60 Seconds of Film that went Viral
October 20, 2020
In the now 53 years since this film clip was released to the public, the debate rages: is Bigfoot real or just a myth?
It was on October 20, 1967, when a grainy 16 mm film was recorded, elevating public consciousness of Bigfoot into the national consciousness. In subsequent days and years it made headlines as it purported to provide proof that Sasquatch did, indeed, exist.
The film was shot by Roger Patterson, along with Bob Gimlin, in the mountains near Bluff Creek in coastal Del Norte County California, about 40 miles south of the Oregon border. While most people likely believe that Patterson, and Gimlin who is shown riding a horse in the clip, were somehow randomly in this spot and happened to see Bigfoot, the real story pushes the bounds of believability.
We visit the Infallible Wikipedia and learn:
“Patterson said he became interested in Bigfoot after reading an article about the creature by Ivan T. Sanderson in True magazine in December 1959. In 1961 Sanderson published his encyclopedic Abominable Snowmen: Legend Come to Life, a worldwide survey of accounts of Bigfoot-type creatures, including recent track finds, etc. in the Bluff Creek area, which heightened his interest. Thereafter, Marian Place wrote:
‘In 1962 he visited Bluff Creek and talked with a whole host of Bigfoot-believers. In 1964 he returned and met a timber-cruiser named Pat Graves, who drove him to Laird Meadows. There Patterson saw fresh tracks—for him an almost unbearably exciting, spine-chilling experience. What a tremendous feat it would be—what a scientific breakthrough—if he could obtain unshakable evidence that these tracks were not the work of a prankster, but the actual mark of a hitherto unknown creature! If he succeeded, he would be famous! And rich! Alas, fame and fortune were not gained that year, nor the next, nor the next. Patterson invested thousands of hours and dollars combing Bigfoot and Sasquatch territory. He fought constant ridicule and a shortage of funds. … he founded … the Northwest Research Foundation. Through it he solicited funds . … The response was encouraging and enabled him to lead several expeditions. … In 1966 he published a paperback book at his own expense. … He added the income from its sales and his lectures to the search fund. As each wilderness jaunt failed to see or capture the monster, one by one the thrill-seekers dropped out. But Patterson never gave up.’
Patterson’s book, Do Abominable Snowmen of America Really Exist?, was self-published in 1966. The book has been characterized as ‘little more than a collection of newspaper clippings laced together with Patterson’s circus-poster style prose’. The book, however, contains 20 pages of previously unpublished interviews and letters, 17 drawings by Patterson of the encounters described in the text, 5 hand-drawn maps (rare in subsequent Bigfoot books), and almost 20 photos and illustrations from other sources. It was first reprinted in 1996 by Chris Murphy, and then again re-issued by Murphy in 2005 under the title The Bigfoot Film Controversy, with 81 pages of additional material by Murphy.”
What comes through is a man on a quest to prove Bigfoot existed and, perhaps, was willing to do anything in service of that ambition.
Over the years, researchers have studied Patterson’s film in an effort to prove or debunk its veracity.
At least one person, who knew Patterson, claimed he had rented a costume to use in the shooting of his film. Is it a huge creature or just a man in costume which is seen in the roughly minute long footage? No record of that costume rental exists and, like so many of the Bigfoot legends, is shrouded in mystery and a chain of unverifiable events.
Patterson’s footage seemed to ignite the public’s interest in Bigfoot and what has followed are a decades’ long series of individuals who claim to have seen Bigfoot. Added to the Patterson legacy are stories of Bigfoot captures, as well as recovery of a deceased Bigfoot. None have ever come to fruition. Hollywood got in on the action with the production of Harry and the Henderson’s, a fictional film which chronicled the story of a family who befriend one of the creatures and bridge the gap between humans and Bigfoot.
The debate rages to this day. A brief perusal of all the newspaper articles and citations in the Wikipedia article alone provides insight into the fact that one could spend their entire life just investigating this one topic, as was the case for Roger Patterson.
Patterson died in 1972 of cancer, just five years after the capture of the infamous footage.
Now, full disclosure: I thought it would be kind of fun to write an account of a possible Bigfoot encounter of my own and then say at the end ‘just kidding.’ I was prepared to do so but in the world of crazy connections I learned something about Roger Patterson which I had never known. He grew up, lived and died in my own hometown: Yakima, Washington.
Not only that, but getting the film footage out to the public was only possible due to Patterson’s brother in-law Albert DeAtley who provided the funding needed.
Hmmm, I thought, I went to school with a DeAtley. Which sent me to my high school annual and, sure enough two spots down and one spot over from where my own Senior picture appears is a picture of Roger Patterson’s niece.
How is it possible that I was in classes with her, graduated the same year, and never knew of this connection?
I have, however, had a couple ‘real’ Bigfoot ‘encounters.’ The most memorable one occurred a few years ago during a visit to Long Beach, Washington. Little did I know that day when Bigfoot appeared before me that I would be able to chronicle my own experience with the creature… thankfully I got away despite Mr. Bigfoot’s attempts at capture as shown in this photo…
The one and only ‘Bigfoot’ link I’m sharing today is about the Patterson-Gimlin film (shown above). Thank you Wikipedia for the always exhaustive- and infallible – information on important subjects.