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.
Footprints: Prankster or monster?
By Frank J. Giovinazzi
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
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 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.
15-inch long footprint was one of hundreds discovered last week along the
northern edge of the Waynesboro Reservoir.
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
and Denny Gates with one of the many footprints they discovered Thursday.
Wednesday, February 20, 2002
of odd footprints in reservoir a mystery
By Frank J. Giovinazzi
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, www.bfro.net, 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
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.
Mark A. Hall
20 February 2002
Patrols hiked at reservoir, but not to look for Bigfoot Littering on the rise at
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
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,"
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
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 http://www.lorencoleman.com
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
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.
February 22, 2002
Big tracks just big joke, expert says
By Frank J. Giovinazzi
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: