Lair of the Beasts: The Creature of the Lake (Mania.com)
Date: Saturday, November 03, 2012
There can be very few – if, indeed, any - cities, towns and villages in the world that do not have at least one ghostly legend attached to them. But, just occasionally, a locale can boast of not just one resident spirit, but a veritable army of the walking and wailing dead.
One of those places is the old town of Jefferson, Texas. Located on the Lone Star State’s Big Cypress Bayou – large wetlands on the western side of Caddo Lake – Jefferson has a reputation of being one of the most haunted towns in all of Texas.
But, as well as being home to a multitude of restless spirits, Jefferson and nearby Caddo Lake are also the domains of Bigfoot.
Back in early September 1965, the local media highlighted the story of a hairy man-beast on the loose in and around Jefferson. It was on August 20 of that year that thirteen year old Johnny Maples was walking home from a friend’s house, and it was a normal day; for a while, at least.
Johnny was on FM 1784, between Prospect and Lodi, when he heard noises emanating from the adjacent bushes. He called out twice, thinking that perhaps it was someone he knew from the area pulling a prank.
When there was no reply, however, Johnny became naturally concerned, and picked up a couple of rocks and hurled them into the brush.
So the story went, at that point a frightful, fiendish thing came storming out of the foliage and Johnny found himself face to face with nothing less than a full-blown Bigfoot. According to the tale of the terrified boy, which was investigated by Marion County Deputy Sheriff, George Whatley, the creature was around seven feet in height, and covered in dark hair, aside from on its face, the palms of its hands, and its stomach.
And although no evidence for the existence of the creature was ever found, it was clear to the investigating officers that the boy in question had been deeply traumatized by the presence of something. Maybe that something is still there.
Late one evening in March 2009, a truck-driver named Mark Duke was driving on the outskirts of Jefferson, heading for his final destination, which was just over the border in Louisiana, when he caught a brief glimpse of a large, hair-covered animal amble across the road in an almost comical, casual fashion.
Likening the creature to a big ape crossed with a lumbering bear, Duke said that at the time of its appearance, he was turning on a tight bend, and as a result, his speed was very slow – which, he said, gave him the ideal opportunity to see the beast very clearly. In his mind, there was no doubt: Jefferson is the haunt of Bigfoot.
And then there is the aforementioned Caddo Lake, upon the Big Cypress Bayou of which Jefferson is situated.
Caddo Lake is the largest natural freshwater lake in all of the south, and covering approximately 26,800 acres. Originally home to the Caddo Indians, a friendly and peaceful tribe that hunted, fished, and made pottery, the lake’s murky depths and incredibly dense black cypress trees today help to create a truly spooky atmosphere within which Bigfoot is said to firmly thrive.
Make no mistake: encounters with North America’s most famous man-beast abound at Caddo Lake. Locally, it is known as the Caddo Critter. And it’s worth noting that such is its infamy, it has also made its presence felt in the world of on-screen fiction – specifically in a 1976 monster-movie starring Jack Elam titled The Creature from Black Lake, about a violent, killer-Bigfoot.
In both fact and fiction, the whole area is an absolute monster-fest! Nick Redfern is the author of many books, including There’s something in the Woods, Memoirs of a Monster Hunter, and, with Ken Gerhard, Monsters of Texas.