Make your own free website on

Home Up

Waynesboro, PA Track Find February 2002

The below is information regarding a find of some alleged Bigfoot tracks near a small, southern Pennsylvania town on February 14, 2002. 

Frederick, MD
Frederick News-Post
Footprints: Prankster or monster?
By Frank J. Giovinazzi
News-Post Staff

WAYNESBORO, Pa. The footprints are there, deep in the muck on both sides of the creek. They run for about 300 yards. There are 40 or more of them, said Mike Hilton, 28, of South Mountain. "I was skeptical at first until I seen them," Mr. Hilton said Monday night as he led the way through the darkness into the Waynesboro Reservoir, to investigate the tracks left in the mud.

The footprints if that's what they are are about 13 inches long and 6 inches wide. They have a rounded heel like a human's, but spread out into what looks like a set of five dangerous claws. They are sunk about 4 or 5 inches in the mud, indicating some weight was behind whatever made them. Mr. Hilton said they were discovered by his co-worker Steve Gates a few days ago. Mr. Hilton won't venture to say what he thinks made the footprints, prankster or monster. But, he said as he illuminated the tracks with a flashlight, "Tell me that ain't a big foot."

Deb Brownley, of Fairfield, Pa., was taking photos under the light. "I'm a wildlife biology major and I've never seen anything like it," said Ms. Brownley.  "It's kind of almost looks like an ape's foot only bigger," Mr. Hilton said.

Ms. Brownley was taking pictures of the prints that hadn't been tampered with, as well as those tracks that are filled with plaster.

Mr. Gates is making the plaster casts, in order to verify what he found, Mr. Hilton said. "If it was me, I'd make one just to say I saw it," he said. "I never seen anything like it before in my life," Mr. Hilton said.

Mr. Hilton said an investigator of unusual phenomena from the state of Washington has been called in and is expected to arrive within a few days.

Both Mr. Gates and Mr. Hilton are employees of Quebecor Printing in Fairfield.

Waynesboro, PA
Waynesboro Record Herald
Tuesday, February 18, 2002

Pennsylvania no stranger to Bigfoot sightings

WAYNESBORO -- Call it Bigfoot, Sasquatch, a Nape or whatever, there have been sightings of primate-like creatures in Pennsylvania since the 1830s, according to researchers. The first dates back to the 1830s in Bridgewater, where a man picking berries reportedly saw a "juvenile Bigfoot" that ran off when it was chased, according to Loren Coleman, a cryptozoologist and author of several books on the subject.

In July 1901, three coon hunters in Pennsbury Township claim to have seen an animal with a "man's head and neck (and a) wild beast's body" jump from a tree and terrify their hunting dogs. Several sightings occurred in late 1920 and early 1921 in the mountains of Snyder County, where a gorilla-like animal "attacked a small boy, breaking his arm, held up automobiles, rifled smokehouses and the like."

The Web site for the Bigfoot Field Research Organization listed several reports from Franklin, Adams and Fulton counties. In April 1996 in Franklin County, a witness reported a "loud vocalization heard matching those played on television." In October 1997, bowhunters reported seeing several creatures in Adams County, according to the Web site. There have been reports of numerous vocalizations in Fulton County from 1984 to 1994.

The mostly likely states for sightings are Washington with 239, California with 181 and Oregon with 102, according to the BFRO site. One BFRO investigator said there have been more than 5,000 of what he termed "credible sightings" and more than 1,000 plaster casts of footprints made over the years. The only states without sightings are Delaware and Hawaii. The most famous sighting is the much-disputed 1967 film by Roger Patterson and Robert Gimlin supporting to show a Bigfoot female walking through the woods in the Pacific Northwest.

This 15-inch long footprint was one of hundreds discovered last week along the northern edge of the Waynesboro Reservoir.


Waynesboro, PA
Waynesboro Record Herald
Tuesday, February 18, 2002

Bigfoot or tall tale? Ruckus at the reservoir Believers insist prints are real, skeptics scratch their heads

By DON AINES Staff writer

As you read this story, there is either a large ape-like creature wandering the woods and hills skirting the Waynesboro Reservoir, or some good ol' boy laughing his head off.

