who or what it was that so regularly visited my camp, for clearly the half-burnt sticks and cinders could not scatter themselves about. I saw no tracks near the camp, as the hard ground, covered with leaves, would show none. So I started in a circle around the place, and three hundred yards off, in damp sand, I struck the track of a man's feet, as I supposed--bare and of immense size. Now I was curious, sure, and I resolved to lay for the barefooted visitor. I accordingly took a position on a hillside about sixty or seventy feet from the fire, and securely hid in the brush, I waited and watched. Two hours or more I sat there and wondered if the owner of the feet would come again, whether he imagined what an interest he had created in my inquiring mind, and finally, what possessed him to be prowling about there with no shoes on. The fireplace was on my right, and on the spot where I saw the track was on my left, hid by the bushes. It was in this direction my attention was mostly directed, thinking the visitor would appear there, and besides, it was easier to sit and face that way. Suddenly I was startled by a shrill whistle, such as boys produce with two fingers under their tongue, and, turning quickly, I ejaculated "Good God!" as I saw the object of my solicitude standing by my fire, erect, and looking suspiciously around. It was in the image of a man, but it could not have been human. I was never so benumbed with astonishment before. The creature, whatever it was, stood full five feet high, and disproportionately broad and square at the shoulders, with arms of great length. The legs were very short, and the body long. The head was small, compared with the rest of the creature, and appeared to be set upon his shoulders without a neck. The whole was covered with dark brown and cinnamon-colored hair, quite long on some parts, that on the head standing in a shock and growing close down to the eyes, like a Digger Indian's. As I looked, he threw his head back and whistled again, and then stooped and grasped a stick from the fire. This he swung round and round, until the fire on the end had gone out, when he repeated the maneuver. I was dumb, almost, and could only look. Fifteen minutes I sat and watched him, as he whistled and scattered my fire about. I could have easily put a bullet through his head, but should I kill him? Having amused himself, apparently, as he desired, with my fire, he started to go, and having gone a short distance, he returned, and was joined by another--a female, unmistakably--when they both turned and walked past me, within twenty yards of where I sat, and disappeared in the brush. I could not have had a better opportunity for observing them, as they were unconscious of my presence. Their only object in visiting my camp seemed to be to amuse themselves with swinging lighted sticks around. I have heard [sic] this story many times since then, and it has often raised an incredulous smile, but I have met one person who has seen the mysterious creatures, and a dozen who have come across their tracks at various places between here and Pacheco Pass.
The Daily Appeal, Marysville, California, October 29, 1870, page 1. Reprinted in a shortened version in the Democratic Times, Jacksonville, Oregon, November 25, 1871, page 1 Compare with the 1879 account from the same area, below.
It is reported that a gorilla was seen in the Cedar Mountain Range about twenty miles south of Livermore, a few nights since.
"Pacific Coast Items," Sacramento Daily Union, January 25, 1871, page 2
R. W. Hall writes as follows to the Echo concerning what is called a "mysterious wild person" in the woods near Olympia. Mr. Hall says: "On Saturday, the 4th of November, while I was rowing a boat up Woodward's Bay--which is a branch of South Bay--I saw that something was moving the grass on the beach. Its back, covered with light brown hair about one inch and a half long, was in sight. I thought it was a fox or coon. The tide was high, and I turned my boat toward the bank. As I neared the shore, and laid down one oar, preparatory to striking the animal with the other, it stood erect like a man, and looked at me a moment over its shoulder. I was surprised and dropped my oar in amazement. Its body was covered with light, short hair, while longer and lighter tresses hung heavily from its head. Its arms were quite small; lower limbs strong and muscular; stood about three feet high; and face like a child's, with piercing, light blue eyes. It sprang into the brush, jumped over a log, and hid. I found it, and stood within a few feet of it, wondering how to make its capture. Without turning its eyes from me, the strange creature laid under the log till my hands were within a few inches of its body, then it passed under the tree and ran away with such speed that I could not keep it in view. I am sure that it is a white person--young or old, and while its visage is impressed upon my memory I shall never, never believe that it is anything else." Indians say the same object has been seen by them twice before.
"The Territories," Oregonian, Portland, November 11, 1876, page 3
A Wild Man.
(Stockton Independent, Aug. 25th.)
On Saturday we met a gentleman who lives on the west side of the San Joaquin, about seven miles west of Hill's Ferry, who made the following statement: While in the Coast Range, about ten days ago, hunting, he and his companions encamped on the side of a ravine near the summit of the range. In the morning they discovered smoke lower down the ravine, and, upon going out upon the side of the hill to ascertain the origin of it, they discovered an object which puzzled them to name, and as their curiosity became excited they crept carefully toward it, in order to satisfy themselves what kind of an animal they had discovered. By creeping upon the ground they were able to approach within one hundred yards, when, to their astonishment, they found that the object which they had approached with the intention of shooting was a man, perfectly nude, but covered from head to foot with a most remarkable growth of hair. The hair upon his head and his beard were very long, reaching to his waist; while his body, arms and limbs were protected by the same natural covering. Hoping to approach and capture this strange being, they attempted to creep nearer, but he took alarm and rapidly ran away, jumping over the bushes in his path like a deer. The two gentlemen decided to remain and camp in the same locality the second night, and they were again rewarded by the sight of the strange being. They were awakened in the night by a sound resembling that caused by striking flint upon steel and upon advancing in the direction of the sound they saw the same object, who appeared to be striking two flint rocks together. On their approach he again took alarm and ran away. We have heard reports of a wild man in that vicinity for several years past, but the gentleman who makes this statement is the only one that we have ever seen who vouches for the truth of the report. The gentleman is well known to us, and he asserted that he and his companion were willing to make oath to the truth of the statement.
Daily Los Angeles Herald, August 28, 1879, page 3
Happy Camp Wild Man
The wild man of Happy Camp! How many remember when stories came out of Del Norte of a fearsome creature, and how those stories were spread and magnified? In a footnote to a little volume which L. W. Musick wrote in 1896 and called "The Hermit of Siskiyou," I find an account which he reprinted from a story which a Happy Camp correspondent sent to the Del Norte Record on January 2, 1886, almost exactly forty-nine years ago. Here it is: "I do not remember to have seen any reference to the wild man which haunts this part of the country, so I shall allude to him briefly. Not a great while since, Mr. Jack Dover, one of our most trustworthy citizens, while hunting saw an object standing one hundred and fifty yard from him picking berries or tender shoots from the bushes. The thing was of gigantic size--about seven feet high--with a bulldog head, short ears and long hair; it was also furnished with a beard, and was free from hair on such parts of the body as is common among men. Its voice was shrill, or soprano, and very human, like that of a woman in great fear. Mr. Dover could not see its footprints, as it walked on hard soil. He aimed his gun at the animal, or whatever it is, several times, but because it was so human would not shoot. The range of this curiosity is between Marble Mountain and the vicinity of Happy Camp. A number of people have seen it and all agree in their descriptions except some make it taller than others. It is apparently herbivorous and makes winter quarters in some of the caves of Marble Mountain." Perhaps one of the number who saw that wild man will give us the story as it sticks in his mind. Was it seven feet tall and did he have the bulldog face? Might he have been another Ishi, or what is the answer? In Del Norte, close to a half century ago, he was real. Does anyone know more about this wild man?
Oakland Tribune, January 5, 1936, page 25
A Del Norte Record correspondent, writing from Happy Camp, Siskiyou County, California on Jan. 2, 1886, discourses as follows:
"I do not remember to have seen any reference to the 'Wild Man' which haunts this part of the country, so I shall allude to him briefly. Not a great while since, Mr. Jack Dover, one of our most trustworthy citizens, while hunting saw an object standing one hundred and fifty yards from him picking berries or tender shoots from the bushes. The thing was of gigantic size--about seven feet high--with a bulldog head, short ears and long hair; it was also furnished with a beard, and was free from hair on such parts of its body as is common among men. Its voice was shrill, or soprano, and very human, like that of a woman in great fear. Mr. Dover could not see its footprints, as it walked on hard soil. He aimed his gun at the animal, or whatever it is, several times, but because it was so human would not shoot. The range of the curiosity is between Marble Mountain and the vicinity of Happy Camp. A number of people have seen it, and all agree in their descriptions except some make it taller than others. It is apparently herbivorous and makes winter quarters in some of the caves of Marble Mountain."
