February 14, 2007

Olaf, Grover Krantz and Bigfoot

Do you know the story of Olaf the Giant and the Anthropologist?

Grover Krantz

This Valentine’s Day, as I mentioned here, is the 5th anniversary of the death of Professor Grover Krantz, Bigfoot researcher, who passed away at the age of 70. Krantz, it will be recalled, was the author of Big Footprints (Boulder: Johnson, 1992), revised as Bigfoot Sasquatch Evidence (Seattle: Hancock House, 1999), and the editor of The Sasquatch and Other Unknown Hominoids (Calgary: Western Publishing, 1984, with archaeologist Vladimir Markotic). Grover’s special type of academic vinegar is missed today.

As many people know, Krantz would leave no stone unturned when investigating possible Bigfoot-related items. One story that is little known about Grover Krantz, which I ran across from Doug Higley, involves Krantz and his desire to examine the famed Olaf the Giant. (Please note, no photographs of Olaf the Giant have surfaced in my search. Do you have one? I’ve interviewed various “roadside America” photographers, and none has one. People did share that they had seen the exhibit during its heyday, but can’t recall taking its picture, due to the poor lighting.)

Doug Higley, a specialist in gaffs and creating displays to show them, once had an old time dime museum next to the casinos near Lake Tahoe, Nevada. He tells this story about Olaf the Giant, and its relationship to the Bigfoot Mystery and Grover Krantz:

In 1993, I owned a big museum (5,000 square ft.) that went bust in Tahoe, called “True Wonders Old Time Museum.” Had rooms and rooms of great stuff including Grover Krantz’s papers and prints among TONS of other things. Grover was demanding we turn over Olaf The Giant to him for study. Olaf was 9 ft 3 inches tall! Grover wanted to study it for Bigfoot locomotion possibilities.

Grover Krantz

Olaf the Giant had been shown for countless years on the sideshow circuit. His biggest splash came during the Seattle World’s Fair where he was on display as part of Doc (Walt) Jones gregarious collection of bizarre artifacts and gag filled props. Bought by a private collector he was moved to Redmond, Oregon, and was on display at the Fantastic Museum there, until I built my place in Tahoe, where he was moved to be the star attraction.

Grover Krantz evidently had seen Olaf the Giant at the World’s Fair and again in Redmond. In my exhibit of Olaf hanging directly behind his huge coffin was the framed letter we got from Grover Krantz demanding (no other word for it) that Olaf be turned over to Washington State University for scientific study. (Read that disassembled.)

Olaf looked fantastic for an ancient preserved “specimen.” Huge head with the skin retreating back from the jaws…sunken eyes…gigantic hands withered and skin shriveled around the large bones. Krantz was entranced and thought that if he had his hands on Olaf the Giant he might discover how this Viking Giant walked and moved his bulk around his ancient world. This reasoned Krantz would be an interesting look at what a large biped like Bigfoot might have going on in the locomotion department. Problem was Olaf the Giant was MADE (manufactured) at the turn of the Century (late 1800’s) by the Nelson Supply Company. Olaf can be seen in the old Nelson Supply catalog of gaff attractions.

Nelson Supply House

Grover should have seen that BUT he was full of “true believer” stars in his eyes…and it just didn’t dawn on him, that though the Giant was an awesome gaff, the legs were far too fleshed out for Olaf to be real. Real close inspection through the thick glass of the coffin revealed other minor flaws which “gave it away.” Olaf had been made of real skin and real bones in some areas but in others his skin was some type of “oil cloth”…a magnifier could reveal the threads and weave…but the large long fully fleshed out and non desiccated legs were the big give away that Krantz should have picked up on. But he didn’t.

Olaf the Giant was one of a kind and really spectacular. And a hundred years after he was built he fooled another “one of a kind,” Grover Krantz.– Doug Higley
Phantom Of The Midway

Doug Higley, even though he exhibited Olaf the Giant, has no photographs of the infamous Viking Giant. None appear in Grover Krantz’s books. Do you have any?

Personally, I tend to understand Krantz, regarding his pursuit. In searching for more answers that impact on the Bigfoot mystery, I would have wanted to examine Olaf a bit closer too.

Indeed, that’s why I interviewed Higley and now want to see the missing photographs of Olaf the Giant, even if it is a gaff. If nothing else, this is an incomplete segment of Krantz’s Bigfoot research that has now been brought closer to being concluded, on the 5th anniversary of his passing, with all due respect.


Images sent in to Cryptomundo of Olaf the Giant will be placed here.

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

Filed under Artifacts, Bigfoot, CryptoZoo News, Cryptozoology, Evidence, Folklore, Forensic Science, Hoaxes, Museums, Obituaries, Pop Culture, Sasquatch