The Ray Wallace Debate

Posted by: Loren Coleman on February 12th, 2006

Part I

Ray Wallace continues to be the bone of contention in Bigfoot studies. It is time to expunge the databases of his negative contributions, and look at the real evidence for Sasquatch more clearly. It goes beyond a West versus East struggle, despite what some writers would have your believe.

In Cryptomundo, over at “Wooly Booger’s Bigfoot Report,” you can find the final segment of John Green’s talk at Willow Creek in 2003. Sorry to say this, but some boneheaded comments of John Green’s are repeated therein.

First off, to answer those readers of this blog who appear to think I’m beating up on John Green every time I mention we disagree about something, let me be clear, once again.

John and I have been correspondents (remember letters?) since the early 1960s, and colleagues, associates, and friends early on. We continue to be friends today. Just because I don’t take everything he says as gospel doesn’t mean I don’t like or respect him. I enjoy that honest level of mutual admiration and intellectual challenging that occurs among most of the more mature people in Sasquatch studies.

Finally, for those that missed it, my 2003 book, Bigfoot! is dedicated to John Green.

I don’t expect to lessen the debate, but the personalized comments about some imagined hatred between John and me can be thrown out with the trash, right away. I look forward to a healthy discussion here on the merits of John’s case versus mine.

Now on to John’s statements on Ray Wallace. Once again, I find John has placed himself into a remarkably stark “black” and “white” conundrum. Green feels Wallace was a prankster, but he didn’t leave fake footprints in California. Green feels that you either are with him or not a good Bigfoot researcher, if you are not, on this one.

First, some basics: Ray Wallace, 84, did die on November 26, 2002. I did mention his death first to Steve Young of the Seattle Times. And, despite the media attempts to say Wallace gave a “death bed confession,” the reality is that his relatives did come clean about the fakery Ray Wallace conducted. The rest is, well, history.

I wrote almost immediately, in 2002:

Why is the testimony of an admitted liar, now being feted by a skeptical magician as the truth, having the newspapers believe it all? The media mixing of the lies and rumors with a few facts in the Wallace story is pushing this one to the edge. This is Ray Wallace’s ultimate hoax and bitter seed.

But let’s read carefully John Green’s words here:

Everything Ray did was so transparently bogus that it seemed obvious he was just having fun. It is hard to imagine he expected his yarns to be believed, and although some writers back East swallowed the bait I don’t know of anyone involved in the Sasquatch search in the West who took him seriously or felt that he was causing any sort of problem.

Of course, initially, it was a newspaper writer in Seattle, and many other newspaper writers from the West, who should have known better, who blew this tale out of proportion. The myth-making of the incorrect kind began in the West, not the East.

But John wants to make this a divisive debate by putting the West Coast (everyone that allegedly “knows” Sasquatch/Bigfoot) up against “some writers back East.” For those that want names, John has, in the recent past, lumped the radical debunkers such as Mark Chorvinsky, the intellectual skeptics such as Ben Radford and David Daegling, and the Bigfoot supporters such as Mark A. Hall and myself, all together. Please, God save the Queen, heaven help me from that room full of people. That’s like me putting a certain internet stalker, a couple Sasquatch psychics, and John in the same ski lift together for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver!

Next, in a light-hearted matter, we are told by John to believe the fact that Ray Wallace was a fun-loving trickster. John supports that claim, but draws a line at Bluff Creek. And the surrounding mountains, it seems. Why can John have it both ways? Why does John believe Ray Wallace was a prankster but not see that Wallace’s mischief would have extended to planted footprints?

Yes, some of us, since the mid-1990s, have been questioning Ray Wallace’s role in the events at Bluff Creek in 1958, when the Wallace Construction Company was building the road. But John has set up this division between “knowing” Wallace was just having good ole boy fun and those people who “swallowed the bait” because we questioned what this “fun” might have resulted in, at Bluff Creek and elsewhere. But, of course, I and others like Mark Hall, have never said, since Wallace died, that Wallace made the original “Bigfoot” prints or was responsible for the Jerry Crew cast.

Due to the fact we do have the actual fake wooden feet now, why shouldn’t Wallace’s every action, motives, and products be examined?

