Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Arkansas Wild Man - A Pre-Civil War Bigfoot in the Natural State

Mountains of Arkansas
One of my favorite Arkansas stories from newspapers dating before the Civil War is the tale of the famed Wild Man of the Woods, clearly a 19th century manifestation of the creature that most today know as Bigfoot or Sasquatch.

Reports in the Memphis Enquirer indicate the creature was first reported in eastern Arkansas as early as 1834. The first detailed account, however, was published in 1846 and repeated in newspapers across the nation. It told of sightings of the creature near Crowley's Ridge west of Memphis. The "wild man" was said to be of gigantic stature, covered in hair, and eyewitnesses said that "his track measures 22 inches, his toes are as long as a common man's fingers, and in height and make, he is double the usual size."

This was one of the first detailed accounts of the discovery of Bigfoot tracks in American history and came long before the first recorded sightings in the Pacific Northwest.

Swamp in Eastern Arkansas
Over the decades that followed, the Wild Man seems to have made regular appearances about every five years. He was seen chasing a herd of cattle in 1851 and Colonel David C. Cross of Memphis organized an expedition to capture him. The effort failed, but it seems to have been the first recorded Bigfoot hunt in American history.

Reports of the creature appeared again in 1856, this time in southern Arkansas and up into the Ouachita Mountains. A fairly bizarre report even told of a vicious attack on a man who was part of a group trying to capture the monster.

Bigfoot reports continue in Arkansas to this day, but the 19th century written accounts hold a unique place in the history of the United States.

To learn more about the real history of the Arkansas Wild Man, please visit www.exploresouthernhistory.com/arwildman.

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