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Seeing Sasquatch

Michelle Souliere compiles Mainers' cryptid sightings in "Bigfoot in Maine"

by | Jul 18, 2021

Bigfoot in Maine
By Michelle Y. Souliere
Arcadia Publishing

If Bigfoot exists, a strong case can be made that the cryptic hominid lives in Maine. As Michelle Souliere explains in her detailed, intriguing new book, Bigfoot in Maine, our state has many topographic and ecological features advantageous to such a creature, chief among them the millions of unpopulated acres in the North Woods. Plus, I mean, it’s Maine — who doesn’t want to live in this gorgeous corner of the country, especially where you can do so rent-free?

Souliere actually explores this angle, detailing sightings of “wildmen” in the 18th and 19th century that may have simply been homo sapiens on the bum. In 1788, there was a “general belief” that “Wildmen” were roaming around Gorham, Scarborough and Westbrook. “[T]here were seen in the fields and in the woods ragged human beings having long, shaggy hair and beards,” Souliere recounts, citing Scarborough Becomes a Town, by Dorothy Shaw Libbey. “These people were seen picking berries, green corn, and peas. When they discovered that they were being watched they would run away.”

In 1895, the Bar Harbor Record reported that “a man thought to be the wild man of Scarboro [sic] Marsh, near Portland, was found Friday in a hovel eating a broiled cat.” Is Bigfoot just an evolution of Mainers of yesteryear displaced by colonialism and gentrification? That would explain a big part of the mystery: Why they want nothing whatsoever to do with us, and have been known on occasion to throw rocks at us.

Souliere is more serious in her approach to the topic. She’s spent years tracking down eyewitnesses, interviewing them and visiting the sites of sightings. Ultimately, she reserves judgment on the central question of whether Bigfoot is real, judiciously allowing the accounts to speak for themselves.

As one reads the testimonials in Bigfoot in Maine, which date from the 1960s to the present, even a non-believer will start to question their assumptions. The sheer number of sightings is the most persuasive argument in favor of Bigfoot’s existence, followed by the remarkable consistency of most descriptions — the creature’s long arms, short neck and invisible ears are common details, as are the reddish-brown hue, length and distribution of its hair, and its penchant for roaring and breaking tree limbs.

John Hawkins’ account of an encounter in the White Mountains near Fryeburg in the late 1970s is among the scariest. He and a lady friend were in a tent in a small clearing off a steep game trail when they heard something big running down the path on two legs, with confidence, like it knew where it was going in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night. It “passed their tent and gave a grunt of surprise” that “almost sounded like a person with a low bull alligator growl to its voice as it said, ‘Uh!’

“They listened, scared to death,” Souliere recounts. “The sound had come from high in the air. Whatever it was, it was tall.” The creature slowly circled their tent four times, lightly rubbing its nylon walls with an appendage: “You could see it was a hand,” Hawkins told Souliere. “It was huge.” Then the thing resumed its journey downhill, having thoroughly ruined Hawkins’ date.

Janelle Graf’s personal accounts of sightings from the late ’70s to the present, and those of her father and neighbors in the Skowhegan area, are the sort that immediately turn the question into one of the witnesses’ credibility. For example, her father, Fred Moody, and two friends claimed in 1977 to have seen a large Bigfoot standing in the middle of a road taking a leak. It allegedly ran into the woods right after they spotted it.

Moody “was a man to be believed,” Souliere wrote, “even when he said he’d seen an unbelievable thing.” She quotes a game warden who called Moody “very woods-savvy” — unlikely to, say, mistake a bear for a Bigfoot, especially when it’s heaving boulders at your skidder — and a Maine Warden Service supervisor who called Moody “completely trustworthy.” “If he says he saw something, I’m certain that he did,” that warden told a reporter. “What it is, I wouldn’t venture to guess.”

Souliere repeatedly notes that the scrutiny, suspicion and mockery that Bigfoot witnesses face have compelled an uncountable number of Mainers to never go public. Given the way the government and corporate media treat ordinary humans, that’s not an unreasonable decision. If you see Bigfoot in Maine, give Souliere the tip and keep the cops out of it — they’ll be no help at all.

 

You can buy Bigfoot in Maine (and meet the author) at her store, The Green Hand Bookshop (661 Congress St., Portland).

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