Monster of the Swamp: Bigfoot in SETX?

Port Arthur News 10.31.1984


A few weeks ago, I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts, Extreme Wildlife Radio. (For those who do not know what a podcast is, it’s basically a radio show that you can upload to your iPod or other listening devices.) Extreme Wildlife Radio is a local podcast hosted by journalist, author, and SETX wildlife expert Chester Moore, along with Terri Werner, Director of Operations at the Tiger Creek Wildlife Refuge in Tyler, Texas.

I will start off by saying that I love the content of the show. It is, as its name suggests, about wildlife. Whether it’s big cats, black bears, wolves, or our many species of fowl in SETX, the show does a great job of promoting and presenting historic facts about our wildlife. With that said, I also love the other side of wildlife that comes up from time to time. During the week in question, the topic was “Bigfoot: A Roundtable Discussion.”

Bigfoot? What do I know of this so-called primate that has eluded visual documentation for hundreds of years? Absolutely nothing! As a child growing up in the early 70s, I remember having dreams about this creature visiting and peeking in the window. I had always wondered why I thought this—until I came across another podcast talking about the Boggy Creek Monster. I found out the movie had been released around 1974. This would fit the timeframe of my childhood puzzle, and I have a sneaking suspicion that one of my older siblings (whom I shall blame only for convenience) saw the movie, and I had overheard her description of this frightful documentary. Other than this scenario, I have never really been interested in this thing called Sasquatch, Bigfoot, or Yeti.

Well, there was that TV episode of The Million Dollar Man that . . . On second thought, let’s skip that. Oak Bluff 1

Last year, one of our SETX residents was visiting Oak Bluff Cemetery in Port Neches. He claimed to have seen, and also photographed, two “primates,” which he called Bigfoots. Unfortunately, as always, the photos are blurry, and nothing in them is distinguishable. I frequent this part of Oak Bluff Cemetery, and I also have photos. Many clear photos, in fact, of the same area where our primate friends supposedly spent an afternoon skipping rocks. Honestly, I have never seen anything other than a beautiful sunset in this bayou, but to each his own.

Sabine LighthouseSo, is there an actual documented historical record of something in our area that fits the description of a hairy man who walks, undetected for the most part, through SETX swamps—besides possibly Boudreaux or Thibodeaux? Well no, not that I believe, at least in these times, but there is an article in the Port Arthur News dated October, 31, 1984, by staff writer Peggy Slasman. Slasman had interviewed a Port Arthur resident whose father was the Sabine lighthouse keeper in 1905.

The story began as the fog rolled over the marsh, and the lighthouse keeper’s 10-year-old daughter stepped out on the porch to enjoy her favorite time of day. Unfortunately, this morning was different. The silence of the early morning was broken by movement in the marsh. She peered out over the railings, wondering what could be lurking near, when suddenly, she saw something so terrible that she screamed and fainted.

Her parents later found and revived the child. Both dismissed their daughter’s story as a figment of her wild imagination, but they couldn’t help but notice her obsession with her tale.

A month later, the lighthouse keeper was hunting in the marsh when he heard movement in the reeds. He crouched down and stared in the direction of the sound. To his dismay, there stood an eight-foot hairy, dark, and ugly “thing” that scared the lighthouse keeper so much that he ran away toward the safety of the lighthouse, forgetting his loaded rifle in his haste.

The monster was seen by others 12 times that year, but it never harmed anyone. Most Sabine residents believed it to be a bear, and that is indeed quite possible, but one can only speculate. That same year, a storm flooded the marsh, and the beast was supposedly drowned or washed out to sea. However, according to Slasman’s article, there are those who say it still lurks in the marsh . . .

So, do I believe there is a hairy primate living amongst us here in Jefferson or the lower portion of Orange County? Probably not, but you never know what lurks in places like the Big Thicket. There are many different species of animals living undisturbed in our dark forests, so it may be quite possible. With that said, I will take this opportunity to reach out to the other amateur paranormal, cryptozoologist ghost hunters out there and recommend that they take photography classes. Blurry is bad!