The discovery last week by two Waynesboro brothers of large, unusually shaped footprints in the muddy flats around the half-empty reservoir has piqued the interest of cryptozoologists, paranormal investigators and researchers from Maine to Maryland. Three were at the reservoir Sunday to take videos, measurements and plaster casts of the prints.

Last week, Steve and Denny Gates saw photographs in The Record Herald showing how low the reservoir level has dropped during the drought. When they went up to take a look for themselves, they found tracks at the creek at the upper end of the reservoir. "They were very distinct. You could see toe marks, the heel, even the arch," Steve Gates said Monday. He said hundreds of prints extended about 350 yards in the mud before disappearing back into the woods. "We came home and talked about what we'd found. It was mind blowing," he said. "I'm almost convinced now," said Denny Gates. "I never really believed one way or another before." Paul Scott, Steve's brother-in-law, went up to the reservoir to see for himself. "It makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up," he said. The three took their own video and made casts with automobile body putty, Scott said.

Scott related the discovery to his mother, Darlene Taylor in South Carolina, over the Internet. It was Taylor who typed "Bigfoot" into her computer and came up with the Bigfoot Field Research Organization (BFRO). After some phone calls, Scott said they were contacted by Ron B., a BFRO investigator from Salisbury, Md., who didn't want his last name used. "A lot of our investigators hold sensitive jobs," Ron B. explained. Because exposure of their interest in Bigfoot "could ruin our careers and standing in the community," many members do not give out their last names. "That's very common in the cryptozoology community," he said. He was one of the three investigators who went to the reservoir Sunday. He described the 15-inch long, 8-inch wide impressions as the footprint "of an unknown hominid," or human-like creature. "We found no knuckle or handprints. It was walking in a bipedal fashion," he explained. Ron B. said BFRO members prefer the word "Sasquatch" -- not Bigfoot to describe such creatures. An American Indian word for "wild man," he said Sasquatch has less of a "supermarket tabloid" ring. Ron B. was reluctant to guess the height or weight of the animal, since the footprints are different than those purported to be of the Sasquatch in the Pacific Northwest. A Sasquatch print of similar size, however, would indicate an animal about 7 feet tall and more than 400 pounds, he said. Ron B. said he actually observed a Sasquatch for several minutes from a distance during an investigation in Anne Arundel County, Md., last year.

A different opinion comes from Loren Coleman, a Portland, Maine, cryptozoologist and author of "The Field Guide to Bigfoot, Yeti, and Other Mystery Primates Worldwide." He examined a photo of one print e-mailed to him by The Record Herald. "Someone could have taken the time and trouble to bring about one of the biggest hoaxes in your county in what...a lifetime," Coleman wrote in an e-mail. "However, several things seem to indicate that if it is a hoax, it is a very clever one." His prime example was the positioning of the toe, which "compares favorably with other footprints of these unknown pongids, or "Napes.'" "The Hallux -- the anthropological name for the big toe -- is out to the side...which would mean it's a much more ape-like creature than the Sasquatch," he explained in a telephone interview. The name he prefers for such primates is "Napes," for North American apes, which he said range throughout the Southeast into the Mid-Atlantic and lower Midwest states. Although there is a yardstick next to the print in the photo, Coleman said it is not in a straight position. "Reconfiguring it in a straight line from front of the middle toe to the back heel, this print only measures 12.5 to 13 inches long. That is well within the parameters for the usual measurements of the Nape in the East." He estimated a Nape would be little more than 5 feet tall and that the stride measurement of up to 5 feet would indicate it was running along part of the print track. Coleman said he would need to see more prints before he could determine if the prints are a hoax. "It's the study of undiscovered or hidden animals," Coleman said of cryptozoology. "It's been a sub-discipline of zoology since 1959."

