Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Butte Bigfoot Exhibition

While I have titled this a Bigfoot exhibition, it was back then labeled as a "wild man" exhibition, as the term "Bigfoot" did not exist until the late 1950's time frame. Nor was it referred to as a wild ape or monkey display as at the time, the trend to label these wild men as ape-like creature still had not gained momentum. It really wasn't until Fred Becks encounter with the wild men in 1924 that the reference to the simian world took hold.

For thousands of years, wild men were always simply that; wild men. For the most part they were covered in hair, wore no clothing, and lived beyond the grip of normal society, mostly hidden in the backwoods and jungles of the world. So, when we are researching the history of this phenomenon, we are required to forget the monstorized version of this creature and look for other names. This is where research gets tricky. Mostly because not all wild men were of the sort we call Bigfoot today. And even then, the ones that do come close to a Bigfoot description were still not of the common monster(by today's terms) variety.

I'm really not certain as to the exact time frame that Bigfoot developed into the monster we consider him to be today, only that it seems to have followed the popular entertainment trends over the last 100 years or so. As the literature and theatrical presentations of this creature became more and more garish, more beastly and evil, our perception of what this creature is has likewise changed. The end result has been, of course, that instead of looking for what was once simply a wild man of the woods, we are now looking for a monstrous beast that can be over a dozen feet tall, and possesses magical abilities.

We'll continue with that thought in another blog post, but today I want to share the story of this exhibition that took place in Butte Montana back in 1895. It is an interesting story, and turns out to be true, although not quite as exciting as originally presented in the first reference I read regarding this creature.

The story, from an autobiography by James Wardner, of Wardner Idaho fame describes the exhibited subject thusly:

This creature was short, well built, and his body was covered with hair of the length and shade of a black bear's. The hair of his head was in clusters and mats as big as your hand, lying plastered on his head and dangling on his neck...he had eyebrows fully four inches long, sticking nearly straight out, behind which glistened as bright a pair of round, quick, glittering brown eyes as were ever seen in ape or chimpanzee.
Certainly sounds like it fits the Bigfoot bill, although the height was a little lacking. But maybe it was a younger Bigfoot, not fully all grown up? Was this story a hoax, was it a real Bigfoot, was it just a wild man? Follow along on the video and find the answers as Bigfoot Tales shares the story of the Butte Bigfoot Exhibition...