Copper State Monsters: Cryptids & Legends of Arizona is the new book from David Weatherly. You’ll know David from his previous books: Black Eyed Children and Strange Intruders (among others). As you’ll guess from the title of David’s new book, this one is focused on the subject of Cryptozoology, or the study of unknown animals. And, as you’ll also see, it’s very much a regional study of strange creatures. I particularly like regional-based books on unknown animals, mainly because you’re far more likely to get highly detailed accounts, rather than brief entries in a book that might be focused on a nationwide or worldwide study. You’ll be pleased to know that David will have more books published in this series. Maybe even a book on every U.S. state (I hope!), which would be a great achievement. And, with that said, let’s take a look at the book.
As is the case in all of David’s books, Copper State Monsters is very much driven by David’s own, personal research, which is always a bonus. The book begins with a foreword from cryptozoologist Ken Gerhard, who says: “David Weatherly truly is in the pole position to write a book on the monsters of Arizona. An experienced and well-traveled paranormal investigator with a passion for cryptids and monsters, he is intimately familiar with the region,” adding that David “displays a sense of adventure suitable for the task.” Indeed, he does. With that said, let us now take a look at the content. David begins with accounts and sightings of the Thunderbirds of Native American lore. He is someone who is well versed in the subject (as Ken Gerhard notes, “David has studied shamanistic practices around the world and understands the Navajo people, as well as other Native traditions and legends”).
As Copper State Monsters makes it clear, reports of large, anomalous birds (and bird-like “things”) abound in Arizona. As an example, there’s this from David, a story that dates back to 1999: “A witness driving on State Route 89A through Oak Canyon claimed she saw a giant, bat-like creature that quickly flew away when it noticed her. The witness swears the thing was close enough for her to see details of the beast, and she was positive it was a normal or known bird or animal of any kind.” In 2012, David reveals, something that appeared “prehistoric” was seen in the skies of Sedona. Incredibly, the description was not unlike that of a pterosaur.
Still on the matter of monsters of the skies, we now come to my favorite chapter in David’s book. The title of the chapter: “The Thunderbird Photograph.” If you don’t know the story, you really should. It’s a very strange saga concerning the complete disappearance of an old photo of a Thunderbird “nailed to a wall” in Arizona. Dozens of people (maybe, even more than that) claim to have seen the photo. One of them was John Keel, and David addresses Keel’s comments on all of this, which makes for a great bonus. But, for decades the picture has remained 100 percent elusive. It’s almost as if it was somehow wiped from history – albeit not from memory. David’s 10-pages-long chapter on this still-mystifying saga makes for excellent reading.
David also digs deep into accounts of Bigfoot – and Bigfoot-like – beasts in Arizona. We learn of the “Mogollon Monster;” of the “Old Man of the Mountain;” and of the “Big Hairy Man.” David discusses a 1903 case of a creature described as having “long white hair” (also referred to as “a coat of gray hair”). Although white Bigfoot are far less in number than the traditional dark-haired creatures, there are enough cases on record to demonstrate it’s a real aspect of the overall phenomenon. “Mountain apes” are also addressed, as are Bigfoot encounters in Flagstaff, Arizona, in what is a fascinating chapter. In fact, you may be surprised by the sheer number of Bigfoot reports that have been made in Arizona. I particularly enjoyed the chapters of the book that covered Apache country, Hopi lands, and the Navajo nation. These three sections include some little-known data on close encounters with Bigfoot.
Other sections include “Wondrous Wildlife;” and “Arizona’s Camels;” the latter being something I have written about in the past. It’s an engaging and strange story of the U.S. Government’s camel corps and how, in an odd way, they became a part of Cryptozoology. Just like the U.K., the state of Arizona has its very own “Alien Big Cats.” We’re talking about large cats that have no business roaming around the Copper State. A “monster spotted leopard;” a “husky black panther;” and “a large black feline” are just the beginning of things. Add to that “killer bees;” the Chupacabra; vampires; and creepy “Lizard People” and what you have is an excellent study of the many bizarre creatures of Arizona. A great book!