Did a Sasquatch tear up the woods between two Virginia farms?
The mystery of this strange event has never been solved. Recent scientific discoveries and claims, however, may provide the inquisitive with clues.
It’s springtime in Virginia. The year is either 1967 or 1968, and possibly as late as 1972. My memory of time and dates from long-ago events are a little hazy these days. Not the incidents and sequences of events, however long ago they occurred. These events are crystal clear in the “documentary film” of my memories.
A giant and mysterious beast went berserk in the woods shared by two intermarried family farms. The destruction was extensive and required immediate repair. We farmers kept our herds of cows and heifers separate to prevent them from getting all mixed up. Both farms had planned to turn loose their herds into adjacent fields separated by the fences along Lost Creek. Compounding the mystery was odd feeling the destruction appeared to be far more playful than malicious. Or perhaps it was a warning?
Maybe there was more than one entity. Perhaps a small family of these unknown monsters was responsible for the bizarre rampage. At the time people, adults as well as us kids, thought a tornado was the most likely culprit even if a tornado made no sense at all as there were no storms. So we imagined a giant, troll-like creature and named it the Lost Creek Monster. We certainly hoped if there really was such a beast there was only one at most. Feeling a bit superstitious, we nonetheless prayed the monster would leave us alone. Especially if it was the Devil. But we were just as afraid of God.
As a boy I was fortunate enough to grow up on a dairy farm in rural Virginia. I got to spend a lot of time outdoors. Even smack dab in the buckle of the Bible Belt! When I see myself spending hours in front of computers and my urban children even more, I wonder about the consequences of such a cultural shift. Nature Deficit Disorder, a term reflecting our alienation from our natural world beyond the city, was something I never had to worry about for decades.
One afternoon my buddy Jimmy Hash and I went to explore Lost Creek. We lived maybe one and a quarter football fields apart. His dad worked with mine up the ridge at Riverview Farm. I lived up another hill with my family, and he lived down the hill with his. They rented a tenant house from the Farm, although they didn’t have to pay any rent, as it was included with Mr. Hash’s wages.
Lost Creek was the name I gave to a stream otherwise known on the survey maps as Line Branch. The latter was a common term for any nondescript stream that happened to form the boundary between two rural properties. It was part of a strange property issue as the creek lined an old dirt road bed that once upon a long time ago went from the Gates-Bass Road across Little Sandy River and up steep bluffs to the old, abandoned Burroughs’ Farm. The road had fallen into disuse and grown up and pretty much disappeared from view. Well, the first part was a long, gravel driveway from the paved road down to the Hash home. The rest was jungled ruts and old, broken-down fences.
Now that strip was at that time owned by a group of lawyers who for all practical purposes ignored the old right-of-way. The Bass and Gates families, all intermarried clans, used the land for their respective farms. The Gates farmed to the west of “Line Branch,” or rather to the west of a new-old fence then running along the east side of the creek. The Basses farmed to the east of that.
How did the name “Lost Creek” came to be? For us kids who pushed a little bit further downstream on each “expedition of exploration,” the creek seemed to vanish into thick woods and swamp jungles. We knew it must eventually flow into Little Sandy River, but somehow along the way the creek seemed to have lost its way. The truth was my friends, siblings, and I were scared of the woods, scared of bulls occasionally turned loose in the pastures nearby, and often got lost ourselves. Eventually other folks around the neighborhood adopted the designation though once we kids moved on away it fell into disuse. It was the sight of many boyhood adventures.
This intermittent stream began up near my house as a gully. This gully was in dryer times apparently driven in as part of the now-vanished road. Down in the wild, overgrown thickets across from Jimmy Hash’s house the gully opened up into a chasm. Floods scoured this ravine every time it rained hard and heavy. The red clay and pebble banks would flake off and rush downstream in a swirl of churning mud. The danger was greatest during hurricane season, and our parents repeatedly scolded us to stop playing in it. We would build forts in the little chasm during the peak of summer, only to have cows and floods destroy it in the fall.
