According to New York Fortean investigator, Bruce G. Hallenbeck, encounters with creatures resembling what is commonly known in the U.S. as Bigfoot or Sasquatch (a Halkomelem native term), have been reported in the state since pre-Columbian times. The Miqmac Algonquin people called them 'gouge,' big hairy men. Hallenbeck's book, Monsters of New York: Mysterious Creatures in the Empire State, not only provides a basic history of the earliest Bigfoot sightings, but an annotated timeline of the most notable encounters up to present.
More recently, Hudson Valley Magazine reported on a number of local encounters hailing from Bear Mountain and Pawling all the way to the Adirondacks, many from relatively populated areas such as around Rhinebeck and even right outside of Poughkeepsie.
The most current sightings seem to be centering in northern Dutchess and southern Columbia counties and are being monitored by Gayle Beatty, a Hudson Valley native. Beatty, who is a life long outdoor enthusiast, fisherman and camper, and who knows these forests well, has been fascinated with Bigfoot since her own uncanny encounter, as a teenager, with something on Stissing Mountain.
As Gayle tells it:
What inspired you to go in search of Bigfoot?
It all began for me one evening many years ago while camping on Stissing Mountain. We own a house on the base of Little Stissing overlooking Twin Island Lake. I was about 15 years old at the time and an avid outdoors woman. I loved fishing, hunting and tracking and spent countless hours in the woods. I set up my camp around dusk and was just relaxing in my tent.
It started to get dark so I decided to turn in for the night. It was very quiet and peaceful and I dozed off, when all of a sudden I heard an Owl! It sounded as if it was right in the tree next to my camp and it startled me. A few minutes later it happened: the loudest howl/growl/scream I had ever heard in my life! I was frozen with fear and started shaking,not knowing what kind of animal could have made this God Awful sound.
I sat there for awhile trying to compose myself and thinking I was in danger of being killed by whatever this thing was. Finally, I got up enough nerve to bolt down the trail and into the house. I was as white as a sheet and shaking like a leaf. My parents asked what was wrong, I told them that there was something up on the mountain and it was after me. At that time we had never heard of Bigfoot.
Many years went by and I continued to camp and hunt and enjoy the outdoors, occasionally thinking of this experience. It wasn't until 2011 when the show Finding Bigfoot caught my interest. I saw a few episodes and decided to go onto the BFRO (Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization) website and Google Bigfoot sightings in Dutchess County. There it was! A large black Bigfoot had been seen crossing the road by two women on Lake Road in Pine Plains! That is where our home is! That sparked my interest.
From that day forward my life had changed. I started doing field research behind our house and interviewing local residents about their encounters. I also started to read everything I could get my hands on about the subject. It surprised me that there had been so many people that had similar experiences, either with vocalizations, which is considered a class B encounter or a visual which a class A. I started my group in January of 2012 called Bigfoot Researchers of the Hudson Valley. Since then I have found much evidence of a breeding population of Sasquatch here in the Hudson Valley.
From her home operated local business, Hook Line & Sinker Bait Shop, Beatty serves her customers and organizes onsite investigations of the latest Bigfoot reports that come her way. She periodically releases new information through public meetings held most frequently at The Enchanted Cafe coffee shop, in Red Hook, NY.
On Thursday, May 8th at 7 pm, Author Bruce Hallenbeck will be speaking at the Tivoli Library. And, on May 15, Gayle and Bruce will be presenting the latest evidence of local Bigfoot encounters at The Enchanted Cafe, 6:30pm.
In Part 2, Gayle will be sharing highlights of her research experiences.