by Lyn Horner
"Bigfoot" or "Sasquatch" is a legendary ape-like creature believed by some to exist in the Pacific Northwest. But did you know cryptozoologists are diligently searching for the same type of animal in the Lone Star State? Indian legend and modern day sightings indicate they may be on the right track.
I’ve been researching Caddo Lake in East Texas to use as a setting in my upcoming book (title still up in the air.) Lying half in Texas and half in Louisiana, Caddo Lake is named after the Caddoan Native American tribes who inhabited the area in days past. It’s the only natural lake in Texas and the largest one in the south, covering approximately 26,800 acres. And it may be an ideal habitat for Bigfoot.
How the lake formed has been debated. One theory claims it was created by the New Madrid earthquakes of December 1811. Centered in northeast Arkansas, the quakes strongly shook an estimated 50,000 square miles.
An alternate theory suggests the lake was formed by the Great Red River Raft, a huge log jam that extended above and below present day Shreveport, LA. for some 160 miles. Having formed over several centuries, the raft completely blocked the river channel and caused massive flooding. However, tree rings and geologic evidence prove Caddo Lake even older than the raft.
Note: The Great Raft was cleared after the invention of nitroglycerin.
During the 1800s, Caddo Lake made Jefferson, Texas the state’s second largest port. Only Galveston shipped more goods and people to and from Texas in those days. Steamboats moved up the Mississippi River, into the Red River and on to Jefferson via Caddo Lake and Big Cypress Bayou. For four decades, large quantities of cotton and other materials were carried down this route to New Orleans.
Today, Caddo is a mysterious wonderland of lake and wetland, home to waterfowl, alligators, turtles, frogs, snakes, raccoons, minks, beavers, white-tailed deer and other mammals. Bald cypress trees draped with Spanish moss and aquatic plants thrive in the maze of sloughs, bayous, and ponds.
Photo in the Public Domain; Wikipedia Commons
The lake is also bordered by tall pine forests – the East Texas Piney Woods, nearly 12 million acres of forestland. What, you thought Texas was all prairie and longhorn cattle? Nope. We boast four national forests and five state forests in East Texas, spreading over forty-three counties. It’s this part of the state where most sightings of Bigfoot are reported.
The Texas Bigfoot Research Center, located in Jefferson, is a non-profit organization dedicated to proving the existence of the legendary creature in this region. The center has recorded several substantiated sightings of the hairy “ape-man” in the lake region, as well as hundreds of unofficial reports.
One such beast called the "Caddo Critter" is said to have inhabited the bottoms around Caddo Lake in the 1970's. Similar stories have come from the Sulphur River area along the Texas-Arkansas border for decades, and farther south, Sabine residents reported seeing a hairy gray ape-like animal in the area's dense forests in 2000. It was dubbed the "Sabine Thing."
Bobby Hamilton, founder of the Gulf Coast Bigfoot Research Organization (GCBRO), states, "I know it sounds crazy, but there are Bigfoot creatures right here in Texas. . . . I've been researching these creatures in the field for quite some time now. They're out there." Hamilton goes on to say, "We have recorded some noises we just can't place with known animals. Some of these sounds are pretty amazing, even frightening.”
Loren Coleman, co-author of A Field Guide to Bigfoot, Yeti and Other Mystery Primates Worldwide and viewed by many as the world's foremost cryptozoologist, asserts there are numerous historical references to apelike creatures in the South, both from Europeans and Native Americans. "The Louisiana Choctaw Indians had an animal they called the nalusa fayala, which means ‘long, evil being’," he said.
While no one has produced a clear photo of a Bigfoot, let alone an actual specimen here in Texas, the Caddo Lake region, with it’s dark forests and misty waters, surely offers a perfect hiding place for the shy, reclusive creatures. If they exist.
Now here’s a peek inside my “nameless” book. Hint: It begins in Ireland but shifts to Texas, and there’s a supernatural element. Oh, and it’s the first in a series.
She gave him a funny look then turned to stare out her side window. “There’s a lake!” she suddenly exclaimed. “I can see it through the trees.”
Clearing his throat, he managed to speak in a normal voice. “Yeah. Guess I forgot to tell you the cabin backs up to Caddo Lake.”
“You certainly did.”
They rounded a gentle curve and he slowed to turn onto the winding drive leading to the cabin. When it appeared behind the screen of tall pines Lara gave an astonished cry, making Conn grin in satisfaction.
“That’s the cabin? It’s huge!” She gaped at the two-story log structure as he pulled up in front. The place was impressive with its wraparound porch, upper balcony and professionally landscaped grounds.
“I did tell you it belongs to the company I work for. The big bosses use it for meetings and to entertain clients, but they make it available for us roughnecks when there’s nothing going on out here. Lucky for you and me it’s empty for the next couple weeks.”
She scowled at him. “You’re a devil, Connor O’Shea! You deliberately didn’t tell me what to expect, admit it.” Her lips twitched, telling him her affronted act was all in fun.
He laughed and reached out to give her shiny dark braid a tug. “You’ve got me there, honey.” He didn’t intend to kiss her, but when her eyes widened and her rosy lips parted, he gave in to temptation. Her warm breath fanned his face as he bent close.
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