L. W. Musick, The Hermit of Siskiyou--or--Twice-Old Man, 1896, pages 79-80
The Sacramento Bee says: P. Burns, who resides near Brighton, was in the city yesterday, and says that a few days since a man in his employ named Brooks was at work in the willows, near the American River, when he was suddenly confronted by an animal of strange appearance, which was about four and a half feet in height, walked erect, and was covered with long, black hair. Mr. Brooks was, of course, considerably started at the appearance of the strange being, which retreated into the dense thickets skirting the American. Mr. Brooks says the animal appeared to be a large ape or gorilla. He believes it to be an escapee from a menagerie, or, possibly, some human deformity. Mr. Burns says that he proposes to inaugurate a hunting party in a few days to find out, if possible, what the mysterious creature is.
"Coast Notes," San Francisco Chronicle, March 6, 1888, page 5
A Strange Animal Roaming in the Wilds of Eureka.
The Sentinel gives the following description of a strange animal roaming in the vicinity of Eureka. It has a resemblance to an animal combining the forms of a monkey and a bear, a part of its body being covered with long shaggy hair and the balance perfectly smooth and hairless. It is probably a species of the wonderloo, description of which may be found in natural history, but how it happens to be in this section is a conundrum.
Montana Standard, Butte, August 28, 1889, page 2
J. W. Terry discovered in a deep canyon near Pendleton a very peculiar skull. There are orifices for the eyes and nose, and the skull bears a very slight resemblance to that of a man, beside which it was compared. The skull is very thick, being an inch or more in some places, and from every appearance belonged to some very powerful and formidable-looking animal. It will be sent to the Smithsonian Institute.
Ashland Tidings, September 26, 1890, page 3
A Creature of the Wood.
WOODLAND, April 10.--It is reported today that a strange creature, much resembling a gorilla, has been seen in the hills adjacent to Capay Valley. The story is vouched for by more than one responsible man. The creature is said to be at least six feet tall when standing erect, travels on all fours, climbs trees and has wonderful strength in its hands. It has a shaggy covering. Much interest is excited over the find of this "what is it," and an effort will be made to learn more concerning it.
San Francisco Call, April 11, 1891, page 8
A STRANGE CREATURE.
A Remarkable Animal Seen in Capay Valley.
Singular Experience Related to a Reporter for the Evening News--What Is It?
A gentleman registered at a hotel in this city yesterday as being from Woodland. The visitor was interviewed by a reporter for the Evening News, because it had been rumored that he had a very strange story to tell of a recent adventure in the vicinity of Woodland.
The gentleman desired that his name should not be published, as what he had to relate was almost too incredible for belief, and for that reason he did not wish it to be generally known that he had made the statements. Of what he was about to relate, he was as positive as about anything else that had happened in his life.
The narrator, about a week ago, was on a hunting and fishing tour in the hills adjacent to Capay Valley near Woodland.
While wading across a small stream the hunter's attention was called to a movement in a small timber and brush a short distance from the bank of the stream.
It was evidently some large animal that was coming to the creek to drink, and in a moment a frightful object emerged from the brush and came in sight of the astonished fisherman.
The strange creature resembled a huge gorilla in form. It would have been at least six feet tall if it had stood erect.
The animal had a shaggy covering of a dark brown color. The hair seemed to be quite thick and long and covered the entire body with the exception of the face.
The appearance of the features was the most startling point about the strange beast.
The skin of the face was nearly white, and all the features closely resembled those of a human being.
The resemblance was much closer than the observer had ever noticed in the features of an ape or gorilla.
The appearance of a human face in connection with such a huge, hairy body was repulsive and startling to the beholder.
The creature did not pay any attention to the hunter, who stood still on the opposite bank, as if he was rooted to the spot with fright.
With an exceedingly quick movement on all fours the animal soon gained the creek.
As soon as the creature had satisfied its thirst it returned into the timber. In a few moments the hunter saw the animal climb a tree like a cat, and swing itself from limb to limb with wonderful agility.
In closing the interview the gentleman expressed it as his firm belief that the strange creature was not a huge gorilla.
The same story has been vouched for by more than one responsible man who lives in the vicinity of Woodland, and about a week ago an account of the discovery was published in the shape of a telegram to the papers of San Francisco and other localities in the state.
Naturally much interest in the matter has been excited in the vicinity of Woodland, and a hunting party will soon be organized with the object of capturing the creature in order that its origin and characteristics may be definitely determined.
Evening News, San Jose, California, April 17, 1891, page 3
You may have seen and heard the story, too,L. W. Musick, The Hermit of Siskiyou--or--Twice-Old Man, 1896, pages 37-38
Of how, upon Mount Siskiyou,
Was seen an ape, or spook, or tramp,
In region near to Happy Camp--
Some years gone by--
That was of stature taller than
The ordinary height of man--
Who fed on berries, roots and browse,
Nor of abode had tent or house,
And from whose eye
There gleamed the fierceness of the beast
That, thwarted of voracious feast,
With sullenness feigns to retire
Far in the jungle to his lair,
Though loiters near his wonted prey
Till enemy hath gone away.
Fred Foster and Bert Wasson, of Salmon Mountain, were visitors at the coal mine last week. The boys had a few days of prospecting on the South Fork, and visited the Harrison find on Rusty while there. The boys were told the following yarn by the Harrison boys: They had been out prospecting and becoming tired and hungry had come in for their noonday meal. Nearing camp, their ears were greeted by unearthly cries and a lively rattle of cooking utensils. Cautiously approaching camp, they were almost paralyzed at the sight that greeted them, there being a hairy animal that resembled a man in some respects, but which jumped around on its hind feet like a kangaroo. Its motions were swift and lightning-like, as it jumped about destroying everything in camp it could lay its hands on. The hair of its head reached far below its waist, and was of a brownish tint; the whiskers on its face were a foot or more in length; it had a bushy tail fourteen inches in length. After recovering from their amazement the boys held a council of war and determined on the capture of this strange man or beast. Separating, they proceeded to surround the camp, and had approached within a hundred feet before being discovered, the brute uttering a strange and peculiar cry. The animal made off like a flash of lightning. Passing within a few feet of Bob, he made a grab for its long, flowing hair, but its motion was so swift that he grasped its tail, from which the hair slipped, leaving Bob utterly dumbfounded and gazing with wide distended eyes after its fast retreating form. Too bad, Bob. If you had succeeded in capturing that kangaroo man, it would have made you a fortune.
"Etchings from Eckley," Coquille City Herald, May 2, 1899, page 2
WILD MAN IN SISKIYOUS.The wild man is now the leading topic along the Klamath. Report from Waldo has it that the great and mysterious has once more come out of his den in the woods, and presented his gigantic form to the gaze of man. The parties to whose view this apparition presented itself say that he was not less than nine feet high and that his track is eighteen inches long and that there are plainly visible the marks of seven toes on each foot. His leaps in the snow measured from ten to fifteen feet in snow three feet deep. The parties, who saw him while out hunting, at first thought that it was an elk from the manner in which he broke the brush. But think of their amazement when it reached a clearing, threw up its arms, stood and gazed around, and began vigorously pulling at its grizzled beard, when with a hideous yell, he fled and vanished. Authentic report has it that it was the hunters who fled with alarm, and we are prone to believe the latter. Such a story may seem absurd, but since we know the reputation for veracity of these hunters, we can vouch for its authenticity.