We kids used to play around the small cascades at the upper lip of the chasm. During wet months a spring seeped out beneath the lip as the fields on either side of the gully drained down toward the ravine. The cows love to wander around and tromp in it. Then it flowed through an occasional pigpen, though there weren’t any hogs in it at that time. Below the pigpen another chasm appeared with a spring that ran during all but the driest months.
A little bit further down more springs fed in to swell together into a steadily flowing creek. The chasm below the abandoned pigpen quickly widened and deepened all the way down to where it disappeared in dense, tangled underbrush and dark, spooky forest. Small cascades fed into large pools of water over our heads in places. We loved to hang out during spring and summer to watch water striders, water bugs, tadpoles, frogs, turtles, damselflies, yellow jackets, dragonflies, songbirds, and minnows thriving in their natural element. And, of course, mosquitos and gnats. Once in a while we would come across old rusty fence wires, tin cans, and broken, scattered pieces of machinery.
Thick, overgrown woods grew wild on either side of the creek from the “flood chasm” all the way down, but it was a narrow neck of woods that quickly widened into the swampy forests of a lowland valley. Soft hills rolled off into cornfields and cow pastures. We spent many hours playing down in there, exploring a little bit further downstream each time, turning back as darkness fell and our moms were hollering for us to hurry home for supper.
When we were older our gang did explore all the way down to Little Sandy River, where Lost Creek flowed across a mini-delta of quicksand. In a way these waters flowed with history. Little Sandy flowed passed old farms into the Sandy, or Big Sandy, which flowed into the Appomattox River, which in turn flowed into the James. Near the mouth of Lost Creek, for example, the washed-out concrete and metal ruins of the old bridge to the Burroughs Farm lay toppled against the bank. Once upon a long time ago forgotten people crossed it in horse-drawn carriages and Model T Fords. I imagined kids chunking rocks into the water when tired old farmers and loggers weren’t fishing.
One day during those Stand by Me years three of us explored all up and down Lost Creek. We were patrolling territory we considered part of our self-declared but “hidden” empire-republic. I led my younger brother Joe Bass and our buddy Jimmy Hash. Influenced by the off-and-on quasi-civil war tearing through America at the time, we fancied ourselves a revolutionary guerrilla army fighting for independence from tyranny. All was well in the jungley woods of the steep-banked creek, so we returned home satisfied.
We did notice further downstream somewhat large blob-like compressions where something heavy and broad mashed up branches, bushes, and leaves. These markings we have seen before, but had dismissed them as random beds left behind by cows and deer in the night. It didn’t dawn upon us later cows and deer seek out the softest plant beds possible, usually tall grass glens. They avoided lying down atop branches and certainly didn’t pull together sticks and leaves in a pile to crush. We knocked apart odd sticks we found leaning up in forks of large brush or small trees or sometimes in triangle shapes. At the time those arrangements of sticks and brush seemed whimsical and accidental, so we, being such destructive-minded man-boys, knocked them apart without a thought.
The next morning dawned as clear and sunny as the previous day. Jimmy, Joe, and I marched down to Fort Independence, our military base built into another but dry ravine on the other side of the pasture from Lost Creek. As we looked across the fields, we noticed something wasn’t right. Fences had been torn up and trees thrown down.
Curious, we jumped out from our fort and jogged across the field with wooden spears in our hands. We stopped, stared, and cut loose with excited bursts of juvenile profanity. Together we poked and probed, making sure those weird log-tree trap-thingies didn’t clobber our heads.
Logs, big heavy logs, had been lifted off the ground and place high up beyond the reach of a tall man into the trees. These logs rested in the forks of limbs and branches. We were afraid a jiggle or two would send these logs crashing down atop us. The fencerow between the Gates and Bass farms along Lost Creek had been torn asunder and cast aside. Snapped barbed wire had sprung back into sloppy coils tangled into matted woven wire mashed flat. Small trees had been uprooted and bushes smashed apart. Large rocks were moved and tossed about. As we spent so much time in these parts and thus felt so intimate with the land, we recognized many of these stones and logs. They were not where they were yesterday.
Large chunks of dirt were scooped out from the creek banks as if something enormous clawed or stomped its way upward or leapt across from the other side. What also caught our attention were large areas of underbrush, weeds, and grass mashed down with sticks and leaves dragged into the middle. Something wild or some huge things laid down on the grown here in looked to us as wild, backwoods beds of sorts.
