January 2, 2011

Bigfoot and Railroad Trackways

There is a rare story, unelaborated, the tidbit of which is currently being investigated by Strange Maine author Michelle Souliere, that tells of the finding of an “apeman” near the railroad tracks at Greenville, Maine, in 1856. It holds the promise of further intrigue. Can you help? Has any Cryptomundian ever heard of this 1856 case and knows more details?

This item has brought to mind the quite frequent place that railroads fit into such stories.

Have you ever noticed there seems to be something special going on with railroad tracks and Bigfoot?

For anyone who reads the hominological and cryptozoological literature, you will be quite familiar with the notion that railroads keep popping up in sighting accounts. Cases like the Enfield Monster of Illinois, 1973, mention the railroad tracks almost as if they are being used as the avenues of movement for the creature. In the midst of a series of Bigfoot sightings, on January 15, 1980, near Manchester, Iowa, railroad engineer Cyrii O’Brien, who was on a train at the time, saw a strange creature on all fours eating a carcass; weird six-toed tracks were found in the area later. (See a related video here.)

Rail right-of-ways are natural greenbelts for animals to employ for ease of travel. Is it any wonder that railroads are so often involved?

Railways, of course, have been used as a form of explanation, too. Various threads have been linked to the railroads in Bigfoot stories in the same fashion that the “wrecked circus train myths” were used by early news reporters to explain away unknown mystery cat sightings. Those “circus trains,” needless to say, rode the rail lines.

It will be recalled that during the “white wild man” sightings in British Columbia, in 1922, it was written at the time that “the ‘wild-men’ running at large, more or less, [have been sighted] ever since the advent of the G.T.P., [and were] supposed to have been working on the railroad construction, afterwards squatting on the wild lands abounding in this district, until they in turn become ‘wild’ themselves, according to the remoteness from supplies or from other human companions.” Source.

The stray people became the feral or wild people who became Sasquatch, we are told. The theme has been used before.

One of the most discussed historic Bigfoot-railroad cases, of course, is the Jacko incident.

The story of Jacko – that of a small, apelike, young Sasquatch said to have been captured alive in the 1800s – is a piece of folklore that refuses to die, despite a superb investigative article published in 1975, co-authored by John Green and Sabina W. Sanderson.

The investigation into the Jacko story did not began until decades later. During the 1950s, a news reporter named Brian McKelvie became interested in the then-current stories of the Sasquatch being carried by his local British Columbian papers. McKelvie searched for older reports. What he found was the Daily British Colonist July 4, 1884, article about Jacko. The account detailed the sighting of a smallish hairy creature (“something of the gorilla type”) supposedly seen and captured near Yale, British Columbia, on June 30, 1884, and housed in a local jail.

McKelvie shared the Jacko account with researchers John Green and René Dahinden. MeKelvie told them this was the only record of the event due to a fire that had destroyed other area newspapers of the time.

In 1958, John Green found and interviewed a man (August Castle) who remembered the Jacko talk of the time, but he said his parents did not take him to the jail to see the beast. Other senior citizens remembered the talk of the creature, but no one could produce any truly good evidence for or eyewitness accounts (other than the British Colonist story) of Jacko.

The story’s appearance in Ivan T. Sanderson’s 1961 Abominable Snowmen: Legend Come to Life propelled the Jacko incident into history. I dealt with the Jacko story anew in my book, Bigfoot! The True Story of Apes in America (NY: Simon and Schuster, 2003), beginning on page 41, and have written of it before on Cryptomundo, here.

Meanwhile, some of the older accounts are merely short references to the sightings of wild people (whatever that means).

For example, the appearance of a “black wild man” is noted in one old article as having been seen near a railroad station in 1870 at Chatawa, Mississippi. This seems similar to the Vincennes Monster (also said to look like a “black wild man”) seen near a railroad bridge in Indiana, in 1885.

But the question for today is, what happened in Greenville, Maine, in 1856?

BTW, when is an old report of a “wild man” in Maine not really in the state of Maine? When it’s an account from Maine, New York, of course.

In Robert Bartholomew’s and Paul Bartholomew’s Bigfoot: Encounters in New York & New England (2008), the authors detail “wild-man” sightings occurring between August and November 1883 at just such a location. They write that these encounters took place “in extreme south central New York near the small town of Maine on the western border of Broome County, northwest of Binghamton.”

This Maine (New York) creature was described as “low in stature, covered with hair, and running while bent close to the ground” with no forearms as its “arms ended at the elbows,” (p. 22). I wonder how any of the Cryptomundian artist would draw that creature?

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.

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