A Klamath River Correspondent Describes the Uncanny Giant,
Who Was Seen by Waldo Miners.
PORTUGUESE BILL.Valley Record, Ashland, March 21, 1901, page 1
THE WILD MAN OF CURRY COUNTY
Almost Seen by Two Prospectors, Has Female Companion--Feet Sixteen Inches Long
J. F. Tanner and G. B. Wasson, of South Slough, who spent the past two months prospecting in the mountains of Coos and Curry county and even over into California, passed through Marshfield Sunday on the way home. The boys were well equipped for such an expedition, having two pack animals and a complete outfit, each carrying a good rifle and followed by two dogs.
They found some mineral croppings in both gold and iron ore, also some evidences of coal and brought back some dust and a quantity of rich gold ore. They made a wide circuit and prospected some rich country. The trip was a hard one on the men and animals. They shot only such game as they needed for food and lived a mountaineer hunter's life and seemed to be glad to get home.
One of the thrilling incidents of the journey was coming upon the camp of the wild man of Curry County. This was somewhat romantic, owing to the fact that they had talked with several who claimed that they had seen the monstrosity of which several vivid portrayals have been in print. The fact of being right in the country where the wild human being was last seen and having been vividly reminded by a friend of their being liable to "jump" the wild man at almost any turn made them keen to get sight of him. As they prospected day after day and camped night after night in the various nooks of the mountains where the wild man was supposed to dwell, they naturally became more keen and anxious, and saw signs and turned and twisted noises into the wild man's fashion, and if ever such a thing was seen by them they would surely recognize it.
While thus working around in the various ins and outs they stumbled right into a natural camping place where the indications pointed to a recent camping and where a large amount of fragments of meat and bones and carcasses of animals were found. No evidences of fire, and all meat had been eaten raw. The bed was a litter of ferns and leaves, and the imprint of a man was plainly impressed there and looked as though it had been used for that purpose for sometime. Numerous tracks were seen in and around the camping place.
The feet were moccasined and measured 16 inches long by 8 inches wide. The foot was well proportioned, though a little flat. Measurements of the imprint of the bed showed a profile of about 7 feet and 6 inches long.
There were many signs that the wild man must be accompanied by another, there being a smaller track and indications that it was that of a woman. Several handmarks were seen at the spring where the imprints of both large and small hands had been left in the mud, presumably made while drinking. The evidences of the cannibalistic feasting on raw flesh, the footprints, the imprints of the hands of two sizes all go to show that there are two individuals.
The boys camped for the night not far from this place and it was a night of restlessness; even the dogs seemed uneasy. Several times in the night the cry of a panther aroused them, and they were obliged to tether their horses to prevent them from escaping, for they even seemed to catch a kind of uneasiness. However, the wild man did not show up. A keen lookout was kept all the time with a hope of getting sight of them, and the romance of a probable capture of the wild man and possibly the woman was at once thrilling and set all their machinations to working, such as what they would do with them and possibly on battle royal or even the chance of being vanquished by the wild couple, had chance thrown them together.
They visited a cave which the couple had used for a place of abode during inclement weather and indications of a regular headquarters were visible, as any amount of carcasses were here in piles. All meat had been handled by the hand of man.
Here the boys were against the real thing, and if they really had the time they would have waited for the return of the wild people. The situation was so vivid in their minds that they could even tell just how the man looked. But they had only a short time to make home in, so they reluctantly left the trail of the wild people and will make another trip into that country sometime in the future, when they will stay six months but what they catch a clue or the human monstrosities themselves.
The boys looked somewhat like wild men themselves, having grown beards and otherwise looked like mountaineers. While away the boys had the misfortune to shoot and cripple a valuable dog. A panther badly mutilated another. They killed one panther and had a scrap with a second one. They saw 119 deer and two elk on the trip. This is one of the most romantic stretches of country on the Pacific Coast.
The Coast Mail, Marshfield, Oregon, August 17, 1901, page 4
The Kangaroo Man.We are informed that a determined effort is being made to capture the "Kangaroo Man" who is supposed to be roaming in the wilds of the Sixes River country, terrorizing the tenderfoot prospectors in that region and destroying the game supply to satisfy his insatiable desire for spilling blood, tells the Coos Bay News. An eastern man, who has handled freaks in the show business for a number of years, was in town last week, and gained much information from Levi and Al Smith regarding the wild man, his habits, his appetite for lone prospectors, and the probable location of the cave which he makes his winter quarters. A hunting party is to be organized in the near future, and should they succeed in capturing him he will be exhibited in the principal cities of the United States and European countries.
Roseburg Plaindealer, December 5, 1901, page 1
Long-Haired Creature in Human Form Appears Near Chesterfield.
Chesterfield, Ida., [Jan.] 27.--While a party of young people were skating on the Portneuf River near the home of John Gooch, an eight-foot all-hair-covered human monster suddenly sprang out of the timber upon the party.
The creature showed fight and flourishing a large stick and giving vent to a series of yells attacked the skaters, but it being slow of movement, they regained their wagons and got away in safety.
A party of young men returned armed and got a good view of the monster who was warming himself by the fire they had left. The beast was at least eight feet high, covered with long reddish-brown hair, the face was hidden by immense bushy whiskers, and no part of the naked skin was to be seen except a small spot above the eyes. The boys concluded not to bag the game at that time.
Measurements the following morning showed the tracks to measure twenty-two inches long by seven and one-quarter inches broad, with the imprint of only four toes. The stockmen report having seen similar tracks along the range west of the river, but as far as known no one has ever before seen the animal, who was trekking westward. The people, feeling unsafe while the beast is at large, have sent some twenty men on its trail to effect its capture.
Salt Lake Tribune, Salt Lake City, Utah, January 28, 1902, page 7
THE SIXES WILD MAN AGAIN
Hairy Being Who Is Horror of the Miners
He Hurls Four-Pound Rocks Through the Air Like Baseballs
The appearance again of the "wild man" of the Sixes has thrown some of the miners into a state of excitement and fear. A report says the wild man has been seen three times since the 10th of last month. The first appearance occurred on "Thompson Flat." Wm. Ward and a young man by the name of Burlison were sitting by the fire of their cabin one night when they heard something walking around the cabin which resembled a man walking, and when it came to the corner of the cabin it took hold of the corner and gave the building a vigorous shake and kept up a frightful noise all the time--the same that has so many times warned the venturesome miners of the approach of the hairy man and caused them to flee in abject fear. Mr. Ward walked to the cabin door and could see the monster plainly as it walked away and took a shot at it with his rifle, but the bullet went wild of its mark. The last appearance of the animal was at the Harrison cabin only a few days ago. Mr. Ward was at the Harrison cabin this time and again figured in the excitement. About 5 o'clock in the morning the wild man gave the door of the cabin a vigorous shaking, which aroused Ward and one of the Harrison boys who took their guns and started in to do the disturber. Ward fired at the man and he answered by sending a four-pound rock at Ward's head, but his aim was a little too high. He then disappeared in the brush.
Many of the miners avow that the "wild man" is a reality. They have seen him and know whereof they speak. They say he is something after the fashion of a gorilla and unlike anything else either in appearance or action. He can outrun or jump anything else that has ever been known; and not only that but he can throw rocks with wonderful force and accuracy. He is about seven feet high, has broad hands and feet, and his body is covered by a prolific growth of hair. In short he looks like the very devil.--Myrtle Point Enterprise.
Daily Capital Journal, Salem, Oregon, March 30, 1904, page 3
WILD MAN OF THE FOREST.
Hairy Creature Seen by Lone Traveler in British Columbia.
Vancouver, B.C. dispatch: A weird story of a wild man, encountered far inland from the headwaters of Campbell River, is told by Mike King, who had penetrated into a territory religiously shunned by Indians, none of whom would either accompany him, as usual, nor make any explanation of their conduct. King had been making his solitary way through the forest, not having seen a human face for days, when a cry of mingled surprise and fear, very human in its quality and foreign to the forest land, brought him to a sudden halt, rifle in hand and eyes straining for an explanation. This was quickly afforded, but in such a manner as to try the nerves of even such a woodsman as Mike King.
