Pacific Northwest Book Review
"Strange Monsters of the Pacific Northwest"
By Michael Newton
Publisher: Schiffer Publishing Ltd. (2010)
Strange monsters briefly glimpsed in passing have fueled urban legends, ghost stories and outright hoaxes for centuries. While the white man has only inhabited the Pacific Northwest area of North America for about two hundred years, Native American legends tell of huge creatures with humanoid features that no longer exist, such as the Thunderbird.
Author Michael Newton’s 2010 book “Strange Monsters of the Pacific Northwest” includes thousands of unconfirmed reports from Washington state and Oregon that describe scary sea monsters, lake dwellers and swamp things, huge flying beasts, 12-foot-tall hairy bipeds, various races of aliens and tiny elves who wear clothes and use tools.
Inexplicable sightings of strange creatures from afar are often reported to authorities by witnesses, and those reports may be printed in newspapers either seriously or playfully. A handful of similar reports a year collected for decades can grow to become thousands of similar reports, and enough to fill a book.
I was particularly interested to read about the legend of Bigfoot, a local favorite in Lewis County, Washington. Is Bigfoot a myth, a real mountain man gone wild or a manlike bear that walks on its hind legs? Early descriptions from eyewitnesses tell of a ferocious beast with fiery, glowing eyes that burned with rage. This beast would howl at night, attack early settlers, harass loggers, steal game meat from hunters and attempt to abduct women and children. It was covered from head to foot with shaggy hair and reeked of a terrible odor. Coincidentally, this also matches the description of the bogey man, or that thing that goes bump in the night.
Contemporary reports of Bigfoot or Sasquatch describe a more docile, reclusive and migratory animal, often spotted crossing highways, yodeling on hilltops or peering inside windows at night. Eyewitness reports of Bigfoot sightings are most often made by children, motorists, truckers, loggers, hunters and hikers. According to numerous accounts, Bigfoot has been struck by dozens of cars and trucks and shot at by hunters and frightened people with guns, but has always escaped unharmed and vanished again without a trace.
Newton’s “Strange Monsters” catalogs thousands of reports of unexplained sightings without discretion and belongs with books about the Bermuda Triangle, Loch Ness monster and ancient Egyptian aliens.
Anyone who believes they have seen an alien or a ghost, Sasquatch, lake monster or some other supernatural phenomenon will disagree that such things are myths. Unfortunately, Newton’s chronological list of thousands of possible Bigfoot sightings prefers quantity over quality, with far too many entries like “in March (1992), a child saw ‘something covered with hair’ near Seattle” (page 142), attributed to questionable sources such as websites that have since vanished.
Readers who tend to scrutinize the validity of reports like these may have trouble reconciling inconsistencies between eyewitness reports, such as the color of Bigfoot alternating between black, white, brown, brownish black, reddish brown and blonde. He is a large bipedal creature seven feet tall, fourteen feet tall and every height in between. Descriptions of Bigfoot resemble an ape, bear, chimp, cougar, elk or other large mammal. A large number of Sasquatch sightings are told in the second or third person, frequently with no names identified, and usually with no evidence.
The absence of Bigfoot bodies, bones or other genuine artifacts besides plaster footprints and grainy photos suggests either a huge cover-up by the U.S. government lasting more than two centuries or a fantastic attempt by cryptozoologists and other creative people to explain the inexplicable.
Review by John Morgan, 11/29/2014