Squatchin’ with the daughter: Background files – The Patterson/Gimlin film

If you’ve read any of the first three posts in the Squatchin with the daughter series, you may be wondering just what this “Patterson/Gimlin film” thing is.

Here is a fairly compressed version of the story:

The mid 1960’s were a very active and interesting time for those on the hunt for Bigfoot. One of those hunters was a man from Yakima, Washington named Roger Patterson. Patterson was what would nowadays be called a “Character”. He wasn’t the type of person to work at a “regular” job, but rather a dreamer who was sure that he was always just one invention away from fame and fortune. Early on, Patterson caught Bigfoot Fever, going so far as two write a book, Do Abominable Snowmen of America Really Exist?, which was published in 1966.

By the fall of 1967, Patterson had managed to generate some funding, and was in the Six Rivers national forest area with a couple of horses, a 16mm movie camera, and Yakima cowboy Bob Gimlin.

Patterson and Gimlin were in the woods for the purpose of making a documentary on – what else – Bigfoot.

On the afternoon of October 20th, as the story goes, the filmmakers, on horseback, were riding along Bluff Creek. They rounded a bend, and there, squatting near the water, was a female sasquatch. Patterson’s horse spooked and reared, depositing the filmmaker unceremoniously onto the ground. Gimlin managed to stay on his horse, and withdrew his rifle from its sheath, in case the creature turned on them. Somehow Patterson managed to get his camera pointed at the creature and got this:


In the 45 years since the film was shot, there has been no shortage of controversy. The subject of the film has been called an obvious guy in a suit, and it has also been pronounced as having been impossible to fake given the state of the art of costume technology in 1967. The questions surrounding the nature of the subject have never subsided, although there are some facts about the film that have never been in dispute: The actual film stock was exposed in a camera, and is an accurate representation of what was actually seen through the lens. In other words, there was no in-camera fakery. Any hoaxing occurred “on the set”.

To my mind, regardless of whether the film actually shows a living bigfoot or a human in a suit, the “set” -the film site – is undeniably an important location in the lore and history of sasquatchery, and someplace I really wanted to see.

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