About 100 yards from where he stood, or even less, an uncouth human faced him, seemingly all uncertain whether to stand or fly. The form was that of a large and angular man, completely covered with hair, with long arms hanging loosely and hands reaching below the knees. The eyes were quick and penetrating, shining strangely through a tangle of unkempt hair. The object was unmistakably and uncompromisingly human, Mr. King attests, and yet no human being such as any nation, tribe or country knows.
After a long moment's scrutiny of the disturber of his solitude, the wild being decided upon flight, and simply ran up the hillside, assisting his movements with his long arms, and uttering at intervals cries of very human alarm, mystification and fear. Once it paused on the hillside and stood again gazing at the astounded white man, then plunged into the wilderness and was lost to sight, although the cracking of branches for some time afterward betrayed its hurried progress through the woods.
Coming to the place where it had stood when first seen, Mr. King found that the wild creature had been engaged at a little water hole in washing edible grass roots, a pile of the cleaned roots, neatly made, resting at one side of the hole. No further meeting with the wild man fell to the cruiser's lot, although he heard at intervals his curious cries, as he sat all night by a roaring fire and waited for any sequel to the adventure--his rifle across his knees.
There is no conclusive and satisfactory explanation of the phenomenon. Mr. King has brought the matter up time and again in his talks with Indians, whose confidence he enjoys. Bit by bit he has patched together their theory and tribal tradition, by which it appears that they credit the coming of the original wild man to the days of the Spanish occupation of certain of the West Coast ports. At one of these, Nootka, it is alleged, an immense hairy creature, either baboon or ape, escaped from one of the ships, and after terrorizing the aboriginal inhabitants proceeded to make itself at home in the forest. Thence it is alleged to have issued upon one occasion and seized an Indian girl, with whom it set up housekeeping. The wild man seen by Mr. King is believed by the Indians to have been the offspring.
As to whether this could be possible, the scientific authorities appear to differ. Mr. King does not often tell the story of his adventure, since the majority are apt to ventilate sarcastic observations that grow tiresome. He is in earnest, however, and any timberman on the north Pacific Coast will attest his reliability. Nor is a man who has spent three-quarters of his life in the primeval solitudes, never tastes liquor, and has few superiors as a woodsman, apt to see things in the woods not actually existent.
Morning Astorian, July 7, 1904, page 7
STORY TOLD OF INDIAN DEVILS OF THE SIXES
(By R. M. Harrison)
Back in the middle '70s the South Sixes River was a rather lively mining camp. The tales of rich gravel and big nuggets had attracted gold hunters from far and wide, and as the district was very difficult of access owing to the roughness of the mountain region surrounding it, only the most daring and rugged stampeders ventured in.
However, many of those who were fortunate enough to get a claim along the river were sure of a golden harvest, as some of the miners had taken as much as $1,000 from a single crevice. There were not claims enough to go around owing to the great number of miners, and those without claims busied themselves by prospecting, hunting or helping claim owners with their work--and as the country at that time teemed with wildlife, plenty of elk, deer and bear made an easy meat supply for the camp.
There were three groups of cabins in the camp in a stretch of about three miles--one at the mouth of Butcher Creek, called Butchertown--another a mile up the river at Alder Gulch called Bear Pen, and two miles farther up the river at Rusty Creek was Wendelville; all three little hamlets nestling in picturesque grandeur, but busy little gold mining centers.
Furnishing meat for the camp was quite an industry and was equal, in the matter of dollars and cents, to a claim along the river. The chief nimrod of the district was Mike Madigan, a typical woodsman and hunter, and as he bore scars of some former hand-to-paw combat with a peeved grizzly he earned the name of Grizzly Mike, and for short they called him "Griz."
Griz was a privileged character wherever he went. His entire equipment consisted of his rifle, belt of cartridges, dragoon six-shooter, loaded, bowie knife, packsack and two big yellow-sided, black-backed, long-eared hounds, which he called Bounder and Sounder. Old Griz had a world of confidence in his equipment and everything but the dogs was pretty well notched, but no one ever had the nerve to ask him about them for fear of getting notched himself. Everybody's latch string hung out to old Griz, for he nearly always had a shoulder or a ham in his packsack.
Along in the fall of 1876 the maples were taking on a golden hue. The old buck deer and elk were pretty well tallow-coated, and the bear were getting nice and oily, and everything in the whole district was tranquil. It was late in October, and all the miners are Bear Pen had returned to their respective abodes for the night. It was getting late when it was noticed that one of the cabins, that of John Jenson, showed no signs of life, and investigation revealed that Jenson was absent. Search for him began, and he was soon found lying badly beaten and unconscious in the portal of his tunnel. Everything possible was done to restore the injured miner, but to no avail, and he soon passed on to the great beyond and took that horrid secret with him.
NO CLUES TO DEATH
Jenson had no enemies, and no motive or clue for the heinous crime could be found, and as a result a weird gloom settled over the entire district. For several days the miners sought to unravel the mystery, but to no avail. The heavy gray blood-stained rock that was found by the prostrate victim, weighing four pounds and unlike any other stone in the district, evidently the instrument of death, only served to plunge the whole affair deeper into the realm of mystery.
Old Griz had taken his hounds to the scene and started them to work. He watched them closely, as they seemed to scent a cold trail along a deep and bluffy ridge leading up to Star Mountain. Griz put his fingers to his lips and blew a shrill whistle and the two hounds came bounding back to him. "What's wrong, Griz" asked one of his companions. "Them dogs are afeared of something. I never saw them act like this before. 'Taint no bear nor mountain lion. It is something pretty bad," was the reply.
Old Griz was puzzled, and as he walked slowly back to his cabin his mind was deeply absorbed in the affair of Jenson's mysterious death. He knew his two dogs feared neither man nor beast, and now it was plain to him that they were scared. He knew that when old Sounder and Bounder got their designs on an old bruin, that if he couldn't take wings like a crow and leave the earth, he was in for a good "washing up," and too that if anything got in range of his old Sharps, there would be soap in that bathwater.
The affair dragged wearily on for a few days when one Sunday morning "Doc" Elgin, one of the miners, was strolling down the river. The autumn sun had just broken over Dusty Butte and was flooding the river with sunshine. He had just rounded a sharp bend when his eyes fell on an uncanny creature standing at the water's edge gazing into the water. The thing stood about six feet six, would weigh 250 pounds, had powerful shoulders and long, powerful arms; his legs were short, and his strong and bowed head was low on the shoulders with heavy jaws, and the entire body was covered with a short coat of yellowish brown hair. While Elgin was standing there horrified looking at the beast man, it turned with catlike quickness and gazed directly at him, those big, bulging black eyes seeming to burn right into him, then with the swiftness of a deer it turned and bounded away into the dense woods.
HUGE TRACK FOUND
Elgin went back to camp and reported what he had seen and a crowd went back with him to the place, and there in the sand were the tracks of the monster measuring 16 inches in length and about 8 inches across the toes. Griz put the hounds on the trail, and when they took the scent they lifted their bristles and started working very cautiously along the trail. Griz watched the dogs for a minute and then whistled them back to him, remarking, "I guess that's a little bigger game than you boys are used to, and besides it's a two-to-one bet that this is the thing that got John Jenson."
The story soon reached the outside world, and it was learned that there was a legend among the Indians about the tribe of Swalalahists that lived on the Sixes River and were called Indian Devils by the natives. They were feared above all things else, and no Indian would ever venture into the Upper Sixes River country for fear of meeting one of them. The Sixes River mining district, although very rich, soon became very unpopular on account of the incident and by midwinter only about half a dozen men were left. Among them was Griz, who lived alone at Butchertown, working his claim or hunting as the occasion would permit.
