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Legends of a giant hairy ape have been a part of ancient Native American folklore for centuries.  While this creature was known by many names, the first to become widely known was Sasquatch, from the Coast Salish of British Columbia, a word which can be translated approximately as “wild man of the woods.”

After the 1958 publication of photos and casts of immense foot prints found at a road construction site in Humboldt County, CA the more common – if somewhat ridiculous - name “Bigfoot” arose and the number of reported sightings increased markedly with this publicity.

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In Search of Sasquatch

Construction worker Jerry Crew holds the cast of the Bigfoot print in 1958.

Part one of a three part series on Sasquatch; see also :

1.  All about Sasquatch in the Pacific Northwest
2.  Preparing to Search for Sasquatch

3 Some suggested Bigfoot touring around Seattle (not yet published)



Sightings have been reported in every state of the continental US and every Canadian Province, but are most common in the Pacific Northwest.

Approximately one third of all reported sightings occur in this region; primarily in the dense forests of the Pacific Northwest Cascade Mountain Range, stretching all the way from Northern California to British Columbia.

In this article we will provide an introduction to the history of Sasquatch in the region and offer a few suggestions for undertaking your own expedition in search of the elusive creature.

Is There Any Truth to Sasquatch Stories?

Those who believe in the existence of Sasquatch will likely describe a giant ape-like creature, six to ten feet tall, weighing at least 500 lbs and covered in hair typically ranging in color from dark red to dark brown. They will go on to claim that it roams the densest forests of the Pacific Northwest, is most-likely nocturnal, has a call that sounds variously like a baby crying, a woman screaming or unearthly howls unlike anything ever heard before, and gives off a ferocious stench.

To support these claims Sasquatch’s advocates will point to the countless examples of footprints that a normal man could nearly fit two of his inside, and sightings that have been reported by thousands of people. Several films capturing what are alleged to be Sasquatch now exist, what are thought to be hair and fecal samples have been collected, and voice analysis done to recordings of it's calls have proven the sounds are coming from no known identified animal The county of Skamania in the state of Washington even has a law on the books forbidding anyone from killing it.

Yet skeptics & orthodox scientists counter that this beast cannot possibly exist because there has been no actual body to examine. The complete lack of any Sasquatch remains having been discovered presents the stiffest of challenges to those who argue for the existence of the Sasquatch. Until such time as a body is found and examined the scientific community is highly unlikely to recognize this as a new species of animal, no matter how great the weight of other evidence gathered.

Only the most fanatical believer would deny that at least some of the alleged evidence have been hoaxes; the discovery of a “body” in Georgia being one of the most recent examples. However, given the vast number of reported encounters & the period of time involved, it seems unlikely that every report can be dismissed. After all, even if one discards all but the 100 most convincing historical accounts, & then assumes that the chance that any one of those is a hoax is 99%, compound probability indicates that the chance of all these accounts being fake is 0.99100 = 0.366 or 36.6%. Perhaps a better way of looking at this is that there is a 63.4% chance that at least one of the reports would be genuine.

If you are looking for a good place to start researching the various debates, either this book or this DVD offer some reputable scholarly work on the topic.

Evidence of Sasquatch

With such a wealth of reported contacts in the Pacific Northwest, it is of little surprise that many, if not all, of the key pieces of evidence put forward for the existence of these creatures have been found in this region. Evidence generally takes three main forms:

Sightings or direct contact

There have been thousands of reported sightings of Sasquatch dating back as far as the 19th Century. The most impressive sightings, however, are those that have been caught on film. The most famous of these was shot in October 1967, when Roger Patterson & Bob Gimlin captured less than a minute of shaky film alleging to show a Sasquatch at Bluff Creek, California. The Patterson Film, as it has become known, remains the most compelling film evidence, even to this day, although the film itself has never been definitively evaluated & opinions vary on its authenticity, largely due to uncertainty over the speed at which the film was shot. Here is a stabilized version of the footage. Several other seemingly convincing videos have surfaced in more recent years, with perhaps one of the most notable being the 1995 Redwoods video, when a TV film crew had a chance encounter with what they first thought was a bear at the end of a work day. Another of the most famous sightings captured on film is the 1996 Memorial Day Video shot at Chopaka Lake in Okanogan County, WA.

Footprints and impressions

While sightings, whether caught on film or not, are the most impressive form of encounter with Sasquatch, by sheer weight of numbers alone, the footprints they have left behind are probably the most compelling evidence. It was the 1958 publication of the Bigfoot prints that helped to capture the nation’s imagination and reshape the Sasquatch question into the modern cultural phenomenon that it has become. In 1969 an exceptional set of footprints were found near Bossburg, WA, not just because of their size (18”) but also because the prints indicated that the creature’s left foot was deformed (a club foot, which was considered too big a challenge to be a hoax).

More remarkable still is the so-called Skookum Cast, found in September 2000 in the Skookum Meadows area of Gifford Pinchot National Forest near Mount St Helens. Some researchers consider this to be the 2nd most important piece of evidence of the existence of the Sasquatch, believing it to be the first documented body imprint, showing several heel prints, dermal ridges, forearm, side, buttocks & hip impressions along with hair patterns - although others have argued that the impressions were formed by an elk.


A further category of encounters worth considering are the sounds made by the creature.  Recordings of what are believed to be the calls made by the creature have been distributed on the internet, for example, this compilation of recordings offers a range of possible sounds, as well as a 911 call from the Kitsap Peninsula during the 1990s in which a man reports what sounds suspiciously like a Sasquatch in his back yard.

Part one of a three part series on Sasquatch; see also :

1.  All about Sasquatch in the Pacific Northwest
2.  Preparing to Search for Sasquatch

3 Some suggested Bigfoot touring around Seattle (not yet published)

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Originally published 24 April 2009, last update 30 May 2021

You may freely reproduce or distribute this article for noncommercial purposes as long as you give credit to me as original writer.

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