Bark was ripped off of trees as if by large, sharp claws. These gouges were few in number and situated about five or six feet off the ground. We did not see anything resembling unusual poop, vomit, or blood. Nor did we really look for it, so perhaps body fluids were there but unseen.
The damage was concentrated in the section of Lost Creek that stretched from the first spring below the old pigpen down to the first large pool or swimming hole. The affected distance along the creek was about 1/10 to 1/5 of a mile. We let Jimmy’s parents know as they lived close to the edge of the torn-up woods. Then we ran up to the barns to find my Dad and tell him, too. My father was glad we did so as he planned to put his dry cows and heifers out to pasture the same day. Turns out the Gateses next door had the same plan. Both farmers had the fence repaired with new strands of shiny barbed wire strung tight between fence posts and trees.
What caused the damage? What tore up the woods? How did it happen? We speculated at length, but no one could come up with any answers that made sense.
The mayhem in the woods creekside reminded us all of tornadoes. A tornado made the most sense. After all, a tornado is a frightful monster of a storm. And yet a tornado didn’t make any sense at all. The skies were clear. There were no storms. No storms in the night. No thunder and lightning. No hurricane winds. No loud noises. Tornadoes sound like freight trains roaring. Lightning strikes are loud. Thunder booms. So, what the Hell?
No one heard any noise or strange sounds, either. The Hashes lived the closest to the scene, and every one in their family of five claimed not to have heard a peep out of the woods overnight. Nothing. Jimmy and his two sisters and their parents were scared and grateful. Their home was so close to the scene they worried whatever demonic force did all that would return and destroy their home. No one could understand the silence.
Of course, it’s possible there was a lot of noise, but the acoustics could have funneled the sound in the opposite direction. That didn’t make any sense either, as the river valley tended to funnel sounds downriver and up tributary creeks. Happens all the time whether it’s a high, lonesome train over the ridgelines, or cows mooing and lowering down in the lowlands, or hunting dogs barking and baying in the middle of the night.
So we discarded tornadoes and thunderstorms. We also considered and dismissed humans with tools, chainsaws, or heavy equipment. There weren’t any tool marks or tread marks. Everything we saw was torn apart or broken off. We also considered and dismissed cattle. There weren’t cows or bulls in those fields. Nor did any other farmers off in the distance have any cattle wandering loose. Same thing with pigs. There weren’t any hogs around to root up the ground.
We considered and dismissed wild animals, too. No big zoo animals from faraway lands seemed remotely possible as there weren’t any zoo animals anywhere near our county. Black bears were a possibility, especially as they could climb trees and tear fences down. A small number of bears were around, and were extremely shy. The few bears about tended to stay way over in the state forests around Leahs Mountain. No grizzly bears lived anywhere near this part of the Continent. None of us, adults and youths alike, could determine how in the world any animal could have lift such big logs high up in the air and gently place them in the treetops. One thing that puzzled us the most was the mayhem appeared to have been done carefully. Imagine a careful and quiet destruction. What was the point?
There weren’t any unusual lights reported either. No flashlights or beacons. No flares or explosions. No fires. No ball lightning. No helicopters or airplanes or swamp gas.
As there had been UFO sightings and other sky or space related anomalies in the recent past in the area, we considered UFOs, too. Still didn’t make any sense. The more progressive spiritualists among us laughed at the fundamentalist religionists who seriously thought devils and demons were responsible but not ghosts.
Another unsolved mystery was the damage was local. It was confined to this narrow strip of woods along Lost Creek. No one reported any similar damage under equally bizarre circumstances. Tornadoes leave swaths of destruction. Bears leave poop and tell-tell claw marks. Cows stomp all over the place and splatter cowpies across anything and everything. There was no evidence of fire, either. And what made those big nests and weird arrangements of sticks?