"It doesn't look like anything I've seen," said Eric Altman of Jeanette after receiving a picture of the print via e-mail. The director of the Pennsylvania Bigfoot Society, Altman said, "Usually, the track I see is much wider" from the front to the heel of the foot. Altman said he formed his 100-member group in 1999, after a split with BFRO.

Rick Fisher, a society member and paranormal investigator from York, sent an e-mail saying he was coming to the reservoir today. Fisher, who also heads the Pennsylvania Ghosthunters Society, said he's been with the Pennsylvania Bigfoot Society for about a year and this is the second incident in the region he has looked into. The other occurred about three months ago north of Harrisburg, but "repeated efforts to contact the witness proved futile."

"I think you have to have an open mind," said Dr. Christine Loveland, an anthropologist at Shippensburg University. At the same time, she said the likelihood of a large primate living in this region "on a scale of one to 10 is probably a minus something.

"From an archaeological or anthropological perspective, there's nothing to support that," she said. Primates aren't usually found in temperate regions, don't tolerate winter weather well and live in social groups, which would make it difficult for them to remain hidden in a realtively populated area. "If it were a prank, I'm sure it would be possible for someone to pull it off."

Coleman said it's possible for a creature to remain hidden for decades. He cited the mountain gorilla in Africa whose existence took 60 years to confirm and the 70 years it took to find a giant panda specimen.

Ron B. said a specimen, preferably the body of one that died of natural causes, would be "the Holy Grail" of Bigfoot research.

Coleman said there's a reason no body has been found. "You're not going to trip over the body of a Bigfoot, just like you're not going to trip over the body of a bear" that died of natural causes.

At The Hut in Rouzerville, bartender Keith Flood scrutinized the photo under dim light. "That's a big foot," he remarked. "There's bear around there, but that's not a bear," Flood said. He said he's never seen a bear carcass in the woods, either. "Somebody is running around up there with a pair of fake shoes," he said.

"April Fool's Day is five weeks away," said Terry Sheffler who, like Flood, has done some hunting. He said someone probably took advantage of the low water level to make tracks in the fresh mud where they could be easily seen.

Steve Gates said he expects to hear from skeptics about what he and his brother found. "I saw what I saw, and if people don't believe, then I figure I'm the lucky one," he said. "People don't believe in God, but he's real."

Steve and Denny Gates with one of the many footprints they discovered Thursday.

Frederick (MD) News-Post
Wednesday, February 20, 2002

Origin of odd footprints in reservoir a mystery
By Frank J. Giovinazzi
News-Post Staff

WAYNESBORO, Pa. The mysterious footprints left in a nearly dry reservoir bed are starting to fade, but the debate over their origin lingers on. Steve Gates and his brother Dennis found the prints on Valentine's Day, just before dark. They had gone to the Waynesboro reservoir to see a reported 13-foot drop in the water level for themselves.

"We been in the mountains ever since we were kids," Mr. Gates, 28, said. "We never seen nothing like this, never."

What they saw was a set of footprints running on both sides of a slow moving creek. He estimates they go for about 400 yards and there are about 300 to 400 of them. The prints are about 13 inches long and 6 inches wide. They have a rounded heel and spread out into what looks like a set of five long claws. One of the digits presumably the big toe sticks out prominently to the side. That characteristic may prove to be an important clue in determining their origin, according to one researcher.

Mr. Gates said night was closing in when they found the prints. "Truthfully, I had an eerie feeling," he said about walking out of the reservoir. "I had chills all over me."

They went back Friday and videotaped the prints, then showed the tape to their brother-in-law, Paul Scott. "I watched the video and the hairs stood up on the back of my neck," Mr. Scott, 42, said. Mr. Scott, a man with 35 years hunting experience, also said he'd never seen anything like them before. "What could it possibly be?"

On Sunday, they contacted Jeffrey Lemley, a noted Bigfoot researcher who lives in Washington state. Unable to make it himself, Mr. Lemley mobilized several volunteers from the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization. The group's Web site,, states it is "the only scientific organization probing the Bigfoot/Sasquatch mystery." Mr. Gates said the BFRO team was baffled by what they found. "They couldn't understand it, they said it wasn't characteristic of Bigfoot." The problem, it seems, is that Bigfoot doesn't have a big toe that sticks out to the side.

