Posted by: Craig Woolheater on February 12th, 2006
This article was originally presented at the 2003 International Bigfoot Symposium by John Green. This is the final part of the presentation. Posted with John Green’s written consent.
The first part is available on Cryptomundo here.
The second part is available on Cryptomundo here.
The third part is available on Cryptomundo here.
The fourth part is available on Cryptomundo here.
The fifth part is available on Cryptomundo here.
The sixth part is available on Cryptomundo here.
The seventh part is available on Cryptomundo here.
The eighth part is available on Cryptomundo here.
I have said that the events at Bluff Creek in the 1950s and 60s can best be dealt with at the panel discussion tomorrow, but there is one aspect that very much involves the present, and perhaps I can dispose of it now.
I am referring to the claim made last year by his family that the late Ray Wallace the contractor on the road construction job where the first “Bigfoot” track was cast, made those footprints by walking around wearing a pair of wooden feet.
Had the first newspaper to carry the story behaved responsibly, and asked the Wallaces to demonstrate that they could duplicate those tracks with the wooden feet that they displayed as proof, that story would never have been printed. Instead it was treated as revealed truth, and it was republished and broadcast all over the world, with some wonderful embellishments.
One newspaper quoted a Wallace nephew saying that Ray had sent younger members of the clan out to make all of the big tracks that have been reported all over the continent. Others took a mention of Ray making movies of his wife in a fur suit and twisted it to include the Patterson movie.
Even the newspaper in Eureka, which had printed the original stories that introduced “Bigfoot” to the world, got on the bandwagon with a yarn about how the publisher at the time had known all along it was a Ray Wallace hoax.
It was a totally irresponsible performance by the media, and frankly a lot of people involved in Bigfoot research weren’t any better. Their reaction might be summed up as: “Okay, Ray Wallace faked the Bluff Creek tracks but we have other tracks that are genuine.”
They didn’t bother to find out, any more than the media did, whether the Wallace claims were true, and seemed perfectly willing to discard as evidence tracks that are the most thoroughly investigated and best authenticated of any that have ever been found.
The current Wallaces actually don’t show any sign of knowing much about the Bluff Creek tracks and may even believe that what they are saying is true, although one of them told Rick Noll that his father never actually said he had faked the tracks, they just grew up knowing he had.
The wooden feet that they showed the media, as you can see in the full-size photos of them on display here, do not match the original “Bigfoot”. They do appear to be attempts to duplicate the casts made by Bob Titmus of the different set of tracks he found on a Bluff Creek sandbar, but one of them is so crudely carved that they would not likely fool anybody.
I expect those feet were just made to see whether tracks could be faked with them, something that probably, like myself, some of you have also tried. The answer, of course, is that you can make passable tracks in flat ground if it is soft enough, but in firm materials or up and down slopes, forget it.
Some of the original tracks were in very firm materials, and some went up and down steep slopes. This museum has had an offer in circulation for several months now of $100,000 for anyone who can show how they could have been faked.
So far there is no sign that any Wallace cares to try for the money, but perhaps they haven’t heard of it. The same editors that swallowed whole their nonsensical story refused to believe a real one. Priding themselves, I suppose, on not falling for a publicity stunt, they gave the $100,000 offer no publicity at all.
Granted that the $100,000 was put up in an attempt to get publicity, since all other attempts to get the media to counteract the damage they had done had failed, but it is a genuine offer. The first person who can demonstrate how the Bluff Creek tracks could have been faked will be paid $100,000. Tomorrow, you when you hear the people who were involved at the time describe what they observed; I think you will agree that there is no cause for concern that the money will ever be claimed.
What is the story about Ray Wallace? I never met him, because he was never around Willow Creek the times I was here, but I was told early on about his reputation as a practical joker, and in later years I got occasional letters and phone calls from him.
According to newspaper stories he was pretty upset in 1958 about people suggesting he had faked the tracks, pointing out, undoubtedly correctly, that the whole thing was interfering with his contract and costing him money.
It wasn’t long, though, until he began to try to get in on the action, telling outlandish tales about his adventures with Bigfoot. He even tried to sell Tom Slick a movie of Bigfoot he that claimed to have taken. I wasn’t there, but I was told that Ray asked for $10,000 and wouldn’t show Tom the film until he had the money.
We had learned by then that Tom could be very gullible at times, but that wasn’t one of the times, so we never knew what would have happened if he had agreed to pay.
We thought then that it was an attempted swindle, but having learned more of Ray’s reputation from people who knew him well and admired him I feel sure now that it would have turned out to be just one of his pranks.
A while later, after he had returned to the area in Washington where he came from, Ray got involved in selling very odd looking footprint casts, supposedly from the Mount Saint Helen’s apes. I never heard that he had casts from Bluff Creek, and I’m sure he never claimed publicly that he had faked the tracks there; because he would certainly have been called on to prove it.
To give you something of the flavor of the man, I’ll quote a couple of passages from of his letters.
In 1961 he wrote to the Klam-ity Kourier, here in Willow Creek, as follows:
Big foot used to be very tame, as I have seen him almost every morning on my way to work… I would sit in my pickup and toss apples out of the window to him. He never did catch an apple but he sure tried. Then as he ate the apples I would have my movie camera clipping off more footage of him… I have talked to several movie companies about selling my movies which would last for three hours. The best offer I’ve had so far is $250,000.
A letter to me in April 1979, included the following:
… everyone says who has heard Big Foots screams in northern California, before all the Big Foots were killed and hauled down the Klamath River in a tug boat and out into the ocean 12 miles to where there was a small ship anchored in international waters and frozen into a block of ice and then transported to Hong Kong and sold, so now there aren’t any more left in northern California, or is there if they are being let out of flying saucers.
Everything Ray did was so transparently bogus that it seemed obvious he was just having fun. It is hard to imagine he expected his yarns to be believed, and although some writers back East swallowed the bait I don’t know of anyone involved in the sasquatch search in the West who took him seriously or felt that he was causing any sort of problem.
Ironically, he didn’t fool people on a grand scale until he wasn’t around to enjoy the joke, and unfortunately when it did happen it did real harm.
We will never know the full extent to which people or projects that could have made valuable contributions in this field have turned away or been turned down because the media fell for this silly story, but we do know of enough examples to establish that the effect will be substantial and long-lasting. Sasquatch hunting, however, has always been three steps forward, two steps back, so we will just take our lumps and carry on, undeterred.
In that vein I would like to close with one of my favorite memories from the days when Rene Dahinden and I were pioneers in this strange pursuit. We had been on a radio phone-in show for a couple of hours, back in 1963, when a man called in and said something like this:
“Don’t you idiots realize that there are two hundred million people in North America and you are the only two who take this stuff seriously.”
I don’t remember the caller’s exact words, but Rene’s reply still rings in my ears:
“Mister, there are two hundred and twenty million people in North America, and every bloody one of them is wrong!”
There may be an extra hundred million of them today, but there are also a lot more of us, and we are making real headway—so carry on.
I thought that I would sum up this piece by John with a quote from him:
“I will almost certainly die without it being solved, as has happened to so many of my friends. But I don’t regret the time I spent on it.” – John Green