Jimmy Hash and my brother Joe and I finally gave up and said it was an invisible giant monster dropped down from an alien spacecraft piloted by extraterrestrials. This monster gently tore up the woods and fences without being seen, and probably ran off to hide in the lowland swamps. Or maybe it was squatting nearby watching us without us being able to see it. If so, it was able to do so without emitting foul odors or leaving giant footprints or steaming piles of invisible poop. We children were also concerned for the safety of all those forts we built in all directions to defend our “revolution.” Would invisible monsters demolish all our hard work?
At this point the adults ridiculed this idea and just prayed whatever the hell it was would stay away and not return. Acts of God or the Devil were deemed more likely possibilities than invisible giant monsters from Outer Space going “Shhh…” to one another as they tore up the forest. One old man speculated it was a sign of the Second Coming of Jesus because “the good Lord was gonna open the Gates of Hell and turn loose the demons” before Christ reappeared in the skies with an army of angels and reanimated corpses. Next we might get a plague of locusts or boils and poxes upon our skin with Lost Creek and the two Sandy Rivers running red with blood and dead animals.
There was a real fear of the Tribulations of Bible Prophecy. Armageddon was expected to occur any moment. We were just as terrified of an angry, whimsical, wrathful God as much as we were of Satan the Devil. All of these terrors were exacerbated by the Cold War boiling with atomic bomb nightmares; waves of UFO intrusions, violent turmoil in our own country, Communist hysteria, and church talk equating the return of Jesus with thieves in the night. Growing up in such a climate of impending worldwide religious holocaust where most people were going to Hell no matter what made such Modern apocalyptic certainty believable to us Westerners.
Our belief systems worked the same way as tribes in the Congo or the Amazon believed in animistic witchdoctor magic and trees possessed by various spirits. Consciousness is consciousness, and each culture unconsciously develops reality-based agreements determined by often unspoken social consensus. One group believes in the Holy Trinity of God and the power of prayer with virgin births and resurrection of the dead. Meanwhile another group believes the world swarms with gods and goddesses, demons, ghosts, elves, angels, zombies, and that magickal spells truly work.
As television and motion pictures made the fantastic so real and beamed monsters and aliens directly into our imaginations via eyes and ears, well, we believed in monsters. If adults lied about Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny being real, we “guerrilla revolutionaries for freedom” also believed adults also lied if they claimed there were no such things as ghosts and monsters.
So we dubbed this phenomenon the Lost Creek Monster.
It was the only thing we could think of for many years. We imagined something part-giant gorilla and part-bull built like a gigantic ape-bull version of the mythic Minotaur. Or maybe a giant werewolf chimpanzee! Believe it or not, we kids kept a lookout for such monsters whenever we ventured deep into woods and swamps and remote fields. Eventually the Cold War ended, our children’s revolution in the woods petered out, we all grew up and drifted away. Both the Bass and Gates family farms went out of the dairy and crop businesses as the economy changed. The Sandy River Basin was dammed up and flooded. So far neither extraterrestrial invasions nor the Second Coming have occurred. Cycles of birth, life, and death continued on, and we never encountered the Lost Creek Monster again.
Many years later, maybe three decades later, random reminiscing dredged up the monster in occasional conversations. Speculation began to settle upon the possibility the Lost Creek Monster was really one or more wild humanoids emerging into widespread public awareness. Sasquatch, Bigfoot, Yeti, apemen, mountain devils, Florida skunk apes, and other indigenous terms were used to describe legends and claims of huge, powerful, and smart creatures.
At the same time the Human Genome Project and more refined DNA analysis allowed scientists to map our genetic history as a species. We now know the earlier members of our species, Homo sapiens, coexisted with at least two, maybe three to four other hominid species. There may be other species, too, as fossils occur only under certain conditions. Apparently the five species, Moderns plus Neanderthals, Denisovans, Hobbits, and the Red Deer Cave people interbred over time and place. Many of us Moderns have varying degrees of Neanderthal and Denisovan genes in our DNA. Our species became the only species. There is also genetic material of unknown origin as well. Certain DNA links have been traced back to pre-humanoid primates both the great apes and humans descended from. Who knows what other species’ genes live on inside our twisting strands of DNA?
