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Exploring American Monsters: Washington

Washington state, the most northwest of the contiguous United States, is bordered to the north by Canada, the south by Oregon, and the east by Idaho. It is the eighteenth largest of the United States, and has the thirteenth largest population, although most of that population lives in and around the city of Seattle. The geography of Washington is diverse; there are lowlands, fjords, rivers, glaciers, and mountains (which include several volcanoes). All of these varying landscapes have one thing in common. Trees. Lots and lots of trees. An estimated 40.7 per cent of the state is covered in them. Famous Washingtonians include game show host Bob Barker, Nirvana front man Kurt Cobain, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, guitarist Jimi Hendrix, and TV’s Batman Adam West. Washington state is the only state to be named after a president. It’s also the only state with a Batsquatch.

Batsquatch

Mt. Saint Helens (slogan, “come for the scenery, stay for the terrifying cryptids”) is an active volcano in the Cascade Mountains that boasts a VolcanoCam, Zipline Adventure, and gift shop. The volcano erupted in May 1980 producing avalanches that could have filled 1 million Olympic-sized swimming pools with debris. Around that time, Mt. Saint Helens also produced the Batsquatch.

After the eruption, people around the mountain began to report seeing a nine-foot-tall bluish-purple ape with blazing yellow eyes, and enormous bat wings.

The Tacoma News Tribune carried an article in April 1994 about 18-year-old Brian Canfield’s encounter with the monster. While driving along the edge of a forest, Canfield’s pickup unexpectedly shut down, and crawled to a stop. According to the article, “he saw the feet, descending. Bird feet. Claw feet. Then the legs, the torso, the chest. And the wings, folded, attached to the back of the broad shoulders. Then the head. That face. The creature, nine feet tall. Thirty feet away. Blue-tinted fur, yellowish eyes, tufted ears and sharp straight teeth. With a dust-raising thud it landed.” The monster glared at Canfield for a while, how long he didn’t know. Then it spread its wings and took off. With the beast gone, the truck started, and Canfield sped home.

In 2009, two friends hiking around Mount Shasta saw a “Hulk Hogan”-sized ape with “leathery wings” fly from a crevice and disappear into a grove of trees.

In 2011, a Washington man walking his dog saw something large in the sky with, “bat wings, blue fur and had … eyes glowing red. It was about nine feet tall at the least, after I watched it just flew away. “

Cadborosaurus

Lurking in the waters off the coast of Washington is a horse-headed serpent that has been seen up and down the coast of the Pacific Northwest for centuries. Although common in American Indian folklore, the first sighting of this creature, the Cadborosaurus, by Europeans dates back to the 1700s. The Cadborosaurus is described as a 50-foot-long grayish-brown serpent with vertical coils, and flippers.

There have been hundreds of sightings throughout the Pacific Northwest since the early 1900s, such as the 1934 report of thirty-foot-long remains discovered on Washington’s Henry Island. Whalers just north of Washington in Canadian waters found a Cadborosaurus in the belly of a sperm whale. In 1963, a rotting corpse with a horse-like head was found on the shores of Washington’s Oak Harbor.

In 2009, a fisherman named Kelly Nash shot a video in Alaska of what he claims to be a Cadborosaurus.

Is it Happy Hour yet?

Drunken bears

Bears are dangerous. There are an estimated 25,000 black bears in Washington – that’s eleven times more bears in the state than Italian immigrants. The bears are also apparently thirsty.

In 2004, campers at Baker Lake, Washington, woke to find a black bear lying unconscious outside their tent amongst a littering of empty beer cans. During the night the bear opened the cooler, and got into the beer. Campers had two brands in the cooler, the national domestic brand Busch, and the popular regional brand Rainier. The bear apparently preferred Rainier – it drank 36 of them.

“He drank the Rainier and wouldn’t drink the Busch beer,” campground bookkeeper Lisa Broxson told NBC News.

Wildlife agents tried to remove the bear, but it climbed into a tree because it simply wanted to sleep. Four hours later agents chased the bear away, however it came back to the spot the next morning. Agents brought in a humane trap and baited it with honey, doughnuts and two open cans of Rainier. That did the trick. After trapping the bear, authorities relocated it away from the campground.

Bigfoot

The Pacific Northwest is built for three things: logging, fishing, and Bigfoot. Washington has recorded more Bigfoot encounters than any other state with 573, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. The first instance of Bigfoot reported by white settlers in Washington is from a letter written in April 1840 by Protestant missionary Rev. Elkanah Walker. Walker wrote the local American Indians spoke of a “race of giants which inhabit a certain mountain off to the west of us.” The giants, covered in hair, would come down from the mountain, and steal the tribe’s salmon.

With 573 reports, sightings have obviously continued.

In July 2000, David Mills, a forest manager with the Suquamish Indian tribe, was inspecting the health of young trees when he heard strange sounds from deeper in the forest. He soon discovered what was making the noise.

“I watched this hairy thing on two legs,” he said in an article in the British Columbia, Canada, newspaper The Province. “It used its left arm to lift up a branch. … He turned in my direction and saw I was watching him, and ducked behind a tree.” The creature was covered in black hair, and was at least nine feet tall.

Fascinated, Mills tried to get closer to the beast, but it didn’t want that. The Bigfoot began to scream, and pound a tree with a rock. The closer Mills got, the louder the Bigfoot’s protest. But soon Mills discovered maybe it wasn’t him the Bigfoot was trying to warn away. A mother bear and cub came out of the brush to Mills’ left (no word if the mother bear was intoxicated).

A Bigfoot and two bear? Mills had enough. He turned and ran. “I flew down that hill,” he told the paper. “Then I just hopped in my truck and locked up the gate, and left the area.”

When Mills returned to the spot much later, he found a Bigfoot print, 15.7 inches long, and eight inches wide.

And that’s just one story of Washington’s Bigfoot. There are 572 more.

Rock Lake Washington.

Rock Lake Monster

Rock Lake, near the Idaho border, is a seven-mile long, mile-wide sliver of water that, at 375-feet deep, may be the home of a legendary serpent.

American Indians held Rock Lake in taboo after a monster rose from the depths of the lake hundreds of years ago, and devoured an entire tribe. Although there are no clear descriptions of this creature, it is often described as shaped like a swimming log that disappears under the water. Sightings are rare, but they do occur.

A 1995 article in The Spokesman-Review quoted a local amateur historian on sightings of the monster.

“My sis owns property on one of the lake’s points,” the historian told the newspaper. He asked to remain anonymous. “One evening, she was rounding the point into a bay when she saw something huge on top of the water suddenly splash and go under. I asked her how big it was. ‘It was as big as a tree and stretched further across than my living room,’ she said. I think it was a sturgeon myself.”

Sturgeon seems to be the popular answer for the surface sightings, as well as for the enormous underwater moving objects fishermen have seen with electronic equipment. The largest sturgeons can grow up to18 feet long and 4,400 pounds, which is pretty monstrous. However, according to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, there are no sturgeons in Rock Lake.

Next up: West Virginia.