I don’t often write about cryptids, but this month’s Legends and Lore is a tale from Miller County, Arkansas. This is the same area where a series of unsolved murders occurred in the 1940s. If you haven’t read my post about the Texarkana Phantom Killer, you can click this link.
Fouke, Arkansas is a tiny town of around 860 people located in the Texarkana metropolitan area. The Native American Caddo Tribe inhabited the area long before the European colonization of North America. Fouke was founded in 1890 by a Seventh-Day Baptist minister and his followers. The town got its name from James H. Fouke, an entrepreneur, lumberman, and railroad executive who helped the settlers establish their colony.
In the early 1970s, Fouke received nationwide attention due to several sightings and claims of a bigfoot-like creature. Reports described it as a large bipedal creature, around 7 feet tall, weighing 250-300 pounds, covered in long, dark hair, and having bright red eyes the size of a silver dollar. Witnesses also described a terrible odor—something like a cross between a skunk and a wet dog.
As with the case with many such tales, the creature “grew,” eventually becoming ten feet tall with a weight of 800 pounds.
The first sighting occurred on May 2, 1971, when the monster attacked the home of Bobby and Elizabeth Ford. According to Elizabeth, the creature reached through a screen window as she was sleeping. Her husband and brother chased the creature away, firing several shots at it, but no blood was found. There were three-toed footprints near the house as well as scratch marks and damage to a window.
The next sighting occurred on May 23 when three people reported seeing an ape-like creature crossing U. S. Highway 71. Over the next few months, more sightings occurred by local residents and tourists. A set of footprints were taken from a soybean field, but game wardens were unable to confirm their authenticity.
Interest increased, and a Little Rock radio station offered a $1,090.00 bounty on the creature. A strange amount, for sure. Attempts to track the monster using dogs were unsuccessful as they were unable to follow the scent.
After hunters became interested, the county sheriff was forced to put a temporary “no guns” policy in place for public safety reasons. Three people were fined for filing a “fraudulent monster report.”
Public interest began to wane until the 1972 docudrama horror film The Legend of Boggy Creek was released. It played in theaters around the country and became the eleventh highest-grossing film of that year.
Interest waned again by 1974 only to resurface when two brothers reported seeing tracks near Russellville, Arkansas. Since then there have been sporadic sightings in the state through the 1990s. One witness claimed to have seen the creature jump from a bridge in 1991.
Archeologist Frank Schambach determined there was a “99 percent chance the footprints were a hoax.” Schambach noted primates, including hominids, have five toes. Other anomalies included there was no history of primate activity in the area ruling out the possibility of the monster being a descendant of some indigenous species. The creature was also nocturnal whereas primates are diurnal.
Some Fouke public officials, including the mayor and former sheriff Leslie Greer, believed the tracks to be man-made. H. L. Phillips, a chief deputy at the time who took many phone calls related to the sightings said, “I don’t believe in it. But I’d say you don’t argue with people who say they’ve seen it. Many were respectable and responsible folks.”
What do you think? Hoax, vivid imaginations, real, or legend? Please share in the comments.
I will be taking a break for the rest of this week due to the Thanksgiving Holiday. For those in the United States, I wish you a happy one. I’ll be back next week.