Another group of researchers leveraged these recent advances in DNA and genetic analysis to shed light on the Bigfoot controversy. These myths and reports are regarded as legends and tall tales by many and as real living creatures, even people, by others who claim direct experiences. The Sasquatch Genome Project claimed to determined the Sasquatch are indigenous human hybrids. These arose in North America about 15,000 years ago from interbreeding between Modern humans (Homo sapiens) and an unknown hominin. Others reject the claims of the SGP and dismiss alleged Sasquatch DNA as small woodland animals. A bitter feud has erupted between the two camps. It’s exacerbated by quarrels over the controversies, politics, and financing of project funding, publishing, self-publishing, and the games behind so-called “peer review.”
Sasquatch genetics allegedly show no relationships to other Homo species including Neanderthals and Denisovans. Nor is there any genetic linkage to apes, included Gigantopithecus. This is the giant Asian ape, which stood about 10 feet tall, weighed up to 1,200 pounds, and coexisted with early humans including the first 100,000 years of Moderns. Many theorized Gigantopithecus was the direct ancestor to Bigfoot. This was prior to genetic testing. Without DNA analysis this theory was compelling. Now, however, there doesn’t appear to be genetic relationships beyond we’re all primates.
In addition, there is no immediate linkage to older human species including Homo heidelbergensis, especially as the latter died out hundreds of years before Sasquatch Bigfeet quickly evolved into existence via cross-hominin species hybridization. To be clear, there are controversies roiling around the research of the Sasquatch Genome Project and groups who consider Bigfoot to be human versus the others insisting Bigfoot is more of a giant ape and not a hominin at all.
Some Sasquatch are reportedly hairless and with different skin colors in ways similar to Modern humans. The majority are thick haired and move quickly with great stealth and quiet despite their bulk. Male Sasquatch seem to range in height from seven to twelve feet tall. Sasquatch women are shorter. According to those who have studied them up close, even claimed to spending time with them, Sasquatch are an intelligent aboriginal people with their own language, traditions, rituals, family structures, and a desire to avoid civilization. For a long time many Bigfoot researchers consider them nonhuman and more of a large, wild ape. Apparently we Moderns still misinterpret so-called “primitives” as stupid or at least not very bright. In this case first impressions, especially fleeting ones, may be mistaken.
Sasquatch prefer wilderness and have been seen all over North America. They make beds and leave behind structures of sticks arranged in various patterns that may be a symbolic, handcrafted language. Trees as high as 40 feet have been discovered bent over into unusual arches with treetops buried beneath dirt, rocks, and large logs. They live with extreme discretion, are nocturnal, prefer to remain quietly hidden, and yet can be violent or bluff-violent if provoked in a few, uncommon situations. Sasquatch are reported to prefer scaring Modern humans off by throwing large stones and logs near them but not at them. They enjoy twisting and uprooting trees. Bigfoots seem to delight in picking up and tossing heavy objects. Sometimes Sasquatch follow Moderns by creeping alongside them back in the bushes in a manner similar to how cougars stalk unaware humans sometimes for hours. Again, these are allegations by researchers and witnesses, some with evidence, claimed to be factual.
Is the Lost Creek Monster really a Sasquatch? Or a family or band of them? I do not know. The more I learn about Bigfoots from Native American descriptions of them to eyewitness accounts to new scientific research, I lean more and more toward Lost Creek Sasquatch. One or two are strong enough and quiet enough to spend all night carefully wreaking havoc and moving large rocks before fleeing into the woods as silent shadows. Sasquatch would be tall enough to gingerly place big, heavy logs up into treetops.
They’ve been reported in all 50 American states. My native state of Virginia has 53 sightings listed with 10 in 2012 and one so far this year. I lived in North Carolina for a period, too, where 79 sightings are listed with 3 from 2012. My home state of Washington has an astonishing 562 sightings listed with 3 so far for 2013. This is the most in the United States. Washington does have a high Modern human population combined with large expanses of wilderness. Alabama has more sightings than Alaska. Granted, not every sighting listed is a Bigfoot. Some could be misidentifications or a rare hoax. I found this information from the Geographic Database of Bigfoot/Sasquatch Sightings & Reports.
