Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Wild Man - 19th Century Bigfoot Sightings in Arkansas

Swamps of Eastern Arkansas
It might be a common perception that the first recorded sightings of the gigantic, hair-covered creature known as Bigfoot took place in the Pacific Northwest, but this is not true.

As hunters and settlers pushed deeper into the wooded frontiers of the early South, they often came into a contact with a monster that they usually called the "Wild Man of the Woods." Mirroring modern-day accounts by eyewitnesses who say they have seen Bigfoot, the 19th century reports indicate the Wild Man was a gigantic, hair-covered creature with unusually large feet.

Some of the most compelling written accounts originated in Arkansas in the 1840s, although these same reports indicated the monster had been seen there as early as 1834. In 1846, however, a newspaper story spread across the nation reporting a sighting near Crowley's Ridge west of Memphis. The monster's track, it was said, "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."

Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas
The description of the footprints clearly is almost identical with modern accounts and is one of the earliest recorded descriptions of a Bigfoot's tracks.

The sightings in Arkansas continued to be covered by the nation's newspapers until the eve of the Civil War when, of course, other news took priority. By the time the war ended, the Arkansas Wild Man had almost been forgotten, although the term "Arkansas Wild Man" continued to be used to describe rowdier residents of the Natural State.

There are, of course, Bigfoot sightings in Arkansas to this day and the southwest corner of the state is famed for its Fouke Monster (immortalized in the low budget film "The Legend of Boggy Creek"). But the historical 19th century accounts survive as some of the earliest accounts of the mysterious creature and as such are a unique part of the history of the Natural State.

To read a full account, please visit www.exploresouthernhistory.com/arwildman.

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