A Brief History of Bigfoot in North America

posted: 07/25/16
by: Kelly McClure

According to the book Cryptozoology A to Z written by Loren Coleman and Jerome Clark the term "Sasquatch" came from a teacher named J.W. Burns in the 1920s. Burns had been hearing stories about large, hairy, evasive animals from Chehalis Indian friends he kept in close contact with for years and arrived at the name by combining a bunch of different versions he had heard to create his own phonetic version. Although the name Sasquatch is still used from time to time in an effort to insert formality into tales of sightings and rehashing of folklore, most North Americans choose to refer to the beast referenced in these stories as Bigfoot.

Coleman and Clark's book traces the first use of "Bigfoot" back to a construction worker named Jerry Crew who brought a plaster cast of a huge animal-like footprint he had found in the muck of Bluff Creek Valley into a local newspaper office in Northern California. On October 5, 1958 The Humbolt Times printed Crew's story of what he had found in Bluff Creek along with a picture of him holding up the footprint cast, which spans more than half the length of his upper body. The accompanying text reads: "New 'Sasquatch' found - it's called Bigfoot," which is the name that Crew and his friends used while trying to imagine what manner of creature could have caused a footprint that large. The printing of that picture caused a Bigfoot fever that has still, to this day, never really tapered off.

In 1967 a bit of grainy video footage was shot by Roger Patterson and Robert "Bob" Gimlin in Bluff Creek (the same site of Jerry Crew's Bigfoot cast) that is considered the biggest piece of evidence pointing towards the actual existence of Bigfoot. The footage of the actual creature, which lasts less than 60 seconds, shows what appears to be Bigfoot creeping through some foliage, clear as day, and is an event which both Patterson and Gimlin consistently swore actually took place. In his initial description of what he had seen Patterson estimated Bigfoot's height to be six and a half to seven feet tall, and then changed it to seven and a half feet tall, which isn't really that tall but then again, most celebrities do turn out to be a lot shorter than you'd expect. The creature, or man in an ape suit, however you choose to see it, has since been nicknamed Patty and you can see her on video right here:

According to Cryptozoology A to Z and other similar texts such as Coleman's Tom Slick: True Life Encounters in Cryptozoology, the highest concentration of supposed Bigfoot sightings have taken place in the northern part of the United States and far western Canada. Seems to me like Bigfoot likes to keep things chilly and also, possibly, has a taste for quality burritos.

Sightings of Bigfoot are still being reported pretty consistently and Bob Gimlin, the surviving shooter of the "Patty" footage above gave an interview to Huffington Post on July 7th 2016, nearly 50 years after his video was shot, re-addressing skeptics by saying "I can understand why they don't believe in it -- because I didn't believe it either. But I saw one. And I know what I saw. And I know it wasn't a man in a suit. It couldn't have been!"

Whether you're a believer or not, the story of Bigfoot continues to be an interesting one. Keep an eye out for Patty the next time you're in Northern California and toss her a burrito if you get close enough. Make sure you get it on video though.