Bigfoot in Colorado History
Historical Map of Colorado 1895
Colorado has had a number of reports and sightings throughout its history. In the mid 1800′s miners who worked claims around the Leadville area would come down to town and talk about unsettling encounters with what was then described as hairy (man-like) devils. According to one account, so frightened one hardened miner left everything he owned at his claim and ran back to town, and he never went back.
It was said that the natives would tell the white man to stay out of those areas as they were the domain of the hairy men. At that time there was no word for these creatures, the word “bigfoot” was not coined until 1958 when Jerry Crew a road construction foreman found a number of large man-like, five-toed prints on his freshly graded roads in Northern California.
The following article is from a well respected and very experienced hunting guide who spent many years in the Southern San Juan mountains of South Central Colorado. More of his postings are found on this website.
Colorado and New Mexico
by Keith Foster
Southern San Juan Mountains: 1450 – 1700
Jemez Pueblo: The Pueblo tribe of northern New Mexico have many traditional stories of 8 to 10 foot tall man-beasts that they believed lived in the high mountains in an area of north central New Mexico and extending into southern Colorado. The stories are considered sacred and the contemporary tribal elders will not share the stories because of this. Some stories of hairy giants, considered by them to sometimes kill and eat man, have been leaked. They fear the creatures and many consider them as spirit beings, in spite of the fact that they can be seen, heard and leave tracks.
Copyright © Keith Foster
There is an archeological ruin (ca. AD 1450-1700 occupation) named Gee-tow-ta-own-lay-new which is translated “Place where the giant man stepped.” This site is about 60 miles south of the Colorado/New Mexico border at an elevation of 7,650 feet in dense ponderosa pine forest. Tribal archeologists confirm that this archeological pueblo’s name is a “direct reference” to the 8 to 10 foot tall hairy man-beasts encountered in the area at the time of the pueblo’s construction and occupation from the mid-14th century through the 18th century.
North-central New Mexico: AD prehistory – late 1800’s
Taos Indian Tradition: Cannibal giants appear in “myths” of the Taos. They are described by the Tao’s as giant men with long hair covering the whole body, big hands, big feet, big muscled arms, big head and big mouth. The Taos believed that these man-beasts were a dangerous type of man that lived in the forests and would sometimes come and kill members of their people and take them to high mountain caves and eat them. Their stories tell of finding the openings of the man-beasts caves littered with bones of the unfortunate victims. Stories tell of the Taos trying to kill one of the cannibal man-beasts by setting fire to brush at a cave opening and shooting it with arrows as it came out. They were unsuccessful in their attempts and the creature ran away wounded. These events were supposed to have occurred about 800 years ago according to traditional belief.
Another Taos traditional tale is a story of how two young women from the Lytton area were kidnapped by giants. The giants were described as horribly smelly by the girls who eventually escaped from them. It is traditionally told that the giants carried the two girls to an island on a river a great distance from their homes and that the giants ate meat of small game and deer. The giants were called Tsawane’itEmux by the Taos. The kidnapped girls also said they were called Stsomu’lamux and TsekEtinu’s (English interpretation unknown).
San Juan River Drainage, Southern Ute Reservation: Historical to present day
Southern Ute Tradition: The Southern Ute, who currently occupy the Southern Ute Indian Reservation in the south San Juan Mountains of southern Colorado, have historical tribal stories of “giant hairy man-beasts.” These beasts are traditionally said to inhabit the remote parts of the high elevation forests. As with the Pueblo, the beasts are feared and many think that they could be spirit beings, though many contemporary Utes are beginning to believe that they are simply normal animals that look like giant men covered with hair. Historical accounts are mostly oral, though some of the pictographs in the Four Corners region of southwest Colorado that look like big men are interpreted by the local Native Americans as man-beasts and not pictographs of man. Many of the Ute living in the area at present are still reporting sightings of giant hairy man-beasts while hunting in the deep forest areas on and near the reservation. These Ute men are experienced hunters, very familiar with the natural fauna, and are sure they are not mistaking bears or other animals for the man-beasts. A current hot-spot of man-beast activity is in the high forests, west of the Piedra River, east of the city of Ignacio and south of Hwy. 160, though they also say that sightings could occur about anyplace where the forest is dense in the mountains of the general area.