MONSTER KILLS DOGS
One day in midwinter old Griz took his dogs up among the crags and caverns on Mt. Avery to try for a bear, as they usually went in there to keg up during the rough winter storms. He got up to a good vantage point where he could cover the landscape and started the hounds out to bolt the game. The dogs had been gone but a short time when they began to bay savagely. Thinking they had tackled a bad lion that would stand and fight, he started for them, and just as he got in sight he saw the Indian Devil spring on one of the hounds. It was like a flash and the dog was hurled over a bluff and fell lifeless among the rocks 80 feet below, and before he could raise his rifle to shoot, the other dog followed and was also crushed on the rocks below. He fired at the monster as it disappeared, but was not sure he had hit it. He was now helpless with his dogs both gone and he could not follow the thing into its den, so he had to give up the fight.
This incident caused a still further thinning of the ranks of the miners till there were only two men left, an old fellow that they called Ramrod at Wendelville and old Griz at Butchertown. Along in the spring Ramrod came out and reported that he had not seen Griz since the dogs were killed and it was supposed that he too had gone, until some 10 years later, when some men were opening up his claim the found the skeleton of a man buried under a pile of boulders in the ground sluice, which was identified as that of Madigan by the bowie and dragoon. How he had come by his death is a mystery till this day.
DEATHS ARE MYSTERY
A little plot on Huckleberry Knoll, overlooking Bear Pen Flat, holds the remains of four men whose death is still a mystery. They are Johnson, McLoan, Madigan and Jenson. Only two years ago the writer visited the spot and noticed the brush has encroached on its sacred bounds until it is hard to find the place. However, theirs must be a peaceful rest beneath the tall waving firs, where the summer breezes hum in pleasant chime, and the winter blasts throb with sullen roar. All four of them have gone to the land from which no traveler returns, leaving no trace of light on the mystery that surrounds their untimely demise.
Serialized in the Myrtle Point Herald, April 23, 1936 (page 1) and April 30, 1936 (page 5)
WEIRD LAUGHTER HALTS MINING NEAR SIXES
(BY R. M. HARRISON)
When gold was first discovered in northern Curry County, especially in the Sixes River, there wasn't much of a stampede, and it was some years later before there was any real rush to that district. There weren't any settlers along the coast, Port Orford being the main town and shipping point along that part of the seaboard. About the only enterprise of any extent around Port Orford at that time was lumbering, and that was very limited, as the port at that place was very hard to get in or out of at times.
The mountain region back of Port Orford was very wild, and not much was known of it. There was at that time a tribe of Indians living at the head of the North Sixes, and more of them on the Rogue and Coquille rivers, and this added to the danger of the "paleface" in prowling around on the hunting grounds of the redmen. When it was found that the South Sixes was rich in placer gold, it created that irresistible desire among the miners to wander into the headwaters of the stream to try and locate the source of the gold.
THE INDIAN DEVILS
At that time the country was wild, the attitude of the Indians toward the paleface uncertain, and besides there was a legend of the tribe of "Swalalahist" or "Indian Devils" that lived in caves back along the "Iron" Range. These legendary creatures were said to be huge, uncanny apelike men whose language was only a low, mirthless laughter, ending in a deep and sullen snarl. Some of the very earliest explorers of that country were said to have seen these ape men and to have had some trouble with them, but this fact has never been confirmed.
All these dangers that would shadow one's trail into that region added to its unpopularity, and only the most daring old gold hunters would venture to go in and take a chance. Early in the '60s two old stampeders, Sam Hoyte and Franz Bailey, ventured out to explore the headwaters of the South Sixes River. It was in the early summer, and the weather was fine for camping.
CAMP IN WILDS
They were in near Caesars Head, a very rough section of the country, and had run across some caverns in the side of the mountains that appeared to have been inhabited by some large animals, but they saw nothing of the inhabitants. Feeling that it was none too safe to fool around there, they headed down into Grub Creek, where they made camp for the night. They thought it strange that there was no sign of Indians, not even trails or campsites. This made them feel more secure, and they set in for a good night's rest from their hard day's travel.
They picked the campsite at the upper end of a deep and narrow box canyon. They did some panning in the gravel and found that there was good pay in the stream, and went to bed feeling quite cheerful over their prospects. About midnight, Franz, aroused by some sound, sat up to listen. His ear had caught a sound that startled him, and he shook his sleeping companion and aroused him, saying, "Listen, Sam. Somebody is laughing down in that canyon." Sam sat up and listened for a few minutes, then with a disgusted laugh said, "What have you been drinking, Franz? They ain't no one down in that thar old black canyon this time of night."
A SECOND ALARM
Sam lay down again and Franz, thinking it might have been his imagination from thinking about the Indian devils, also lay down and was soon asleep. The two men had slept for some time when Franz was suddenly aroused by Sam. "Come, Franz," he said, "Get your gun--hear that? They are comin' up the canyon a thousand strong, by gum. Hear 'em laugh. Get a move on. They'll be on us afore you know it."
The full moon was sending rays of light through the openings in the dense forest, which made the scene more weird. The two men were gathering up their effects as fast as possible, getting ready to break camp. The loud and ringing laughter came nearer and nearer till they almost seemed to be in sight, when to their surprise a deep hush fell on them, and only the sound of the rippling water could be heard.
IN HUSHED SUSPENSE
The men stood in silent amazement for a moment, when Franz said, "What the tarnation is that, and what are they doin' here this time of night?" "Goodness knows," replied Sam. "It might be them Indian Devils, so keep your gun ready. They might be slippin' up on us." The men stood for some time in dread suspense, all ready to give battle to their seeming assailants, but nothing showed up. Presently away down the gorge, barely in hearing, they caught the sound again. "Come on, Franz," said Sam. "Let's be on our way. Just leave the pick and shovel lay right thar. We must get out while the gettin' is good."
With this they took off up a long ridge heading up to Ferris Butte, and as they made their way they could still hear the laughter echoing about the hills. Once they reached the top of the butte they felt more secure and sat down for a breathing spell. The full moon had lit the surroundings so that it was easy to make out their way, and by daylight they reached Wendelville, at the mouth of Rusty Gulch, where there were several miners living.
A DEEP MYSTERY
They related their strange experience to the other men. Some felt that it was a fairy tale, and to others it cast an awe [aura?] of mystery. When they spoke of their prospect of gold in the stream and refused to go back, this made things more mysterious. However, Hoyte and Bailey blew on out of the country, leaving their pick and shovel leaning against the big fir tree to mark the place from when they had fled. Their weird story hung heavily over the district for several years, and no one had dared to go and look for their pick-and-shovel landmark. The district was well filled with miners and the story finally went stale, but the gold in the creek had gained more strength.
TWO MORE ADVENTURERS
One fine summer morning, two old hard-boiled knights of the gold pan set out to locate the old Pick and Shovel lost mine, or as it was sometimes called, Laughing Devil Canyon lost mine. These two old walking beaneries were Bob Stone and Bill Kenny. Their long suit was hunting for lost cabins, lost soldier mines or anything else that had a lost mystery mixed in, and when they were warned to look out for the laughing devils in the canyon, they felt as if the devil never did laugh, and if he did he would have a hard time laughing them out of good diggin's.
So with plenty of confidence in their ability to locate the lost Pick and Shovel diggin's, and to withstand any assault from the big "ha-ha" in the old black canyon, they took off up Ferris Butte to pick up the vague description of the route back to the mysterious lost camp, deserted several years before by Hoyte and Bailey.
Fortune seemed to smile on them in their venture, and by late afternoon, after a hard day's journey, they sure enough found the old campsite, and there, leaning against the big fir tree, was the pick and shovel, badly rusted and handles all moss covered. Eureka! They said, and now for the prospect of gold. This was soon settled, as after panning some of the gravel it proved to be a splendid prospect.
