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DATE: June 1976
COUNTY: Umatilla County
LOCATION DETAILS: Umatilla reservation. I-84 out of Pendleton to the top of Emigrant Pass about 8 miles from the summit facing southwest into a canyon on the south side of Emigrant Springs.
The area is the top of Emigrant Hill along old hiway US 30 known as the Old Oregon Trail close to the Umatilla Indian Reservation boundary in the Blue Mountains between Pendleton and LaGrande OR
NEAREST TOWN: Approximately half way between Pendleton an La Grande OR
NEAREST ROAD: Old Oregon Trail -- Off Old US30
OBSERVED: My mother (T.G.) and my aunt and my two uncles were driving over Emigrant Pass by Pendleton OR when they decided to stop and stretch their legs. When they got out one of my uncles who is blind had smelled a very unusual smell very foul. He notified my mom, aunt and uncle.
They looked over the cliff into the canyon below. What they saw was what at first they thought was a bear but when it stood up and walked away they knew it was something else.
From what my mom told me it was drinking from a stream with it's hands. It had long brown hair and looked like a bear. but when it got up and started walking it looked like a tall human-grizzly. Since there are no grizzly bear in northeast OR they had no explanation as to what it was. It walked in a simi-crouched position and had to have been at least 7 feet tall. Before it went into the forest it turned all the way around to look up at my mom and everyone else and then whent into the forest.
ALSO NOTICED: A blind man smelled foul odors but nobody else could smell it. Animal was drinking with it's hands.
OTHER WITNESSES: 4 whitness, driving on old US30 south just prior.
TIME AND CONDITIONS: Partly cloudy, calm breeze out of the south, the way they were facing.
ENVIRONMENT: Light pine forest, rocky, mountain area, looking into a canyon at a creek.
Follow-up investigation report:
This investigator was able to speak directly with T.G who is the reporters mother and is a primary observer. T.G. described the sighting like it happened yesterday. She said the creature seemed somewhat smaller and lighter than black bear she had seen.
The group would not have seen the animal squatted beside an upper reach of Squaw Creek (probable named creek) drinking, if it had not moved. The method of drinking with cupped paws (hands) and upright walking is what puzzled the family travelers, along with the keen olfactory sense of their blind brother. They did not know that bear did those kinds of behavior? The incident was agreed to be dismissed for years until recently.
The creature was apparently observed from 500-800 feet over several minutes as it moved out of sight away from the creek into the open pine forest.