The history of Bigfoot in Arkansas

Inside Monster Mart in Fouke, Arkansas.
Inside Monster Mart in Fouke, Arkansas.

Arkansas has interesting ties to the history of Bigfoot. The small town of Fouke is even the Bigfoot Capital of Arkansas.

Lyle Blackburn knows much about this history. He is the narrator and producer of the documentary film Boggy Creek Monster and author of many books including The Beast of Boggy Creek.

Blackburn shares his insight into this interesting history in the interview below. 

You recently gave a presentation at the Arkansas Museum of Natural Resources  about the history of Bigfoot in Arkansas. In your opinion, what is the most misunderstood aspect about this history?

Blackburn: In general, most people associate Bigfoot with the Pacific Northwest.  However, there is a long history of sightings of Bigfoot-like creatures all across the United States with a considerable concentration of them in Arkansas and the surrounding states.

When did the history of Bigfoot start in Arkansas?  In your opinion, what event(s) marks the most important segment of this history?

Blackburn: Newspapers published in the 1800s had stories about encounters with “wildmen.”  These alleged wildmen are described much like Bigfoot, 6-7 feet tall, covered in hair, walking upright on two legs, and often leaving large, human-like footprints.

  • 1851 – Arkansas Gazette: Two hunters near Greene County were startled by a large, hair-covered animal as it was trying to catch a calf.
  • 1856 – Caddo Gazette: Men were pursuing a hairy “wild man” on horseback when it attacked them.
  • 1865 – Ozark Country book: Otto Rayburn recounted the story of a “giant wild man" captured in the Ouachita mountains near Saline County.

Are Bigfoot and the Fouke Monster the same thing?

Blackburn: The Fouke Monster is generally described as a 7-foot tall, hair covered, ape-like creature, which is essentially a “Bigfoot.”  The term “Bigfoot” wasn’t really known around the South at the time sightings were first published in 1971, so a journalist at the Texarkana Gazette called it the “Fouke Monster.”  Without an actual specimen, it's impossible to know if this creature differs from a traditional Bigfoot, but essentially the Fouke Monster is a "Southern Bigfoot."

In your opinion, why is Arkansas a hot spot for sightings of Bigfoot and the Fouke Monster?

Blackburn: Arkansas has the perfect ecology for hiding such creatures… thick forests, mountainous areas, swampy undeveloped bottomlands, rivers, creeks, etc.  The famous movie, The Legend of Boggy Creek (1972), has also contributed to the worldwide attention on Arkansas in terms of regional Bigfoot.

Is there anything else you might like to add that we didn't ask?

Blackburn: The Fouke Monster, and the town itself, remain very popular among Bigfoot enthusiasts due to The Legend of Boggy Creek along with modern-day television coverage, my books, etc.  People come from all around the globe to visit Fouke and/or attend the various Fouke Monster festivals and events.  It is surely Arkansas’ most celebrated legend, and one that might actually be real given the numerous eyewitness accounts that are still being reported today.