Green once wrote a newspaper hoax in the field, but that doesn’t mean he remained a hoaxer. As John has said a few times, and wrote me anew in 2003: “I did not start collecting Sasquatch information until 1957. Prior to that all I did was include a made-up Sasquatch story in a 1955 April Fool edition of my paper. I never met William Roe, although I wrote to him later on and he sent met the drawing and a sworn statement.”

The difference between Green and Wallace is obvious. Green planted his Sasquatch hoax momentarily and moved on, to reality, after Ruby Creek. Ray Wallace lived a life of hoaxing, stretching the truth, and pranks. It was happening before Bluff Creek, 1958, and after. Why shouldn’t an open-minded examination of all the “fingerprints” that Wallace left on the landscape of Bigfootery be revealed?

John Green said during his 2003 talk:

The wooden feet that they [the Wallace family] showed the media, as you can see in the full-size photos of them on display here, do not match the original “Bigfoot”. They do appear to be attempts to duplicate the casts made by Bob Titmus of the different set of tracks he found on a Bluff Creek sandbar, but one of them is so crudely carved that they would not likely fool anybody.

Mark Hall, myself, and others who are re-investigating the Wallace material, since Wallace’s death, clearly note a difference between the Jerry Crew Bluff Creek Bigfoot tracks and the Wallace fakes. But the Wallace fakes are there and visible in the books, claimed to be real tracks. They still exist in the Bigfoot database and they need to be thrown out as bad data.

See the photos here, and you will begin to start noticing something. Some of the Wallace fakes have a distinctive square hallux and more indications. Look in the books, look at the casts, shown by Ivan Sanderson, Tom Slick, and John Green, as “real.” They are Wallace fakes.

Wallace Casts

Loren Coleman, London Fortean Times conference talk: Jerry Crew cast, Ray Wallace wooden foot fake, Bob Titmus cast. Fakery afoot?

The evidence is mounting for a more “gray” attitude to exist here, as the years reveal that Ray Wallace did leave bad data in the mix. Bigfoot exists, but then, so did Ray Wallace.

Some bits of the puzzle are beginning to make sense:

The Bluff Creek tracks, found by Steve Matthes in 1960, match the carved fake feet being shown by Ray Wallace’s relatives to the media in late 2002.
Matthes, an experienced tracker hired by Tom Slick, says these tracks are the reason he got out of hunting Bigfoot in 1960. (Source: Steve M. Matthes, Brave and Other Stories. Carlotta, CA: Vera O. Matthes, 1988, from chapter entitled “The Great Hoax,” specifically page 289.)

John Auman, 71, of Glenoma, Washington State, “who worked in the northern California forests with the late Ray Wallace says the 16-inch footprints Wallace made — using big, wooden feet strapped to his boots — weren’t a prank at all…[Auman] remembers the tracks as a theft deterrent, not just a joke…the big footprints scared off vandals who’d been coming to worksites and stealing fuel, batteries, engines — whatever wasn’t nailed down.” (Source: Seattle Times, December 9, 2002.)

Jim Rakoz, 71, of Battle Ground, Washington State, died September 13, 2004. His wife, Jean Rakoz remembered “her husband and his logging friends swapping stories of enduring Washington legends. In his hometown of Toledo, he helped spread the Bigfoot myth, laying Sasquatch tracks with the Wallace brothers.” (Source: The Columbian, September 18, 2004.)

To be continued, in Part II.

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.

8 Responses to “The Ray Wallace Debate”

  1. Roger Knights responds:

    Given the nefarious connotations of “hoax” in Bigfootdom, an alternative term for Green’s absurd-on-its-face April 1st spoof should have been used.

  2. Loren Coleman responds:

    Not exactly the focus I would want to have shined on this posting, but “newspaper hoax” is exactly what John Green wrote. It was a story about an attractive guest at the Harrison Hot Springs Hotel being carried off into the mountains by a hairy hominoid. Considering the Albert Ostman story that Green would later publicize, there was nothing “absurd” about his story.

    But granted, “hoax” may be the too difficult for some Bigfooters to swallow. Take your pick. Hoax = cock-and-bull story, crock, deceit, deception, diddling, fabrication, fake, falsification, fast one, fib, fraud, gimmick, hooey, humbug, hustle, imposture, joke, lie, practical joke, prank, put-on, ruse, scam, snow job, spoof, or whopper. All are given as words that may be used in the place of “hoax.” Green was trying to sell papers, so it was done with a financial motive underlying it, and thus other words could be used, but I choose not to go there.