San Juan and Conejos River Drainage, Colorado: 1870s
Professional bear hunter “Willford” memoirs: A professional bear hunter by the name of Willford hunted in the San Juan Mountains of southern Colorado in the 1870’s. His memoirs were dictated in 1930 and have not been formally published to date and so I will only share generalities that may be relevant. Grizzly bears were common in the area in the late 1800’s and Mr. Willford killed 39 bears for the bounties put on their head at that time.
Mr. Willford’s memoirs state that while hunting in certain drainage’s in the southern San Juan Mountains of Colorado that feelings of being watched and feelings of dread were common. Local Indians said that only the bravest of hunters would venture into some of the areas involved. Horses were mysteriously spooked and bear-proofed camps were raided anyway. Meat was taken from camps, even though placed high in trees out of the reach of bears. Mr. Willford recounts how his horses and pack burro were once greatly spooked and panicked in the area by a loud animal noise from close range that he had never heard before.
On another occasion he encountered some Navajo men camped in the area that had been terrified by an encounter with what they described as a 15 foot tall beast. The terrified Navajo men had told Mr. Willford “Don’t go there, one terrible big thing is there.”
They described the beast as possibly some kind of giant bear that stood on it’s back legs to a very great height (15 feet is a probable exaggeration by the Navajo involved). The early Navajo were experienced hunters, familiar with grizzly bears and black bears. This event occurred near the New Mexico border, where the San Juan River exits Colorado. The place was three or four miles up into the mountains from that point. They all “got the hell out of there,” according to Mr. Willford. (Note: The Southern Ute that permanently occupied the region at the time have many tribal stories of giant hairy man-beasts that lived in those same mountains at that time and now. The Navajo involved may not have known about the man-beasts described in the area and interpreted the creature seen as some kind of bear).
South Central Colorado, Near Crestone, Colorado: 1900 – 1920s
Tracks found and “Boji”: At the turn of the century (1900), miners at the newly opened Independence Mine, seven miles south of Crestone, reported finding giant man-like tracks near the mine entrance.
A lifelong resident of the Crestone area (a local hunter and tracker, name withheld), who still lives in the area, said that his grandfather told him of personally seeing a giant hairy man-beast in the late 1920’s. The creature had been seen by many locals during that time period and they had given the elusive creature the name of “Boji”. Why this sasquatch type creature was named “Boji” by the locals in the 1920’s has been lost to history.
Reports courtesy of researcher, Keith Foster
Table Mountain, Fremont County Colorado, 1998
In April 1998, I was sighting in my new rifle at Table Mountain, Colorado when I found bigfoot tracks on the hill first and attempted to track the thing but to many rocks.
As I was walking back I saw the same tracks nearby Hwy 115 in Fremont County. There were four 22-inch long barefoot human-like tracks laid out in a single line; 48 inches between each step. These tracks followed a deer path down a hill and crossed over a narrow dirt road. The road was very hard and the tracks on the hill sunk in the earth about 2 to 3 inches. The tracks on the road were not impressed because of the hardness of the ground.
Dirt tracks were left on the road in a bare foot form with 5 toes aligned across the forward part of the foot, not unlike human tracks but wider.
It is one thing to read about these things and study them it is another to see these tracks. To ponder and evaluate the size of a biped creature that left them. It really gave me a jolt to see the toes and then to actually measure and see how much ground the creature had covered with it’s four foot stride.
Contact info not available.
From the 1998 database of Bobbie Short Bigfoot Encounters.com
Wednesday, January 08, 2003h Country home to Bigfoot?
By Jane Stebbins
Summit Daily News
SUMMIT COUNTY – U.S. Forest Service Ranger Jamie Connell has never seen a Bigfoot. But in the lobby of the Forest Service’s Silverthorne office is a cast of one of the legend’s feet.
