| A recent sasquatch sighting
near Silverton has renewed discussion on whether the elusive,
apelike man-beast has taken up residence in the San Juans./Photo
by Todd Newcomer.
For centuries, a primordial man-beast standing
8 feet tall has allegedly stalked the woods of North America.
Covered in matted black hair and reeking of sulphur, it has
managed to eke out a solitary, primitive existence while eluding
even the savviest of would-be captors. In fact, the only hard
evidence of the creature, whose name meant “wild man”
among ancient coastal Indians, is a grainy, 35-year-old, one-minute
clip of black and white 16-mm film.
Until now that is.
this month, several eyewitnesses on the Durango and Silverton
Narrow Gauge Train got a glimpse of a loping, apelike creature
whose unmistakable profile and overwhelming stench could only
mean one thing. Sasquatch is alive and well in the San Juans.
“The first thing that struck me knowing the Silverton
people was that it was a joke,” said Vi McCoy, of Durango,
who was on the fateful second train out of Silverton on the
afternoon of Oct. 1.
According to McCoy, who was riding the train with her husband,
the creature approached the train from behind not long after
it left the Silverton depot.
“Most of us didn’t see it until people started
squealing,” she said, adding that the sasquatch was about
100 yards from her car. “It all happened so fast.”
McCoy, who had just put her camera away when the beast appeared,
described the sasquatch as “wild and woolly,” with
a solid black coat.
“This looked like one of those gorilla suits from a movie
scene,” she said.
And while it would be convenient to pass off the incident as
a case of premature cabin fever among the local populace, McCoy
is not so quick to dismiss it, based upon a TV documentary she
“If I hadn’t seen that documentary, I wouldn’t
have given it a second thought,” she said. “But
it looked so much like those old documentaries 85 and anything’s
possible in this day and age.”
McCoy’s account was corroborated by at least one D&SNGRR
higher-up, Kristi Nelson-Cohen, who also happened to be on the
train that day – part of an annual entourage that reserves
the Parlor Car every year on Oct. 1.
“It was just before Mineral Creek shortly after 2 o’clock,”
she said. “The train had just pulled out, and sasquatch
was to the east of the train.”
If Nelson Cohen sounds a bit unfazed by the sighting, she admits
it’s because sasquatch sightings are not all that uncommon
from the well-stocked Parlor Car.
Nevertheless, Nelson Cohen managed to get a good look at the
beast and in her defense said that cocktails “had not
yet begun flowing” when the incident took place.
“It was very tall and hairy,” she said, adding
that the creature appeared “far too tall” for any
standard gorilla suit. “It walked straight and with a
Nelson Cohen said the bright orange steam train apparently
caught the lumbering primate off guard.
“The sasquatch looked a little nervous,” she said.
“The whistle must have scared him.”
Profiling the beast
According to the Bigfoot Field Researcher’s Organization,
an international group of scientists dedicated to studying the
mystery of bigfoot/sasquatch (which are one of the same), such
sightings are rare but not unheard of in Colorado. Since 1998,
the group has recorded 63 sasquatch sightings in Colorado, not
including the latest one in Silverton. Of these, two have been
in Archuleta County, one in Hinsdale County, one in San Juan
County, two in Montezuma County and one in Dolores County.
The other reported sighting in San Juan County occurred in
July of 1998 when three hikers spotted a sasquatch in the region
of the Twin Sisters, about four miles south of Silverton, according
to a report posted on the BFRO website. More recently, two sasquatches
were reported across the border in Hinsdale County. In August
of 2005, a 54-year-old woman reported coming within several
feet of a mother bigfoot and her assumed offspring while camping
in the San Juan National Forest.
“We stared at each other for what felt like a long time,
then it made a low rumbling sound and turned its head,”
reported the camper, “Julie D.” of Boulder, who
also told her story to the Denver Post. “(The female bigfoot)
looked back at me, then they turned and loped off out of sight.”
| The Silverton sasquatch quenches
his thirst at Handlebars after a hard day of scaring train
riders./ Photo courtesy Ken Boden.
The Hinsdale sighting dispels a common myth: that bigfoot is
a single entity. The BFRO maintains there are between 2,000
and 6,000 bigfoots – male and female – roaming the
hinterlands of North America, with sighting as far north as
Alaska and as far south as San Antonio, Texas. The animals commonly
have black or dark brown hair (contrary to popular belief bigfoots
do not have “fur”) although their coats can range
from red to gray or white. The average adult grows to 7.6 feet
tall and 640 pounds, although they have been know to weigh in
at over 1,000 pounds and 10 feet tall.
A little-known fact about the sasquatch is the unbearable stench
that frequently accompanies one within close range. According
to the BFRO, about 15 percent of people having close encounters
with bigfoots also reported an “intense, disagreeable
stench,” which is believed to come from the sweat glands
of the sasquatch armpit. Despite this offensive trait and the
fact that bigfoots have been known to lift mobile homes from
their bases, the BFRO reports that they are mostly docile and
passive to a fault. Rather, sasquatch are reported to be gentle,
smart, nocturnal creatures that would just as soon hunt nuts
and berries than humans.
“There is no documented case in the past 100 years of
a sasquatch doing deliberate harm to a person,” the BFRO
reports on its website, www.bfro.net. “This species, having
likely evolved alongside humans, became astonishingly adept
at avoiding human contact through a process of natural selection.”
Fact or Fabrication?
This apparent evolution and ability to evade humans may explain
why most people can go an entire lifetime without spotting a
sasquatch and why Charles Moore, undersheriff for San Juan County,
has never received a sasquatch report in his 13 years policing
the sleepy hamlet.
“I have never personally received any calls and don’t
know of any calls on sasquatch, bigfoot or the yeti coming into
this office,” he said in a recent phone interview.
And although he says he “wasn’t there and didn’t
see” the most recent sasquatch sighting and thus, could
not comment on it, he wagered a guess that it was a case of
mistaken identity. He also noted that the purported sighting
was in a location that would be “a very convenient place”
for a gorilla-suit clad human to make a mad dash from the nearby
“It probably is a total fabrication,” he concluded.
But there is at least one local who stands by his sasquatch
sighting. When asked to comment on a trail of suspicious black
hairballs and large footprints that led through the town’s
dusty streets to his establishment, Ken Boden, owner of the
local watering hole Handlebars, caved.
“There’s no doubt sasquatch lives at Handlebars,”
he admitted. “He likes our food.”
And in a development that is likely to shake the very foundation
of the Bigfoot research world, Boden acknowledged that he has
rare footage of sasquatch (which has been obtained by The Telegraph),
the likes of which haven’t been seen since the famous
“I think he was in here watching Monday Night Football,”
Boden said in a recent interview from Silverton. “Scared
the heck out of me.”
Nevertheless, despite the sasquatch’s startling appearance
(“big and furry...fingers that almost drag on the ground”),
less than perfect manners (“he sounds like Mush Mouth”)
and distinctly fishy odor (“he eats a lot of trout out
of the Animas”), Boden says sasquatch seems to get along
OK with the regulars.
“He’s a good guy,” he said. “But we’re
hoping to find him a Mrs. Sasquatch.”
Unfortunately, Boden said any sasquatch trackers wishing to
get a glimpse of the shy giant of the mountains will have to
wait until next year. Handlebars closed for the season this
week, taking with it its legendary clientele, which is said
to spend the off season in warmer climes.
“He hibernates in Phoenix,” he said.