    The point is, John Green’s innocent “newspaper hoax” was an exception in his life. Ray Wallace’s life was one prank, hoax, and illusion after another, often with fiscal, publicity, and unknown motives in the background. Green’s characterization of Wallace as merely a prankster is too subtle for what Wallace’s personality appears to demonstrate, and Wallace’s active placement of tracks must be considered seriously (not just tossed aside).

    The proof that Wallace laid down fake tracks is throughout the Bigfoot books. But placing those in contrast to the good tracks actually supports the case for a real animal even more so.

  3. Benjamin Radford responds:

    Very interesting analysis, cogent argument. Of course no one is saying that Wallace made all the suspect tracks, but it seems undeniable that several of them have shown up as “authenticated” tracks.

    (I wonder if I’m the Internet stalker or the Sasquatch psychic…)

  4. Questor responds:

    Wrong, Mr. Radford.

    Actually, I’ve read quite a few articles ascribing ALL tracks to Wallace. Maybe you’ve never said it, but it’s been said, and written, repeatedly.

  5. Tube responds:

    In my own experiments with creating fake tracks with over sized flexible plastic “prosthetics”, it quickly became apparent that simply attaching the fake feet to ones own feet is a significant issue due to the large momentary forces involved in bounding along. I’m not completely convinced that the straps shown on the Wallace “prosthetics” would be sufficient to attach them securely to ones feet to enable fake track making in a dynamic, bounding manner.

    I’ve put off testing this possibility because I’m not much of a woodworker, but this re-awakening of the Wallace controversy may spur me to actually do it.

    There is far too little testing and far too much opining in the world of Bigfootery.

  6. CryptoInformant responds:

    So did Wallace fake the original tracks?
    I’m confused.

  7. Loren Coleman responds:

    Various answers…

    Some news sources have seemed as if they were saying that Wallace created all the Bigfoot tracks throughout the Pacific Northwest. Neither skeptics nor investigators consider those as valid statements, but that’s a few reporters for you.

    No, Ben, you were on another list, and not the one including the unnamed.

    No, most of us that are interested in looking at the Wallace fakes in the record and consider Bigfoot a reality do *not* think Wallace made the track that Jerry Crew cast and took to the newspaper office. In other words, the Crew cast is not a Wallace fake, probably.

    Not all experiments in using fakes in experiments to see if they look like real tracks or to reproduce strides are discussed, written about, and certainly not published, often, Matt. Such actions in the 1960s were seen as “fakery” not “testing.” But I would bet that there has been and is a lot more testing occurring than you know about. For example, in 1960 and 1961, I was leaving footprints in snow and measuring snow melt rates, to see how it would change stride, configuration, and size. Did I ever write up those or later decades of testing I’ve done? No, not really. Opinions usually come from field experiments, experiences, and scholarly pursuits, Matt. Please, no rush to judgements before you survey the field a little more broadly. 🙂

  8. Rick Noll responds:

    I can’t believe this post!

    Ray Wallace could not hoax anything even if you felt sorry for the guy. I met him, talked with him, saw his casts and now the family wants to make a $movie$ about his life so they trump up the Bigfoot aspect of it. No? What else is the guy known for then? Who wants to sit and watch a documentary or docudrama of some construction worker? Lets talk about motive now.

    A liar is a liar and can’t be believed about anything. You can’t pick and chose what you want to believe. He has no credibility even as a hoaxer.

    Look at his fake casts, the ones he sold and you should start asking yourself how come if he made tracks and wooden feet as good as the ones that look like Titmus’s, does his later stuff seem so crude and Xerox like but for different sizes. So exact in shape that I question whether or not he had one of those toy machines that were popular back then that could trace a shape and duplicate it or change its scale… making it larger or smaller. Wallace was around Titmus and undoubtedly saw the original cast… maybe tracing it on a piece of paper even.

    I met him in 1975… his wife didn’t want me to talk with him but I did anyway… he was an unsophisticated huckster then… now he is dead and people want to make more out of him then he was.

    I have copies of all the casts being mentioned here and sorry Loren, Ray’s wooden feet do not match the Titmus one. That is why I put together that picture your sporting above.

    Ray should be remembered not as anything big here… but more as a footnote I’d think.

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