The two men quickly put up their camp and after supper sat down for a much-needed rest. They were in high spirits over the good showing in the gravel and no doubt were counting on some good cleanup later on, when they would get to shoveling into sluice boxes. As they sat there enjoying the fine summer evening, they could see the last ray of the setting sun tingeing the summit of Caesars Head. Night was drawing her curtains around, and the landscape seemed to take on a gathering gloom.
Old Bob burst out laughing. "What the blazes tickles your fun?" said Bill, "I suppose you think you'll get the start on them laughin' spooks down thar in that old dungeon of a canyon." "No," said Bob, "I was just thinking how gol darn funny it must a' been for them two old cowards to get so scared at nothin' and to vamoose out of here in the night, besides leaving such good diggin's. Why they was sure crazy." "That might all be so,' said Bill, "but you know laughin's catchin' and I don't believe I'd laugh till we've been down and looked that old canyon over. You can't tell what might be livin' down in that."
At this juncture a night bird let out a shrill screech that resounded in and 'round the canyon, adding more to the gathering gloom. The two men sat in silence and said, "It does look kinda dismal here, and maybe we'd better look things over tomorrow and see if there is anything in that yarn of them fellers that got scared out. Everything here is all just like they said, and it does seem strange that they would leave such good prospects."
INKY BLACK NIGHT
As the night drew on, they both seemed to be in a dread suspense and uneasiness. The night was inky black, and only a few stars peeped through the openings among the trees. Worn and tired, they both lay down and were soon fast asleep. At dawn the early birds began to sing and the sun's rays were finding their way down to the sleeping men. Much refreshed from their night's rest, they roused and began preparing to cook their morning meal.
"Well," said Bill, "Nothin' got us last night, an' I guess this ain't such a bad place after all." "I dunno," said Bob, "I dreamed that there was a man killed down in that canyon one time, and that kinda gives me the shivers." After breakfast the two men started down through the gorge to explore its length. The trip down was very rough and difficult for travel. There were no signs of any life except where some bear had torn down the salmonberry brush in search of berries.
NOTHING TO ALARM
After exploring the canyon and surrounding hillsides, they felt sure there was nothing around to be in any way alarmed about and decided that the laughing Indian Devils had left the country. The remainder of the day was put in at fixing up camp, and by nightfall they were quite well housed in a bark shanty. The evening was spent in planning their work of making sluice boxes, trails, cabin, etc., until late in the night when they finally lay down for another good night's rest, and as nothing had molested them the night before, they were not quite so susceptible to the gloom that settles on the nights in those deep, dark canyons.
They had slept until about midnight when Bill suddenly aroused and called to his companion, "List," he said, "did you hear that yell? Sounds like someone callin' for help." "Where was it?" asked Bob. "Down in the canyon," said Bill, and "Sh! sh!" he continued. "Hear that?" "By gum, that 's them thar laughin' spooks. What in heck shall we do/ Let's stay right here and see what it is, and if they get us, we're got, that's all," was the answer. "OK, Bob," said Bill, "get the old .44 and we'll make it hot for 'em if they come too darn close."
On came the merry revelers, their ringing mirth echoing along the hillsides. "By golly," said Bill, "let's join 'em when they get here. Anyone as happy as they be surely wouldn't hurt anybody." "What do you mean they won't hurt you? That's a lot of real goblins, and they are warnin' us to get out of here, and I'm sure goin' if the sun ever comes up again. No gold in the gravel will ever stop me, and if you want to join 'em go ahead and do it, and leave me out."
A deep hush fell on the blackness of the night. The merrymakers had fled, and old Bill and Bob sat there nursing their old Colt '44s. "What do you think of it now, Bill?" said Bob. "Well, it sure is spooky," said Bill, "and another whirl like that would sure start me climbing out of here right now, and if I ever live to see daylight I will sure go." "Me too," said Bob, "and everybody that wants these diggin's can have my part of 'em," and as he spoke he lifted his hand with a "Sh! There they are again."
MIRTH FADES AWAY
They could hear only a few of the merrymakers. It seemed as if they were very weak in their laughter, which seemed to die away and mingle with the rippling of the water rushing over the many little falls. "That settles it with me," said Bill. "It's too spooky here for me." Daylight found old Bill and Bob all packed up and on their way back out to Wendelville, and by mid-afternoon they were once more in civilization. They related their experience to the other miners and they, too, drifted on, leaving their weird tale behind them.
The story traveled far and wide and had many versions, and the location was always the mystery part of it. No one knew where Laughing Devil Canyon really was until early in 1896, when Monroe and Williams struck diggin's on Grub Creek. They built a cabin, made a string of sluice boxes and began operation. They called the place Gold Bug and had lived there for two months before they ever heard of anything. They had been getting back from a big fir snag and found an old pick and shovel that was almost rusted away, but thought nothing of it, as they had never heard of the Pick and Shovel lost mine.
A GLOOMY CANYON
It was in March and late in the evening when the two men were preparing to retire. The ground was covered with half a foot of snow, and it was still snowing. The landscape was still and gloomy; the only sound to be heard was the water as it gurgled and splashed down over the boulders in the streambed. All of a sudden the men were startled by the sound of someone singing far away down in the gorge. "Who can that be, out in such a night?" "Listen," one said, "Hear the laughter; doggone, there is a crowd, and they are coming." The two men went outside to see who it could be, as they sounded near the cabin.
"Well, that's a funny thing. Where did they all go to so quick?" Williams let out a big whoop, but no reply. They went back in the cabin and began to wonder what it all meant. Presently they heard it again, very faint at first, but as it neared it was more distinct, and when it reached the head of the gorge it would stop. Williams and Monroe were puzzled at this strange phenomenon, and were at a loss to understand what it all meant. However, they remained for two years and never once did they ever hear it again. Gold Bug was abandoned until 1930 when a man named Ackerman with his wife rebuilt the place and lived there for a year.
While they lived there, they had on several occasions heard the laughter and enjoyed listening to it, but it had no regular time. It would occur in any kind of weather and at any time, but was always the same.
LEGEND IS DOUBTED
It is no doubt that this was the phenomenon that was responsible for the legend of the tribe of Swalalahist or the Laughing Indian Devils, and finally got to be the story of the Sixes Wildman.
At any rate, the story goes that a number of persons have seen something resembling a big ape that could jump a rod or more and hurl a stone with the speed of a bullet, and as a rule it has been some Doubting Thomas that has seen the apparition. Laughing Canyon is really a mysterious thing, as all who have heard the laughter agree that it can cast an uncanny spell over one that is hard to explain.
Serialized in the Myrtle Point Herald July 9, 1936 (page 1) and July 16, 1936 (page 4)
APE MAN STORY OF SOUTH SIXES BY OLDTIMER
R. M. Harrison
One of the most remote stories of the Southwestern Oregon country is the legend of the South Sixes River ape man. The folklore of the very early day miners of the Sixes gold field is spiced with tales of an uncanny creature resembling a huge monkey. Most of those that had ever come in contact with old Saucer Eyes, as he was called, were shocked by his sudden appearance and surprised at his rapid "getaway." It was a saying among the miners that one could be on the constant lookout for the old scamp and never see him, but the very minute you would forget about him, he would bob up and scare the wits out of you.
Some very exciting and yet amusing incidents have been related by the early day miners in the Sixes district. One of the wild man tales that held the middle of the stage back in the early days was that of a Swede who had located a claim on Upper Rusty Creek. Ban Jensen was the name of this big blond from Stockholm. When Ban blew into the "diggin's" the miners along Rusty took a liking to the big lad and helped him with his location, and also to build a cabin. Ban soon found himself snugly tucked into fairly good quarters with a stretch of creek bed that looked good as a placer mine.
