Bigfoot big news in South Weber
Byline: Linette Gamboa
Standard-Examiner Davis Bureau
SOUTH WEBER -- It was 15 years ago a large creature with strange hair reportedly visited South Weber. No, not Dennis Rodman. Bigfoot.
For one week in February 1980 residents reported seeing, smelling and discovering signs of the legendary Sasquatch. But the experience must not have been a pleasant one for the Northwest native. He hasn't been back. Still, the incident has become folklore in this small Davis County community.
As legend goes, the beast was first sighted by Pauline Markham. Markham claimed she eyed the dark, hairy creature at 2:30 p.m. as it walked upright swinging its arms near the Weber-Davis Canal. The next day, Ronald Smith encountered the creature outside his home. Smith said he came home from work after a late swing shift and saw and heard the thing in the moonlight as he tried to feed his horses shortly after midnight. The next morning, Smith tracked the footprints in the snow and by calculating from the trees, assumed the creature was nine feet high. These were the only people who saw Bigfoot in South Weber, but numerous others found evidence of its presence, according to "South Weber History," a book compiled by local historian Lee Bell.
For instance, there were the tracks in the snow -- two sets. One large set that measured 15 inches long and seven feet apart, with another smaller set alongside it, as if the two beasts were walking hand in hand. Then there was the case of the stolen stew. Myrna Ray had burnt a kettle of stew and placed the pot on her back porch to cool. The next day, Ray found the heavy pot in the garden, about 300 yards from the porch, licked clean with large footprints around it. "It got everybody stirred up," Ray said. "They swear it was Bigfoot, they swear it was. They had all the trackings." Two boys traced the smaller tracks to a barn that was sectioned off by a barbed wire fence. On the fence, they found clumps of hair. The boys apparently took the hair strands to the Weber State College crime lab in Ogden and it was last reported by local newspapers that the hair could not be identified, said Sterling Gardner, who was a judge at the time. Gardner and his wife experienced the Bigfoot phenomena just by a nose. "We had a terrible smell outside the house and our dogs were barking all night long," Annette Gardner said. "It was like something was dead." It was a smell that the Gardners had never experienced and have never smelled since then.
The smell permeated through many homes and neighborhoods, the way a skunk smell seeps through any structure. It was reportedly one of the telltale signs that Bigfoot was near.
With these reports and a few others, a mini frenzy occurred. Schoolchildren would excitedly talk about looking for Bigfoot. Those who experienced seeing, hearing or finding evidence of the creature appeared on the TV news, talked on radio shows and were quoted in the newspapers. Bigfoot hunters from Oregon and Washington converged on the small Northern Utah town. People started locking their doors. Children wouldn't go out at night. Animals acted strangely.
But it wasn't all fun and excitement. An uneasiness settled in the town. "It's kind of an eerie feeling. To know that something that we didn't really know what it was, was here," said City Treasurer Kathy Poll. There are many theories as to Bigfoot's origins, Bigfoot from the Sherpa folklore of the yeti, to the Canadian. According to Bell's book, some Mormons believe Bigfoot isactually Cain, of the Old Testament's Cain and Abel, who is actually walking the Earth as a punishment from God. The entire South Weber incident of Bigfoot fever only lasted a week, but the legend will last a lifetime.
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Transmission from Ogden, Utah Publishing Editorial System <end article>