Geographical Index > United States > Arkansas > Miller County > Article # 351
Media Article # 351
Tuesday, December 01, 1998
By Rodney Bowers
Fouke Arkansas - The Fouke monster, a legendary bigfoot look-alike, still stalks the lowlands of Miller County, according to local residents. "There were 40-some sightings last year," said Rickie Roberts, Fouke's unofficial monster spokesman. "There were 22 sightings in one day. ... There's even one guy who swears there's a family [of monsters] who live behind his house."
Roberts, who owns the Monster Mart grocery on U.S. 71, said the latest sighting came July 17 when four people purportedly saw the creature walking along a dry creek bed about 5 miles south of town. Sightings of the Fouke monster have been reported since the 1940s, according to newspaper articles. In all that time, no one has photographed the creature or captured it.
For a time, the only evidence of the creature was a plaster cast of a 13 1/2-inch footprint taken from a local soybean field. The cast was destroyed in a service station fire in the late 1970s, Roberts said. "That was the only real proof you'd have around here" that the monster exists, he said.
Though scores of residents have reported seeing the hairy creature, experts scoff at its existence. Frank Schamback, an archaeologist at Southern Arkansas University at Magnolia who debunked the footprint as a hoax in the 1970s, said he doesn't believe in the Fouke monster. "They like mystery," he said. "It's just that. People like to have a mystery." Residents would have proof by now if the creature existed, Schamback said. "There are people down there with dogs who would have run it down in two days" if it existed, he said.
Toby Giles, Miller County's chief sheriff's deputy, said there haven't been any reported sightings in the past few years, but "we do [have one] every once in a while."
The sheriff's office used to receive a few reported sightings when he joined the department about 14 years ago, Giles said. "But nothing was ever confirmed," Giles said. "It's still a well-talked-about subject."
The town plays up its connection with the monster. Down the road from Monster Mart, a visitor can poke his head through a hole in a metal silhouette and have his photo taken as the monster.
Roberts, who sells monster T-shirts, caps and bumper stickers at his store, said the long-armed creature has been described as 6 to 9 feet tall with red, brown, black or black-gray hair covering its body.
Roberts said he has never seen the animal, which he speculates might be a "swamp ape," and he wouldn't admit it if he had. "I wouldn't say a word," he said. "People'd think you're crazy."
He has heard an eerie howl, possibly from the monster, that almost defies description, Roberts said. "I've heard it twice. It's a sound. I don't know what you would call it," he said. "It'd be a sound like a cross between a cow bellow and a panther screaming."
The monster has never harmed anyone although it may have caused a few heart-pounding frights, Roberts said. "This thing has never attacked anyone," he said.
The Fouke monster brought attention to the town in 1972. Film crews descended on Fouke that year to make the Legend of Boggy Creek and forever put the community on the map.
The town of 614 is listed on the Internet as one of the top 10 places in the world to look for bigfoot, the name associated with creatures similar to the Fouke monster, Roberts said.
"We get people in here every day" looking for the monster, he said. "We had a guy save his money for two years to come down from Indiana this summer."
Roberts' wife, Beverly, said too many credible people have seen what they described as the monster for her not to believe it exists.
"I've got family members who firmly believe they've seen it," she said, noting that they moved away shortly after the experience. "Whatever it is, there is something."
Tracy Nichols and Sue Page, who work at City Hall, said they have heard scores of monster tales over the years. Nichols, noting that the creature is generally associated with "a bad odor," said a local man recently saw the monster twice, "but he won't talk about. He's afraid of being ridiculed."
Although uncertain of her own beliefs, she said, "I've heard credible people come through here who said they've seen it." Nichols admitted that the legend is fun. "We went hunting for it the weekend before last," she said. Page, whose constable father appeared as himself in the Legend of Boggy Creek, said, "I don't know if it's true or not." "We have calls from way off [from people] wanting to know about it," she said. Fouke resident Lavelle Brune said she thought she saw the monster recently.
"We saw it" while driving out of town, she said, but "we got to looking, and it was just a bush."
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