“It’s a cast of what we think one would look like if someone did report it,” she said, adding that it wouldn’t surprise her if someone reported a sighting someday. “We’ve had reports of grizzly bears since I’ve been here. That was the craziest, most unheard-of wildlife I’ve heard of in the county. You never know.”
Bigfoot – the legendary half-man, half-ape species rumored to roam the forests – has been in the news lately since the death of Ray Wallace, whose family claims he made fake footprints, photos and video clips of the animal.
The closest Summit County Sheriff Joe Morales has come to a Bigfoot is in the movies, but he wouldn’t be surprised if someone came forth to report a sighting.
“It’s a human dynamic,” he said. “People see things in the woods. We’ve had UFO calls. You never know. They’re discovering new species every day on the planet.”
He thinks if a Bigfoot really existed, there would be more evidence.
“It’s interesting,” Morales said of the phenomenon. “There’s a lot of theory out there, but it still lacks a lot of evidence.”
But scientists – including renowned ape researcher Jane Goodall – are placing more credence on the possibility it exists.
According to the Bigfoot Field Research Organization (BFRO), considered by many to be among the most credible agencies trying to determine if the animal exists, people have reported seeing the animal once in Summit County, four times in Park County and numerous times in Eagle County in the past few years.
Reports date back as far as the 1800s, and Indian folklore about Bigfoot contributes to its validity.
Officials at the organization put sightings in three classes. Criteria are not based on the credibility of witnesses or how interesting the report is, but whether a misidentification can be ruled out. BFRO officials give physical sightings and footprints an “A” rating as being the most credible. They give “B” ratings – in which there is a higher probability of incorrectly identifying say, a bear – to reports of noise. “C” ratings are given to rumors and secondhand reports.
Sasquatch in Summit
Only one person – a man identified as Brian B. – has reported seeing a sasquatch in Summit County.
According to his account on the BFRO Web site, Sept. 19, 1998, he was driving along Highway 91 between Copper Mountain and Leadville when he saw what he thought was a totem pole in the woods. He looked at it to see more detail when the “totem pole” rotated from its waist to look at him. The man said he pulled over to the side of the road, but by the time the dust settled around him, the bigfoot was gone.
Brian B. said he has lived in the High Country for 30 years and spends a lot of his time hiking, camping and fly-fishing in the backcountry. He said he has seen three other sightings of
bigfoot-like creatures, none of which could have been bears as they didn’t have the large, rounded rump or pointed nose.
On Nov. 5, 2001, Brian B. said he and a friend were driving westbound on Interstate 70 between Minturn and Edwards when he saw two people crossing the Eagle River. He thought they’d crashed over the embankment and were making their way back to the roadway when he realized they weren’t people after all.
“They were furry, upright creatures,” he told BFRO researcher T.E. Stein. “I saw legs and arms and elbows. They had no snouts, no round ears – it was nothing like a bear. It was nothing like a man, really.”
Another report – backed up by the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office in April 2000 – included photos of footprints along the edge of the Eagle River one mile east of Eagle.
Most reported sightings in Colorado have taken place in Park County, where the BFRO has recorded one physical sighting and three reports of unusual noise.
The most recent report, filed May 12, 2001, by a woman who lives near Saddle Mountain in Park County, indicates she and her two children were “paralyzed” by a loud, spine-tingling noise emanating from the woods.
“It was the creepiest thing I’ve ever heard in my life,” the woman wrote in the report. “It was like a rooster and a dog, but it was 10 times louder.”
€ Native Americans have more than 60 names for the animal-legend known as bigfoot. The most common are “Sasquatch,” “Bigfoot” and “Yeti.”
€ The name “Sasquatch” is an anglicization of the Coast Salish Indian word, “sesquac” of British Columbia. Sesquac means “wild man.”
€ Researchers believe 2,000 to 8,000 Bigfoots might exist nationwide.
€ Bigfoots are reported
to be upwards of 10 feet tall, have longer arms than animals like bears, run like humans and have human facial features that are covered with hair.
- Bigfoot Field Research Organization, at bfro.com
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