Posted by: Craig Woolheater on November 2nd, 2006
THE ROOD BIGFOOT
Rood Creek Park can be an eerie place for reasons other than a possible Bigfoot sighting six years ago.
One reason is the alligators there along the river. They are long and thick and not to be toyed with. Another is the old Indian mounds adjacent to the campground and boat landing. Those earthen mounds predate the arrival of Europeans in the 1500s, and mark what once was a thriving village. Now only they remain, like grave mounds of the long departed.
Spanish moss hangs from the trees and shrouds the evening light, and as twilight fades to black, monsters may hide in the shadows.
PUBLISHED SEPT. 13, 2000.
BY TIM CHITWOOD, COLUMNIST.
Columbus (GA) Ledger-Enquirer
SEEN A BIGFOOT LATELY?
We have a confirmed story of a local bigfoot sighting.
Which means we have confirmed that someone told a story of encountering a large, threatening and possibly bigfoot-like creature within 50 miles of Columbus.
The story-telling happened two to three weeks ago at the BP Quick Stop on Alabama Highway 165 in Fort Mitchell, Ala. The women who run the store said a terrified young man came in there around 10:30 p.m. on a Thursday and said he needed to call a game warden right away.
He looked to be about 18, and "he was petrified," one of the women said. The guy said that he and his companion, a man in his late 30s or early 40s, had just fled from Rood Creek Park, a small campground and boat landing across the Chattahoochee River in Georgia, just south of Florence Marina. Fort Mitchell’s a fair distance from Rood, but the guy said the Quick Stop was the first open store they’d come to.
He said they had been camped at Rood when his dog, a yellow Labrador retriever, suddenly started making weird noises. It wasn’t like the dog was barking; it was more like the dog was screaming or crying. So he went to check on the dog, and when he did, he heard something big coming through the woods.
When it got closer, the guy could see that it was much bigger than he was. (The women in the store said he was about 6 feet tall.) It wasn’t clear whether he perceived it to have a human or ape-like form; he just said it towered over him and he could just barely make out its eyes. He said he shot at it with his pistol — firing either two rounds or emptying two clips; the women weren’t sure — but the thing seemed unaffected by the gunshots.
It’s unclear why the guy went so quickly from hearing something approach to gunning it down. Maybe the creature had injured his dog. What happened to the dog is unclear, too. When I first heard this story, the teller told me "it took the dog." I wasn’t sure if that meant it stole the dog, it killed the dog, or it just beat all you’d ever seen.
"He said it had tore his dog up," said a Quick Stop witness. She said she saw the dog, but didn’t see any blood on it.
The guy called a game warden from the store, and the warden asked if the two fellows would go back to Rood with an officer to look around, and the two flatly refused and got back in their car and left.
The women at the store have no idea whether there’s any truth to this tale, but they said the guys did look scared silly. The older one wouldn’t get out of the car, which the campers very carefully had parked under the brightest lights in the lot and as close to the store entrance as they could get.
They said they had fled in such a hurry that they abandoned their camping equipment, and apparently they had. Another Quick Stop customer went down to Rood later and found it, said the women. The women didn’t get the men’s names and declined to tell me their own, not wanting to become too closely associated with alleged creature encounters. They said one of the men claimed to be from Louisiana, though they were in a car with an Arkansas tag. It looked like a Ford Mustang, the women said.
Listen to the 911 call on the Columbus (GA) Ledger-Enquirer website.
That’s about as far as this story goes. No one else has heard or seen anything like it. I drove down to Rood on Monday and found no one who’d heard about this. One camper on the park’s west side said he was there two weeks ago and had noticed nothing unusual. And if he had noticed something unusual, that would not have been unusual, he said: "There’s no telling what they saw. You can see some strange things out here."
Two men on Rood’s east side said they also had seen nothing odd.
Up the road at Florence Marina, Superintendent Keith Fleming said his workers were running educational tours down at the Rood Indian mounds adjacent to the campground, and they had noticed nothing weird down there, either.
If this was an authentic local bigfoot sighting, it would not be entirely the first. A while back we heard of a fellow out in Russell County who claimed he knew a place off Old Sandfort Road where you could go every evening and see a big hairy hominid go by. But no one’s ever thought much of that story because after all, there are a lot of places around here where you can do that.
Beyond that, you don’t hear much bigfoot talk here.
Now down in south Georgia and Florida, you hear a lot more. Down in Florida they’ve got this thing called a "skunk ape" folks keep seeing. It’s a bigfoot that smells really bad. Like the creature reported here, the skunk or swamp ape shows up in wet, lowland areas. It has been reported often in the Everglades.
There’s a Web site that maintains a database of Florida skunk-ape sightings, and some of the stories sound like the one those women at the Quick Stop heard. Dozens of sightings were reported in the 1970s, a popular era for bigfoot interest. But then reports dropped off until the summer of 1997, when there was another rash.
Georgia’s Okefenokee Swamp has tales of a creature called the "pig man," also a bigfooter with noticeably pig-like nostrils. Reports of this south Georgia pig man can be found on a Web site called the Okefenokee X-Files. It cites one creature south of the Okefenokee near Palatka, Fla., that’s popularly known as "The Bardin Booger" after a small community nearby.
If we did find a bigfoot, skunk ape or pig man prowling about, we wouldn’t be the first. But we might be far enough away from the others to give our booger his very own name. He could be the Chattahoochee Cootie, or the Rood Dude, or the Creek Freak — if we’ve got a real critter, that is.
If all we’ve got is a big stinker who goes around scaring the tourists, well, that’s hardly worth bragging about.