My brother Joe is an avid outdoorsman, a fisherman and hunter, and spends a lot of time in the forests tracking game. He said it is extremely rare to actually see a large animal including skeletons. They’re more likely to see you. As I long-distance backpacker, mountaineer, and kayaker, I’ve also found it rare to meet large, wild animals by happenstance.
When I look at all the possibilities for what the Lost Creek Monster really was, the Sasquatch or Bigfoot theory is the only one that makes any sense.
If true, perhaps those aboriginal people tore up the Lost Creek woods for play. I think it was for other reasons beside playfulness. I feel Sasquatch tried to warn us. But for what? Or against what or whom? The desecration of our environment and Bigfoot’s natural habitat by encroaching Modern civilization? Maybe it was a primal attempt to hold or reclaim territory by trying to scare us Moderns away.
Thirty to forty years after its rampage in the dark, the Lost Creek Monster leaves us with more questions than ever.
William Dudley Bass
26 February – 11 March 2013
NOTE: This article is my recollection of the event without any other reference. Within days of the event, I wrote my experiences and impressions down in my journal and also penned an unpublished article. In addition I drew pictures of the destruction by hand with a #2 pencil and colored my illustrations in with crayons. There weren’t any cameras available to me during those days. I was a boy in grade school at the time.
Years later, I wrote of this in greater detail as a more experienced author. In March of 2010, however, my house burned down and most of my work including my original memoirs of the Lost Creek Monster was destroyed.
For further information on Bigfoot, learn about the Sasquatch Genome Project at: http://sasquatchgenomeproject.org.
Also see the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization, which favors the Gigantopithecus hypothesis, at: http://www.bfro.net/.
You can track sightings at, “The Geographic Database of Bigfoot/Sasquatch Sightings and Reports,” at: http://www.bfro.net/GDB/default.asp.
To study Virginia’s Field Research for Bigfoot/Sasquatch, see “Sasquatch Watch of Virginia,” at: http://www.sasquatchwatch.org/index.html.
For more on Gigantopithecus, see, “Giant Ape Lived Alongside Humans,” in Science Daily, online at: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/11/051112122318.htm.
Also see, “Giant Asian Ape and Humans Coexisted, Might Have Interacted,” in National Geographic News at: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/12/1208_051208_giant_ape.html.
Fresh, common sense perspectives are found at the website for “Homo Hirsutus: New Theories of Bigfoot Evolution,” at: http://www.homohirsutus.com.
Wild stuff here on Bigfoot Evidence, which claims to be the “World’s Only 24/7 News Blog” on Sasquatch/Bigfoot and related anomalies presenting evidence and video as well as exposing pranks and hoaxes at: http://bigfootevidence.blogspot.com.
The following two websites address the recent find of a large, decomposing foot in the American Northeast baffling the authorities as tests continue:
“Big Foot Mystery Afoot: Bear, Human, or … ?” at Discovery News, http://news.discovery.com/animals/big-foot-mystery-afoot-bear-human-130419.htm.
“Fresh Bigfoot mystery as police admit they are baffled by giant decomposed foot found in Massachusetts wood,” at the UK Daily Mail Online: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2312876/Is-evidence-Bigfoot-Police-baffled-giant-decomposed-foot-Massachusetts-wood.html?ito=feeds-newsxml.
These July 2013 articles express the controversies, antagonisms, and politics among those deriding Dr. Melba Ketchum and her DNA testing. The Comments section are also informative, provocative, and, yes, entertaining as hell.
“I had the ‘Bigfoot DNA’ tested in a highly reputable lab. Here’s what I found.” SiGuy‘s Eric Berger at The Houston Chronicle: http://blog.chron.com/sciguy/2013/07/i-had-the-bigfoot-dna-tested-in-a-highly-reputable-lab-heres-what-i-found.
“Bigfoot DNA Tests: Melba Ketchum’s Research Results Are Bogus, Claims Houston Chronicle Report,” by Andy Campbell in the Weird News section of The Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/03/bigfoot-dna-test-results_n_3541431.html?utm_hp_ref=weird-news.
Copyright © 2013, 2015, 2016 by William Dudley Bass. All Rights Reserved until we Humans establish Wise Stewardship of and for our Earth and Solarian Commons. Thank you.