Ban had heard of old Saucer Eyes, and when some of the miners were giving him an earful of the ape man stuff, he listened intently. When he got the full story, he laughed long and loud, and then said, "By yiminy ay tank das bane fooney story. You youst lat das ole moonkey coome by my shack and ay knock da stoofin oot of ham. Ay gaave hum good lacken." Ban's idea of old Saucer Eyes was the source of a great deal of merriment among the miners, and some of them hoped that the old guy would pay a visit to Jensen's camp.
Time drew along, and Ban had reached bedrock and was beginning to make it pay. He was all absorbed in his work and was more than pleased with his prospects, as he had picked up a few of the nuggets for which Rusty Creek was famous.
One fine balmy evening Ban was starting to clean up his sluices when he noticed the water was muddy and came down the sluices in rushes. This puzzled him, and he started up the line to see what the trouble was. He had taken but a few steps when he looked up and to his amazement there was old Saucer Eyes walking leisurely down in his sluices.
The sight paralyzed Ban for a moment. He tried to yell, but could not. The next thing that entered his mind was to run. "By yiminy ay go now, before das beeg moonkey eat me oop." And with this Ban got in high, "a-leavin' the country." He started down the narrow trail at full speed ahead, and after a quarter of a mile dash he heard a noise in the trees, and looking up he saw old Saucer Eyes jumping from tree to tree along over the trail, and keeping those big yellow eyes riveted on the fleeing Swede.
"Yumpin' yiminy, ay tank maybe he get me yat," thought Ban as he doubled his efforts for speed. Just as he rounded another curve, a loud whoop greeted his ears. "It youst bane too bad for myself now," thought Ban, but when he came to his senses, he saw two of the miners, with their rifles across their shoulders, standing by the trail. "What's the hurry, lad?" they called to him. "Oh, by yingo, ay youst rooning away. Old moonkey face try to catch me. He bane cooming pretty quick."
The two hunters coaxed the Swede to go back with them, whereupon they went cautiously back up the train and, seeing nothing of the beast, continued back to Ban's cabin. It was late when they got to the cabin and the men decided to stay all night, thinking they might get a shot at old Saucer Eyes if he should return.
However, nothing ever showed up, although the men kept a close watch all night. Ban was all worked up over his big scare and stuck to his story that old Saucer Eyes was trying to catch him. He only stayed to work out his claim when Adolph Mueller, a husky German, went in with him.
Ad and Ban did well on the claim, which was the last claim on Rusty Creek that paid. It is said to have been very rich in coarse gold and specimen quartz.
Some of the boulder piles that Ban and Ad put up still remain standing, but few of the present-day prospectors ever suspect what panorama was enacted at this place these many years ago.
Any tale coming down through the ages is apt to find a side road, or in other ways become distorted--or it may be that Ban had soaked up a "leetle too much vodka." Anyway, this is how we find this story, and it may be that some could still get a thrill out of it, if they went over in to Rusty and took a gallon of vodka.
Myrtle Point Herald, February 4, 1937, page 1
INDIAN DEVIL OF SIXES SCARES OUT MINERSAmong the old-time stories that have come down through the years from the South Sixes mining district is the one told by two old prospectors, Jack Hoff and Bill Romain.
By R. M. HARRISON
It was in the early autumn of 1873 that the two miners had received word of "rich diggin's" on Rusty Creek, and heading out from the beach mines of Whiskey Run where they had been "beachcombing" they made their way toward the new Eldorado.
The road to Rusty Creek led down the coast to the Sixes River, then up that stream some 20 or 30 miles to their goal. Loaded with their heavy packs on their backs and the little dog Fritz frisking along, they plodded along their way. After several days of tramping over rough mountain trails they finally landed at their destination, the little three-cabin hamlet of Wendelville at the mouth of Rusty Creek.
The sun was hanging in the western sky when two leg-weary travelers rounded a turn in the trail and, looking some few hundred yards away, on a bar by the river they could see the haven of their goal.
"Well, thar she is, Bill," said Jack, "and, by crackie, it don't look as if there was anybody around."
"I don't like the looks of things around here," said Bill. "If half the stuff they said about these diggin's was so, there'd be a thousand men here in sight. I'll bet it's another humbug, and we're two foolish suckers."
"Well," said Bill, "we'll have to make the best of it." And at this they sauntered on over and prepared for the night.
"Hey, Jack," shouted Bill, "come look here. See, this is a dandy layout--good cabin and everything all ready for campin'. And there ain't been a soul here for weeks."
"Somethin's wrong here," said Bill. "I was just down to the creek whar they been minin', and in the sand along the bar is the allfiredest tracks I ever seen, and they ain't neither human or bear tracks either. And look, too. Thar's been something sleeping in that bunk in the corner. It's been climbin' in at the openin' in the wall. See, it's torn the shakes off to git in."
"Aw, shucks," Bill laughed, "that hole is too high for that. See, it's way higher'n my head."
"Mebbe so," said Jack, "but we'll find out afore mornin'. Anyway, let's tack this old blanket over the hole to keep out the cold air."
After a supper of flapjacks, beans, bacon and coffee, the two men began preparing their bunks for a good night's rest. Bill had got his bunk fixed and had sat down to enjoy his pipe. They were discussing the situation and planning for the morrow when they noticed Fritz standing by the door with his bristles up and growling.
"Hush," said Bill, "thar's something outside. See, the pup's growlin'. What the blazes do you suppose it is?"
"Why, it sounds like someone walkin'," said Jack. "Listen! It's at that hole, and look, it's pullin' at the old blanket!"
At this Bill grabbed up his old .45 Colt and began to aim at the opening. The blanket began moving slowly to one side and Jack said, "Don't shoot, Bill, it's a man."
At that instant a huge, dark face peered from behind the blanket--a face with a low, shaggy forehead, large gleaming black eyes, short flat nose, glistening tusks protruding from the corners of a large mouth, and heavy woolly chin. The two men stood spellbound as they gazed into the glaring eyes, while Fritz was yelping with all his might.
"Hello, there," shouted Bill, his finger trembling on the trigger of his old .45. "You'd better speak or I'll shoot."
The only response was the old blanket moving quickly back over that horrid face, and at the same instant a deafening crash broke the silence, and a leaden slug sped out through the opening in the wall.
"Gosh all fishhooks, Bill," said Jack. "You've killed a man."
"Man, me eye," said Bill; "that was Old Nick in person, and I pulled a second too late."
The blast from the old .45 rolled out and echoed among the mountains for a spell and then died away in the blackness of the night.
"Jumpin' Jehoshaphat!" said Jack. "If that's the kind of critters that roam these hills it's no wonder this place is vacant. And if I'm alive when the sun comes up again, I'll be on my way outen here."
"And I'll be right on your heels, too," said Bill, "for I'm givin' my right and title of this place to that old 'Saucer Eyes,' and if all the gold in Kingdom Come was piled up here, the deal would be just the same."
All through the night the men kept a close vigil till the autumn sun sent its long rays of light down through the giant firs and cedars that fringed the landscape for miles. Then the blue jays in search of berries out among the yew woods began to chatter, bringing the tidings of a new day. Soon the two old "stampeders" emerged from the door of the cabin, all packed and ready to travel.
They soon reached the bend in the trail where they would get a farewell squint at Wendelville. Looking back, they both said "adios" and moved on, taking with them the story of their weird experience. And today as the casual passerby rounds that same bend in the trail and looks across and sees the vague remains of those tumbled-down cabins, little does he dream of that panorama which was enacted that autumn night back in '73. And yet he will wonder why such a beautiful spot as that, nestling away out in the heart of the hills, is so lonely.
However, the region around Rusty and Benson creeks has long held the front page in the stories of the tribe of "Swalalahist," and many quaint and weird folklore tales have found their way into print, giving rise to the idea of the "Wildman" of the Sixes or the "Indian Devil" of Caesars Head.
Myrtle Point Herald, August 5, 1937, page 1
Is 'Nugget' Tom's Lost Gold Ledge Haunted?
