Bigfoot is one of our favorite monsters and is enjoying a new era of popularity.
The term “Bigfoot” was invented in 1958, following a widely publicized discovery of giant footprints around a road construction site in Northern California. Anthropologist Dr. Jeffrey Meldrum, author of the “Sasquatch Field Guide” from 2013, describes Bigfoot as a hair-covered, 7-to-10-foot tall, 600-to-1,000-pound hominoid creature occupying forested areas of North America.
Not just confined to the Pacific Northwest, Bigfoot, to the surprise of some, has enjoyed a rich history within the Pine Tree State.
The earliest stories of Bigfoot-like creatures are Native American stories from all over North America that contain many accounts of cannibal giants and hairy man-like monsters. In Maine, the Penobscot told stories of the cannibalistic giant Kiwakwa. The monstrous Apotamkin belongs to the Passamaquoddy. The Micmac had legends of Chenoo or Djenu.
The Chenoo of Micmac legends were a tribe of powerful giants favoring colder climes. Legend has it their piercing shriek alone could be fatal. Chenoo were difficult to kill, and their hearts were solid ice. It was possible to befriend a Chenoo, however, and their magical, superhuman powers could benefit their human comrades.
Hairy hominid anecdotes from American history, particularly the 19th century, permeated society and were often shared in popular magazines and newspapers.
Employing terms like “wild man” or “whazzit,” these accounts sometimes described beings who were unquestionably human. Some accounts of mysterious human-like creatures dovetail with our modern conception of Bigfoot.
Between accounts of Bigfoot, wild man stories and other whazzit tales, there are well over 100 reports of giant, hairy creatures occurring within Maine. Many Maine sightings have occurred near water, or in forested areas or mountainous terrain, and most happened during summer or autumn months.
1895: In South Gardner, a correspondent to the Boston Globe wrote of people near the outskirts of town startled by unearthly shrieks. Two women and three boys picking blueberries had come upon a hairy monster that walked upright on its hind legs like a man. The animal looked like “an immense African monkey.”
early 1900s: Maine author T. M. Gray mentions in her “New England Graveside Tales” (2010), a woman’s story of her father encountering a strange creature while logging. While driving to camp, a large, hairy man ran out of the woods and darted across the road, causing him to slam on his truck’s brakes. Joined by fellow lumberjacks, they searched for the strange creature but never saw it again.
1942: The “Bigfoot Encounters” website contains a story of two sisters’ childhood experiences on Meddybemps Lake where their family would go to fish for smallmouth bass. The girls would fish from a rocky island until one night a howling described as “melodious singing from someone with a husky voice” echoed across the lake. The girls were later confronted by a pair of hair-covered giants who took their fish.
1973: The “Durham Gorilla sightings” began in late July into mid-August 1973. The first sighting was by a group of children biking on the Shiloh Road in Durham where they encountered a creature they described as resembling a chimpanzee.
1984: While engaged in trout fishing with his uncle in Sullivan, a man reported encountering a 7- to 8-foot-tall creature, dark brown in color and in full view only 50 feet away. The witness estimated the creature weighed between 400 and 500 pounds.
2006: Michael Merchant, aka SnowWalkerPrime, is a Maine-based Bigfoot researcher who has conducted a series of interviews with Bigfoot witnesses. Among these interviews are an Ellsworth couple who related traveling south on Route 1A one October night. They suddenly glimpsed on the left hand side of the road a figure, standing on two legs, that moved into the road. Backlit by a street light, the couple saw that it was tall, thin and had very long arms. In a fluid motion the thing hunched forward, putting its hands on the ground and bounded across the road on all fours. When almost across the road, it was joined by an identical, smaller creature following in similar, quadrupedal movements. The fluid, powerful mode of locomotion impressed the couple as apparently inhuman.
2014: Bill Brock of Durham has been investigating a claim of Bigfoot in Turner with an accompanying video occurring late in 2014. The video shows a dark figure walking across a woodland trail. Brock is a believer in leveraging new technology in the hunt for Bigfoot and promotes the benefits of drones for data collection and evidence evaluation.
These centuries-spanning accounts reveal the breadth and volume of mysterious, human-like creatures occurring within Maine. Several people are conducting Bigfoot active research in Maine, including Dan Soucy and the aforementioned Michael Merchant and Dave Brock. Check out their YouTube channels for their field research videos and thoughts on the subject.
Daniel S. Green is a resident of Maine, growing up in Franklin, the town he still calls home. He is currently a major in the U.S. Army and the recent author of “Shadows in the Woods,” a book about Bigfoot in Maine, released by Coachwhip Publications in March.