Posted by: Loren Coleman on October 26th, 2007
Do Bigfoot roam Southern California?
Ken Coon, a former deputy sheriff for Los Angeles County collected many stories during the 1960s and 1970s, and most source material goes back to him. It appears one well-known paperback writer from that era used some of Coon’s material.
Warren Smith in his 1970 book Strange Abominable Snowmen wrote about the “Abominable Sandman of Borrego,” regarding a hominoid that terrorized treasure hunters and gold prospectors in the isolated Borrego Valley desert of California.
Unfortunately, Smith had a tendency to first lift material uncredited (as from Coon) and the fictionalize his “expert” sources, so I am not sure how trustworthy such quotation as the following one is about the elusive “Sandman”:
Major Victor Stoyanow was seeking the entrance to [an underground] labyrinth in this area in January 1964, when he noticed several huge, human-like footprints in the sand. “The prints ran in pairs, generally parallel and they averaged 14 centimeters in length and 9 wide at the instep,” Major Stoyanow declared after his investigation.” by Warren Smith, Strange Abominable Snowmen, page 91.
Likewise, what Smith wrote about the “Abominable Sandman of Borrego” in the July 1969 issue of Saga may or may not contain material that needs to be double-checked for something of worth:
As my continuing research seems to point out there is defiantly a connection between the underground cavern and tunnels systems and the elusive creature know as Bigfoot.Gold prospectors and treasure hunters frequently seek their lost bonanzas in isolated areas. Since 1964, treasure hunters in the Borrego Valley desert in California have whispered about “the Abominable Sandmen of Borrego.” The arid area is near the Mexican border, it is virtually uninhabited. There are many fissures, caves and crevasses in the Superstition Mountain region and prospectors say the Cocopah Indians have told of a subterranean labyrinth under the mountain, Maj. Victor Stoyanow was seeking an access into the Superstition Hills in January 1964, when he noticed large, humanoid tracks in the sand dunes. “The prints ran in pairs, generally parallel and averaged about 14 inches in length and nine wide at the instep,” Major Stoyanow declared. He returned to the desert on several other occasions, made plaster casts of the prints, and snapped photographs.”Curious as I am, I hope that the person who discovers what kind of beast it is doesn’t happen to be me.” Major Stoyanow said after his thorough investigation into the tracks.
The San Diego Union ran an unverifiable article some years ago of a “sandman” that was shot by hunter Frank Cox at Deadman’s Hole, near Warner, California in San Diego County. The beast was described as a cross between “a man and a bear.” The head was rather small, with protruding teeth and powerful jaws. The muscular creature had feet that measured 24 inches in length and the body weight was estimated to be 400 pounds.Harold Lancaster, treasure hunter, was prospecting in the Borrego Sink, east of the settlement of Borrego Springs. California in July 1968, when he saw a “sandman.” “I was camped up on a mesa one morning when I saw a man walking in the desert,” he reported. “The figure came closer. I thought it was another prospector. Then, I picked up my binoculars and saw the strangest sight in my life.”It was a real giant apeman,” Lancaster said. “I had heard about the screaming giant apeman up in Tuolumne County that frightened people for a couple of years. Another person and I even went up there to look for the thing. I decided it was a hoax and never expected to actually see one.”
As the “sandman” drew closer, Lancaster became worried. “That thing was big. I was no match for it,” he reported. “I had a .22 pistol on my hip but it would have been like shooting at a gorilla with a pea shooter. I was afraid the beast might get too close. So, I fired a couple of rounds into the air. The sandman jumped a good three feet off the ground when the sounds of the shots reached him. He turned his head, looked toward me and then took off running in the other direction!”Why didn’t Lancaster shoot the alleged sandman? “I was afraid,” he admitted. “They should be protected. They’re a form of a human, a primitive species. It would be murder to kill one. They should be studied.” – Warren Smith
As Brad Steiger recently told me, Smith had a tendency to make up “experts” so his publishers would be happy with what he submitted. It is doubtful if a “Major Stoyanow” ever existed.
Ken Coon’s files contained much that he did share with other researchers. I remember him sending out typed carbon copies of his lists and findings long, long ago. Coon was in contact with many of us, because he was so active.
John Green devotes most of his chapter 16, “So Close to Hollywood,” in Sasquatch: The Apes Among Us to Ken’s material. Re-read it, folks.
Ken Coon did discover some gems from Southern California, and was one of the first to write of three-toed tracks often being recently found there. Ken in later year would call these “Sandpeople” by the name “Zoobies.” Ken also came across old records too.
For example, there was the 1939 report from Borrego Sink, California, about a man prospecting alone in that desolate area one night. The prospector was confronted by a pack of hairy, two-legged creatures covered with silvery white hair, and eyes that appeared to glow in the light of the man’s fire. The creatures surrounded his camp and menaced the prospector for some time but were kept at bay by the blazing campfire.
Don’t forget, furthermore, it was soon after the Jerry Crew – Bluff Creek activity in 1958 that the first major media strange creature flap occurred in Southern California, when Charlie Wetzel’s car was attacked by something near Riverside, California, in November 1958. Wetzel’s car was crossing a small overflow on the road at the time, so a flashflood may have driven that bizarre bipedal beast in his direction.
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.