"The hallux sticking out to the side shows they are nonhuman," said Loren Coleman, a University of Southern Maine professor, about the prints. Hallux, Mr. Coleman said, is the scientific term for big toe. The footprints are much smaller than Bigfoot's, and are more likely an artifact of something he calls a "Nape," or North American Ape. The Nape, also known as a Skunk Ape in parts of the South, is generally not taller than 5 feet, he said. Mr. Coleman is an author on cryptozoology, which he described as "the study of hidden animals that haven't been zoologically classified." Animals such as the mountain gorilla and giant panda took decades to find, he said. The Waynesboro Nape is likely very shy and will also tend to stay away from humans, Mr. Coleman said.

Lloyd Hamberger, borough manager of Waynesboro, said he doesn't believe the prints were made by either Bigfoot or Nape. "Actually, I think they're Klingons," Mr. Hamberger said jokingly. "I'm not a big believer in Area 51, things like that. I think Elvis is dead," he said. But then Mr. Hamberger doubled back: "They're apes all right just a bunch of guys horsing around."

He was clear, however, that if public curiosity gets out of hand, the reservoir, which provides water to more than 17,000 customers, would be closed off.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission had not investigated the tracks as of Tuesday morning, according to dispatcher Steve Heaster. "So far this morning is shaping up," Mr. Heaster said about the calls he had logged. "Bigfoot and birds wearing green plastic granny glasses."

Staff photo by Marny Malin This is a footprint found by Steve and Denny Gates in the Waynesboro reservoir.


Waynesboro "Ape" Prints a Hoax
20 February 2002

Cryptozoologists Loren Coleman of Maine and Mark A. Hall of North Carolina declare the series of tracks found in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, during mid-February 2002, appear almost certainly to be a crude hoax.  Both are longtime researchers of the authentic reports of midwestern and southern swamp ape reports and footprint finds.

Close examination of photographic evidence from researchers who have visited the site reveals a human-made impression in the arch of the several of the tracks.  This artifact appears to be from a sneaker or some manufactured footwear.   Coleman and Hall do not wish to give a recipe to future pranksters, but they note that the tracks appear to reveal a type of glove or fixture made rigid and placed on the front of worn footwear.  The "toes" thus have left "claw marks" and an "ape configuration" merely as an unforeseen outcome of the design of the prankster or pranksters.  Various internal diagnostic features demonstrate the basis of the prints are from the track of a manmade shoe with a structure added.
Loren Coleman

Mark A. Hall


Waynesboro (PA) Times-Record
Waynesboro, Pennsylvania
20 February 2002

Patrols hiked at reservoir, but not to look for Bigfoot Littering on the rise at borough facility

By DON AINES Staff writer

WAYNESBORO -- Patrols by law enforcement and borough personnel are being increased at the Waynesboro Reservoir -- not to search for Bigfoot, but for litterbugs. "My main concern up there is the influx of people at the reservoir," S. Leiter Pryor, the director of borough utilities, said this morning. "We've already noticed an increase in trash."

Late last week, Steve and Denny Gates of Waynesboro were at the reservoir when they discovered large, unusually shaped footprints in the mud along its north end. That sparked interest from cryptozoologists and paranormal investigators, as well as local residents. As the sun was setting Tuesday afternoon, there were about two dozen people in the area where the tracks were found.

Pryor said Pennsylvania State Police and Department of Conservation and Natural Resources will be increasing their patrols of the reservoir off Old Forge Road in Quincy Township. "Our personnel are doing increased monitoring at the dam, as well," he said. The worry is that the reservoir, already low because of the drought, could be contaminated by the increased number of curiosity seekers, according to Pryor.

Paul Scott, the brother-in-law of Steve Gates, said Monday that the tracks had largely been obliterated by foot traffic since they were discovered. There were originally several hundred prints, some more distinct than others, that stretched 1,000 feet or more in the area where the creek empties into the reservoir.

