Sunday, March 24, 2013

A Time Like No Other: South Weber, Feb. 3-4, 1980 -- And More

        The southern hillside of South Weber, just below the canal. All this was open area, back in 1980.

By Lynn Arave

Feb. 3-4, 1980 in South Weber, Utah was a time  like no other in the Beehive State. 
There were multiple sightings of Bigfoot reported. The city was a buzz with chatter. Sightings would continue through the first part of that month.
First, Pauline Markham said she spotted a big, black creature in broad daylight -- about 2:30 p.m. on Feb. 3, coming down the ridge and toward the Davis-Weber Canal.
Then, later that night, about 12:20 a.m., on Feb. 4, Ronald Smith had just gotten home from work and went out in the yard to feed his horse.
The animal would not come to the fence to feed and was acting strange. Then, Smith heard something in the field. It was a moonlit night and saw what he first through was some teenager trying to his property.
But it screamed four times,like a cougar, but much louder, and he then realized not only that the figure was much larger than an person, but that he needed to get in the house.
The next day, Smith found large barefoot tracks -- some of them 6 feet apart -- in his field, though his horse had trampled through most of them.
Other strange footprints were found all over the year in the coming days.
Sadly, the media reports on the sightings didn't appear until more than a week after they occurred. Also, the reporter who covered the sightings, apparently days afterward, admitted he was a skeptic, yet he had never seen footprints like what he saw.  (1)
Edna Arave of South Weber said she didn't see anything that night, but she did hear those weird screams.
She described them as unlike anything she'd heard before and cries that chilled you down to the bone. (2)
Her report was typical of many residents -- not wanting to talk about what they saw or heard, unless prodded.
So, it is certain that many sightings, or experiences were never reported, for fear of ridicule.
It was almost three weeks later, on Feb. 24, 1980, that a motorist on Riverdale Road, Lee Padilla, of Clearfield, who claimed he saw Bigfoot run across the road at 3:30 a.m.
"It had long legs, a head like a gorilla with long, dark brown furry hair that was in layers," Padilla said.
He estimated the creature to be 10 or more feet tall and that it had no fear, or concern of his approaching vehicle. (3)
The Riverdale sighting set off a firestorm of fear about the creature.
"Armed 'Bigfoot' hunters not wanted in Riverdale," was a headline in the Ogden Standard Examiner on March 1, 1980. The Riverdale Police Chief, Michael Daily, was tired to reports of armed men cursing the city looking for the creature.
"We've been getting calls like you wouldn't believe," Chief Daily said.
In one incident, an armed resident searching for the beast turned out to be a boy with a BB gun -- though the kid was looking for Bigfoot.
Another Standard Examiner headline read, "Men Claim Bigfoot hair found," (Feb.14, 1980.)
That article included a Mountain Green resident reporting an awful odor one night in February -- not a skunk, but something different.
The article also reported that a South Weber woman, Mrs. Walter G. Ray, also said a pot of stew she put outside to cool on the night of Feb. 13, 1980 was hauled 100 yards away and licked clean.
The Rays also found weird, bear-like tracks around their yard and that their dogs had been acting strange that night.
In other weeks of February and March of 1980, some kids claimed they saw a bigfoot out by the Ogden River and 12th Street and other young persons had sightings near Cold Water Canyon in the North Ogden area. (4)
These incidents all put northern Utah on the Bigfoot map.
-Despite all these sightings, some South Weber residents of the early 1980s, like Darrin Cuttler, believe it was probably a bear who ran through the town and are not convinced it was a Bigfoot, if that even exists. (5)
(1) "Did Bigfoot visit small Davis town? Citizens buzz," Ogden Standard Examiner, by John Harrington, Feb. 12, 1980.
(2) From a personal conversation with Edna Arave, aunt of the author of this blog.
(3) 'Bigfoot' sighted now in Riverdale," Ogden Standard Examiner, by Bert Strand, Feb. 27, 1980.
(4-5) From reports collected by Ryan Layton, of Layton.

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