BY DALE VINCENTIn 1871 "Nugget" Tom had a small gold claim in Star Gulch near the headwaters of the Sixes River in Curry County.
Copyright 1947, by Dale Vincent
For a long time he had been wondering if there wasn't a ledge up above him that his placer gold had all come from. If he could find that it would make him rich.
But "Nugget" Tom was a little old for rough mountain climbing, and this region was one of the wildest and steepest of the Oregon mountains.
Nevertheless, in the fall of 1871 "Nugget" Tom packed his gold pan, pick and shovel and with food for several days made his way steadily up Star Mountain at the head of Star Gulch.
It was a long and tedious job, hammering and pecking at each favorable-looking outcropping, but evening found him high above, on the wild, lonely mountainside, where he made a dry camp.
The next day dawned bright and clear, but "Nugget" Tom was uneasy. He felt that someone or something was watching him. Doggedly he kept at his job, but quite often he would catch himself whirling to look back. Carefully he would scan the bushes. Not a thing was in sight.
Old Tom then laughed at his fears and finally, high on a ledge, his hammer knocked off a piece of quartz that fairly took his breath away. It was rich with free gold. Hurriedly he knocked off sample after sample, which he stowed in his packsack.
With quick, furtive glances behind, and with his pack hanging heavily on his back, he started for his cabin far below.
Coming to a sheer cliff, thirty feet high,"Nugget" Tom sat down to rest. Momentarily he had forgotten his fear of something watching him, and as he sat down overlooking the gulch below, disaster struck from behind.
The next day a searching party found Tom, broken up at the foot of the cliff, but still alive. They carried him home to his cabin and patched him up.
One of the search party saw a lump in Tom's jacket pocket. Taking this out, he saw as rich a piece of gold quartz as he had ever seen.
Tom, being unconscious, could tell them nothing, so two of the boys went back to the foot of the cliff, There they picked up Tom's gold pan, pick and shovel. His pack had broken open, and the rich specimens were strewn down the mountainside. These they recovered and went back to camp, hoping to get some information from Tom as to where he had found them, so they could stake a claim.
Many days later, when "Nugget" Tom had regained consciousness, he would not talk.
For many weeks, when he was up and hobbling around his cabin, Tom tried to piece together the mystery of what had hurled him over the cliff, and why. For he had come to the conclusion that he had been pushed over, by someone or something.
The next spring, Tom again headed for the fabulous ledge, determined to be more alert this time. Quietly one day he sneaked away with pack, pick and pan--and there was a gun this time, which he intended to use if necessary.
Now six months later, however, he did not have the feeling of someone watching him. But the hard fall had done something to "Nugget" Tom's mind. He could not find the ledge again.
For four years he hunted, continually getting more feeble, and as he was somewhere around 80 years old, he gave up the disheartening hunt, and left the country.
In 1899, twenty-eight years later, in the spring, two prospectors by the name of Robbins and Benson decided to put forth a concentrated effort to find "Nugget" Tom's lost gold ledge.
So outfitting themselves for a prolonged stay in the mountains they started for the head of Star Gulch on the south fork of the Sixes River, with a determination few prospectors have.
Thoroughly they studied the mountainside for any indications. A trace led them up a little streambed to its very source, a spring that dried in the summer, but was now running freely. On a ledge above the spring they struck it--but on close examination it was found to be not the ledge of "Nugget" Tom.
But it was rich, so they worked and carried crushed rock to be panned down by the spring.
At noon they knocked off for lunch and fried their bacon and bannocks over a little fire and rejoiced over their accomplishment.
On returning to the ledge, Benson looked back and froze in his tracks as he pulled his gun. Robbins also whirled and looked back toward camp and pulled his gun--but not soon enough to stop this thing from throwing all their camp stuff over the cliff.
It was neither man nor beast, they said afterwards. It was big and powerful, stood erect, and there was a yellow fuzz over its body.
They started to shoot as it bounded out of sight, but none of their bullets seemed to take effect, and the wild man disappeared.
They named their mine "The Wild Man," and soon sold it.
But no one ever came to work it--although rich rock showed in sight.
The reason for its abandonment was probably due to the wild man episode, which story was all the more fearful because of a previous series of unexplained deaths which took place in the middle '70s, a year or so after "Nugget" Tom had left the country.
Four men were already buried in a little graveyard on Huckleberry Knoll, overlooking Bear Pen Flats. Their names were Johnson, McLean, Madigan and Jenson.
WILD MEN: Believed Responsible for Mystery DeathsThe deaths of these four men occurred over a period of time and each was murdered, or died in such on mysterious way that it has never been explained.
Circumstances and clues, however, in each case indicated that the victim had met his fate at the hands of one of the mysterious wild men.
There was a legend amongst the Indians about a lost tribe of Indian devils called the Swalalahists that lived on the upper reaches of the Sixes River, and were such demons that no other Indians would ever go into that country for fear of being killed by them. .
These Swalalahists or wild men, as seen by various miners, were described as standing well over six feet and a half tall, and weighed close to 260 pounds. They had heavy jaws, powerful shoulders and powerful torsos, and their entire bodies were covered with a short coat of yellowish fur. They were catlike in action, with bulging black eyes that burned into a man--and they could run and bound with the swiftness of a deer.
It is very possible that one of these yellow-coated Indian devils, the wild men of the upper Sixes, threw "Nugget" Tom over the bluff. and certainty it was a wild man of their description that destroyed Robbins' and Benson's camp equipment.
One of these wild men even had his tracks measured by a man by the name of "Doc" Elgin, who, one early autumn morning as the sun came up over Rusty Butte, was going for a pail of water. As he approached the stream his eyes fell on an unbelievable creature standing at the water's edge.
The thing bounded away immediately, but not fast enough to take his tracks with him. These, "Doc" proceeded to measure.
It has been recorded that the monster's tracks measured sixteen inches in length and eight inches across at the toes.
It is not hard to believe that the above stories have kept the upper Sixes unpopular and unpopulated, and it is quite possible that "Nugget" Tom's rich quartz judge still lies broken, in plain sight for those who would care to run their chances with the wild men--if they are still there.
Oregonian, Portland, November 9, 1947, page 67
BIGFOOT BY ANY OTHER NAME
A letter comes our way from Mrs. [Virginia] Card of Jacksonville, Oregon, concerning our good friend, Bigfoot . . . of whom we hear little these days. . . .
"As a sort of 'byproduct' of researching," Mrs. Card writes, "the Takelma Indians (formerly inhabiting Southern Oregon), I am collecting materials for some writing on the subject [of] 'Yap-a Daldi,' or 'Bigfoot,' or 'Abominable Snowman,' et al.
"These Takelma had a legend of both 'Yap-a Daldi' (large, hairy, half-human) and 'Dini-Dini' (smaller than a 6-year-old, of super strength, also half-human). Both races were timid but good friends to the Takelma, exchanging help for heavy work, and burdens, for 'lessons in man-living.' The legends state that these people bade their friends farewell on the coming of the white man and went 'deep into the forest where none could ever find them.'
"It is also interesting to note the Esquimaux of the far north also have a legend of the giant men, and they will show you the massive igloos, well preserved by perpetual freeze, to substantiate the legend.
"In all probability the Hupa, Karok, Yurok, Tarawas and other neighboring Athapascans have similar legends which can be traced by questioning older survivors of these tribes.
"I would like to hear of any recent sightings or experiences in your area. . . ."
So would RFD . . . but, Bigfoot has been very quiet lately . . . or else he's being allowed to be his own self, and enjoy the country to his heart's content. . . .
Mrs. Card adds: "Your readers might want to know that my only experience was last summer when I found a single footprint, clearly defined in roadside silt on Bishop Creek Road in the Applegate area. . . ."
Andrew Genzoli, "RFD," Humboldt Times, Eureka, California, March 1, 1963, page 15
Last revised September 5, 2020