Jo Ann Hereford, Willow Creek-China Flat Museum
(from the Spring 2003 California
At the end of 2002, news headlines in the
Pacific North-west blared that Bigfoot was a hoax. A Seattle resident, Ray Wallace, had
passed away around Thanksgiving and his children announced that he had
created the myth of Bigfoot.
Willow Creek-China Flat Museum members didn’t pay much attention to these
reports which claimed that Bigfoot tracks dating to the late 1950s were the
work of a prankster.
“You just have to look at the casts to see they weren’t made by the carved
feet in the news photos,” says Al Hodgson, a museum member who has long been
acquainted with Bigfoot investigators and others in the field. Al should
know — he has found tracks himself and was well acquainted with the antics
of Ray Wallace.
Though some tracks,
pictures and casts are acknowledged as hoax material, credible witnesses to
tracks as well as to the animal itself have come forward reporting their
observations to museum members — and the number of reports is growing.
More important, Al was instrumental in acquiring the Bob Titmus Bigfoot
artifact collection that now takes up an entire wing at the museum. The
Titmus collection contains over 25 original casts, most from Bigfoot tracks
found in northern California.
Ranging in size from 13
inches to 17 inches, the oldest casts date from 1958, barely three weeks
after the Jerry Crew cast was made. More recent casts were made in the
1980s. In addition, the museum will be acquiring a copy of the heel feature
from the Skookum cast made in 2000 in southern Washington state.
The “crown jewels” of the
collection are casts Titmus made just one week after the 1967 Patterson-Gimlin
clip often seen on television documentaries. Titmus visited the Bluff Creek
location and was able to make plaster casts of eight footprints.
The museum is now
planning a Bigfoot symposium tentatively scheduled for August 22, 23 and 24,
2003 in Willow Creek.
The symposium schedule will include presentations by university
anthropologists and anatomists regarding fossil evidence of a huge ape and
include primate locomotion studies. In addition, there will be reports about
Bigfoot sightings and research now in progress, as well as a guided visit to
the Patterson-Gimlin film site in Bluff Creek.
Dr. Jane Goodall is
expected to attend and will be the keynote speaker. Dr. Goodall spoke on
National Public Radio in September 2002 when she stated that she is sure
undiscovered large ape species such as the Yeti and Bigfoot do exist.