The Lookout Mountain Bigfoot - A Historic Encounter with the Georgia Bigfoot
Updated: Feb 3
Chattanooga is a flourishing city on the border between Tenessee and Georgia. Visit as a tourist, and you can expect a tantalizing mixture of architecture, the famous Tenessee Valley Railroad Museum, and the Tenessee River, which meanders through the city, cleaving it in two.
As charming as the city and the resident, Chattanoogans are, one may be drawn out of the city, towards the wild, dense forest, and the peak of Lookout mountain, that draws a traveler closer.
But wander into that place, and you may find you are not alone. It is said that something stalks the area around Lookout mountain. Georgia’s own bigfoot. The Bigfoot of Lookout Mountain is not a new phenomenon however, and there is one particularly noteworthy encounter.
It’s February 22nd 1889. President Grover Cleveland has signed a declaration confirming that the Dakotas, Montana, and Washington State will join the union.
On a trail around Georgia’s Lookout Mountain, a prospector is inspecting, searching for minerals. Some 26 years earlier, the path he walked had been a battlefield in the American Civil War, when Union forces were able to overcome the Confederates amongst a thick, impenetrable fog. He may well have seen evidence of the so-called ‘Battle Above the Clouds’ as he inspected the steep faces of the mountain.
Climbing further up the trail of the mountain, the man heard a scream from the path he had just overcome. Interest piqued, the man maneuvered to a better vantage point to see the source of the sound, which itself was continuing.
Peering out over the edge of the mountain, the man’s eyes locked on to a wildman staring back at him. Taken aback, the man gathered himself, and take some time to examine the wildman, which was a mere 100 yards away from him, shaking a fist aggressively.
What struck him immediately was the scale of the wildman. He stood over 7ft tall and appeared to be over 400 pounds. He was entirely covered in brown, bear like hair, and seemed to display his teeth at him. It was then that he saw that the creature held in his hand a large pole, which he estimated to be 10ft long, and was held with apparent ease.
Gathering himself, the man was able to mutter out a simple sentence towards the wildman. “What is your name?” The wildman declined to answer, instead hurling a rock towards the man, which was estimated to be 100 pounds in weight.
With that the man, terrified, retreated at full speed. He ran until he reached a store, where, exasperated, he recounted his tale to the store owner, and later to a reporter from the Jackson Herald, where the story is immortalised to this day.
Analysing the story
When approaching a story such as this, it is important to try to look at a variety of factors to help determine what we can learn from it, and what quantity of salt we should take.
The Media View
Firstly, let’s look at it from a media perspective. Newspapers have been, and continue to be, rather sensationalist. It’s why it’s very likely that you will see a ghost story splashing on the cover of a tabloid paper, alongside a political scandal, and the latest get-fit-quick diet. Those kinds of stories shift papers because they are exciting, even if a reader doesn’t believe the subject matter. Back in 1889, the bigfoot story could be seen as a similar paper-shifting, headline-grabbing article, even without putting forward any view on the authenticity of the piece itself.In order to determine such, there are a few things that aren’t properly explained within the story.
Number one: Why didn’t the witness allow his name to be used?
There are some very logical reasons why the witness would have opted to remain anonymous. Principally, this is the potential stigma that comes with encountering a disputed creature. To this day, sasquatch witnesses are- unfairly- often treated as whackos who are either making it up for their 5 minutes on TV, or misidentified a known animal because they couldn’t understand what it was. Both of these stigmas remain a huge hurdle to overcome in order to determine what bigfoot actually is, and whether it actually exists. I accept that this is a perfectly valid reason for not providing a name with the article, though it does cause issues with verifying the story.
Number two: What was the wildman holding at any given time?
When I first encountered this story, I was struck by how much the creature used its hands. The man first describes the wildman as shaking a fist at him. Next, the creature is holding a 10ft stick in a second hand. Both of these, given the apparent strength of the creature, should be possible - shaking a fist with one hand, holding the stick in the other. When the creature picks up the large rock though, we encounter an issue. The creature may be able to pick up a large rock with both hands, but we are given no measure of time or movement between these two phases. Did the creature pick up the rock one-handed after stopping and shaking it’s fist, or did it drop the stick and pick up the rock with both hands. It’s not so much a story unraveling, ‘gotcha’ moment, and rather is more of a ‘wish there was more detail’ moment.
Number three: how consistent are the sizes in the story?
It is difficult to determine how accurate the sizes were in relation to the story. With no real frame of reference, we are left with four key measurements. A 7ft creature that weighs 400lbs. A 10ft pole, and a 100lbs rock. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to draw any conclusions to this without either an exact recreation of the scene, or the understanding of the physical capabilities of a sasquatch. Since neither seems possible for the foreseeable future, there seems to be little we can draw from this.
The Bigfoot View
If we take the story at face value, we are able to cross-reference to more recent and intact bigfoot reports, alongside our understanding of other great apes.
The first thing that struck me was how the eyewitness made reference to seeing the creature’s teeth. The article makes no outright mention that the creature actively bared its teeth at the eyewitness, but I feel that this is a fairly comfortable conclusion to draw. In this case, the fact that the teeth are mentioned in the story at all owes entirely to them being shown enough to be noteworthy. We know from chimps and gorillas that primates show their teeth to intimidate a potential attacker, which is exactly how the eyewitness would appear to the creature.
Secondly, the pole the creature is holding. Regardless of the size, stick usage is commonly associated with sasquatch. From wood knocking to structure building, bigfoots seem at home using downed trees to their advantage. Equally, stone-throwing is another behavior commonly associated with bigfoot and great apes. Whilst the rock in this story is much larger than what one typically hears in a sasquatch story, it’s certainly interesting to see this behaviour in such an early newspaper.
Lookout Mountain as a Modern Bigfoot Habitat
Lookout Mountain continues to be associated with bigfoot, even over 100 years later. The BFRO remains amongst the best places to uncover the squatchiness of an area. Lookout mountain has two registered accounts on the website, one from as recently as 2012, in Gadsden, Alabama.
The Chattanooga times even reported that in the immediate area there had been 12 sightings since 1974. It’s possible that there are many more sightings that are reported in different avenues, but it certainly does appear that something bigfoot or not is happening around the Lookout mountain area even in the present day.
Lookout Mountain seems to be a potentially interesting area for further research into the bigfoot phenomenon. The historical account is relevant, but not conclusive by any stretch of the imagination. Whilst we can see a lot of things in the apparent behaviour of the creature which we attribute to modern bigfoot sightings, the nature of the press makes taking everything at face value much more difficult than anyone would like.
This story was found in the Jackson Herald, reporting a story from the Lafayette Messenger, published on February 22nd 1889.
What do you make of the story? What do you think it says about bigfoot behaviour, or the historical reporting of bigfoot cases?
I’d love to hear from you!