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BOOK REVIEW: "Beyond Boggy Creek" by Lyle Blackburn

Anomalist Books
"Beyond Boggy Creek" is Lyle Blackburn's latest book on the Bigfoot phenomenon, with a focus on the American South.
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BOOK REVIEW: Beyond Boggy Creek: In Search of the Southern Sasquatch by Lyle Blackburn (Anomalist Books) 2017

In late August 2000 I was working as a newspaper reporter for The Town Talk, a daily paper based in Alexandria, Louisiana, which covered a large swath of the central part of the state at that time.

So, when my editor, Richard Sharkey, came into the newsroom, chuckling, and saying the Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Office had answered a call from some folks in the rural community of Cotton Island claiming to “have seen a Bigfoot” and that footprints had been left in the ground.

Well, I immediately followed up on the information, going out to the site with a photographer. And yes, deputies took a plaster cast of the footprints, which were pressed into the still-muddy earth in a mostly-dry bayou (the area was in the middle of a drought).

Except for the reports of a “Skunk Ape” in Florida and the Bigfoot-like “Boggy Creek Monster” of southwestern Arkansas (which spawned the 1972 classic film The Legend of Boggy Creek), I did not think there were legitimate Bigfoot sightings in Louisiana. But after interviewing the eyewitnesses and covering the story for several weeks that year, I came away a true believer in what some call a “Southern Sasquatch” and that it was not simply a phenomenon specific to the Pacific Northwest. 

My August 2000 front page article on Cotton Island, La. Bigfoot sighting. (Andrew W. Griffin / Red Dirt Report)

Following those stories in 2000, other sightings came my way, many from the western part of the state, including a Zwolle, La. man named Hosea Remedies (who passed away in 2013) who gave me a detailed report on a large, bipedal and hairy creature watching him from a treeline on his property there in rural Sabine Parish, an area that is very forested and swampy. A perfect habitat for an unknown creature to call home, while staying largely under the radar.

So, when I learned about Texas-based writer and researcher into cryptozoology, Lyle Blackburn, had followed up his prior book The Beast of Boggy Creek with Beyond Boggy Creek, with a focus on reporting on the cryptid he calls the “Southern Sasquatch,” I immediately picked it up.

And I was not disappointed with the thorough research Blackburn conducts into this enduring mystery, even referencing my newspaper reports from 2000 which described loggers Carl Dubois and Earl Whitstine telling me, at the time, that the creature “was hairy and looked like a human in a way.”

I often wondered if the drought that year had something to do with increasing encounters between humans and cryptids like Bigfoot (aka Sasquatch). As Blackburn notes, these creatures follow creeks and rivers and often seen not far from a flowing body of water like the Red River, for instance, separating Texas and Oklahoma.

But Blackburn (who includes lots of photos in this book that has a warm, conversational style) takes us beyond the state of Louisiana, covering Texas and Arkansas and plenty in eastern Oklahoma where in early 2000 (a busy year for Bigfoot, it turns out) that in the community of Honobia, in far southeastern Oklahoma, a Bigfoot-like creature was harassing a family there, to the point that they sought help in the matter.

Word spread and others reported seeing the creature. Since then, Honobia hosts an annual Bigfoot Conference and Festival each October. And as I have reported here at Red Dirt Report, there have been Bigfoot sightings even in the central part of the state - which is the more wide open, Cross Timbers region. In 2015, during a visit to Binger, in Caddo County, I reported on a Boy Scout troop having an encounter with a "wild man" said to be connected to Bigfoot.

Other close encounters in this region have been reported, including near Paris, Texas, some 70 miles southwest of Honobia, where a woman was allegedly attacked in her car by a creature in 2002.

But not all of the encounters are violent and/or scary. And Native American tribes like the Caddo and Choctaw have long been aware of unknown primates lurking in the swamps and forests of the American South.

And Blackburn takes us through the Deep Southm through the swamps of Florida and up to the Appalachian Mountains, sharing a harrowing tale from an Appalachian Trail hiker in Georgia who was stalked by a "malevolent ape-man" who could have "had his way" with the hiker, who would ditch his AT hiking plans due to his fear of possibly encountering the creature once again.

What was interesting about the hiker's report was the "overwhelming sense of fear" that overcame him while in his tent. This "fear" sensation has been reported by the late John Keel when he was searching for Mothman in 1967 in Point Pleasant, West Virginia. It's as if the presence of these unknown creatures gives off a "fear" vibe that goes to the eyewitnesses' core. For me, this makes me wonder if these creatures are not entirely physical, that there is something different about them. That they exist on a different plane, somehow, and cross over into our realm of existence at certain times. 

Blackburn does not really explore that angle, but it is one to consider in light of other fantastical creature sightings folks have had for years - even centuries.

And so the Bigfoot mystery endures.

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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