Three members of the Bigfoot Field Research Organization were at the reservoir Sunday to take videos and make plaster casts. Other researchers contacted about the discovery also said they planned to make the trip to the site.

The news of the tracks came as a surprise to many, including Borough Manager Lloyd Hamberger. "Are you kidding?" he asked when called about the report Monday. "I was unaware Bigfoot was indigenous to Pennsylvania," he added.

Photo: Duane Hahn, J.R. Stine and Bobbi Jo Blizzard were among the people who visited the Waynesboro Reservoir late Tuesday afternoon to look for Bigfoot tracks.


Wireless Flash Weird News : February 21, 2002

Pennsylvania Bigfoot Prints Really A Big Prank?

WAYNESBORO, Pa. (Wireless Flash) -- A man in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, claims he's discovered some Bigfoot tracks -- but cryptozoologists fear it's a big hoax.

Steve Gates recently discovered 300 animal footprints near a local reservoir, each about 15 inches long and eight inches wide. No one knows what made the footprints, but the mysterious creature has round heels and five claw-like appendages, so some of Gates' friends believe they're Bigfoot tracks. The 28-year-old Gates doesn't know what the creature is but some experts think the prints belong to a North American Ape.

However, cryptozoologist Loren Coleman says the footprints are "almost certainly" a hoax and the tracks appear to made by sticking gloves onto the front of shoes.
Clarifications via


Waynesboro, Pennsylvania
Waynesboro Record Herald
Thursday, 21 February 2002

Bigfoot: Big gag
Scientist says prints are fake

By DON AINES Staff writer

WAYNESBORO -- As you read this story, a prankster is probably laughing his head off.

The large, unusually shaped footprints found in the muddy flats around the Waynesboro Reservoir "appear almost certainly to be a crude hoax." At least that's the conclusion of one of the cryptozoologists who examined photos and other evidence collected at the scene. "We can't definitely identify the brand of sneaker, but the logo is there," said Loren Coleman of Portland, Maine. "You're getting a repeated human-made imprint in the middle of the arch," he explained Wednesday in a telephone interview. "I was given some confidential material to review," said Coleman, the author of "The Field Guide to Bigfoot, Yeti, and Other Mystery Primates Worldwide." That material includes photographs taken by researchers who visited the site at the north end of the reservoir in Quincy Township. Coleman and Mark A. Hall, another cryptozoologist from North Carolina, reviewed the evidence, which included photos other than those taken by The Record Herald on Saturday, Coleman said. While he and Hall "do not wish to give a recipe to future pranksters...the tracks appear to reveal a type of glove or fixture made rigid and placed on the front of worn footwear," Coleman said. "Thus, the "toes' have left "claw marks' and an "ape configuration' merely as an unforeseen outcome of the design of the prankster or pranksters," Coleman and Hall wrote in an e-mail. Coleman said by telephone the prints may also have been made by the footwear of a something like a Halloween monster costume.

The initial reports of footprints piqued Coleman's interest because of what appeared to be a big toe extending away from the foot, much as it would in the prehensile foot of an ape. During his 40 years of investigation, Coleman said he has been particularly interested in reports of "Napes," his term for North American apes. Such creatures, if they exist, would be more like a chimpanzee than the huge Bigfoot or Sasquatch of popular legend.

 "If it's a hoax...we swallowed it hook, line and sinker," said Paul Scott, the brother-in-law of Steve Gates. It was Gates and his brother Denny who found the prints near where the creek empties into the reservoir. "It's about to the point where I want somebody to prove to me how they did it," said Scott. "I've been putting in (computer) searches for ape costumes....anything you can think of" to try and find something that could have been used to create the prints. Scott said he also saw lines in some of the tracks. "I don't think it's treads, but I can't tell you what they are," he said. As far as he is concerned, the jury is still out as to whether the tracks are real or a trick. It was the Gates brothers and Scott who took researchers from the Bigfoot Field Research Organization (BFRO) to the reservoir Sunday to take videos and make plaster casts of the prints, which extended several hundred yards.

Ron B., a researcher from BFRO, could not be reached today for comment on Coleman's theory on how the tracks were formed. Ron B. said most BFRO members do not use last names because of the problems it could cause them at their jobs and in their communities.

Scott said finding the tracks has affected his life, but not in a positive way. He said he spent "12 to 16 hours" on the phone Monday and Tuesday, fielding calls from as far away as San Diego, Calif. A newspaper in Maryland printed a story about the footprints "without even talking to me, Steve or Denny."  "If it's a hoax, we want to apologize to everybody," Scott said. He also has been warned about a "cyberstalker" who harasses people who have had such experiences, be they paranormal or hoaxes.

Coleman warned The Record Herald about the same individual. Coleman hopes revealing the hoax will bring the perpetrators to light. "We thought if they knew we cryptozoologists weren't fooled, maybe the people that did the prank will come forward," he said.

However temporary, the story may have had some benefits for the community. Many people, unaware of the existence of Waynesboro, no doubt learned of it for the first time, and one local restaurant joined the fun by putting a "Bigfoot Burger" on the menu Tuesday.

Scott is sorry the story created such a stir, including an influx of people -- and trash -- at the reservoir. The borough increased monitoring of its water source over concerns about possible contamination of the drought-depleted reservoir by curiosity seekers. "I wish we'd just smeared up those tracks and never told anybody," Scott said.

The Record Herald invites the person or people responsible to come forward for an interview with proof of how they made the footprints.

Frederick, MD
Frederick News-Post
February 22, 2002

Big tracks just big joke, expert says
By Frank J. Giovinazzi
News-Post Staff

WAYNESBORO, Pa. The mysterious footprints found in the mud of a reservoir here last week are a hoax, not the trail of an East Coast version of Bigfoot.

That's the conclusion of Loren Coleman, a cryptozoology researcher who examined photos of some of the 300 to 400 prints discovered Feb. 14. The prints approximately 13 inches long and 6 inches wide at the toes run along both sides of a creek in the nearly dry Waynesboro reservoir. Mr. Coleman said the photos reveal a repeating pattern in the arch of the footprints that look like the "patterns you see on the bottoms of some sneakers." He said he had not identified the specific brand of sneaker as of Thursday.

Mr. Coleman, a University of Southern Maine professor who lectures on the study of hidden animals, is the author of the book, The Field Guide to Bigfoot, Yeti, and Other Mystery Primates Worldwide. He said the footprints were almost certainly a crude hoax, not the marks of a big, unknown animal haunting the countryside around Waynesboro. But "if somebody runs into one in the next couple of days, I'll be willing to say I'm wrong." Mr. Coleman said the footprints were probably made by someone wearing "Halloween costume feet" over sneakers, or a device built around the footwear and designed to leave oversized tracks.

Benjamin Radford, managing editor of Skeptical Inquirer magazine, agreed with Mr. Coleman's assessment. "If Loren Coleman says they're fakes and he's inclined to believe in them then I have to agree with him," he said. Mr. Radford, who wrote two articles on Bigfoot for the March/April issue of his magazine, said the 50-year-old phenomenon has always been rife with hoaxes. Skeptical Inquirer attempts to separate "fact from myth in the flood of occultism and pseudoscience on the scene today," according to the magazine's Web site. "It's a self-perpetuating myth," he said of Bigfoot. "There are no standards no tracks have ever been proven to be made by a Bigfoot." But he does know the truth about one Bigfoot photo that turned up recently on the cover of his own magazine, to illustrate his stories. "It's me, in an ape suit," Mr. Radford. "I was hoping I didn't get shot by some farmer." He said the photo shoot had not produced any bogus Bigfoot sightings. "That would have been delicious." However, Mr. Radford also said: "I bet you money it'll appear on the Web in a couple of months as an actual Bigfoot photo."


Since Feb. 2002:Hit Counter