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COUNTY: Marion County
LOCATION DETAILS: Take the Little North Fork Rd towards the Cedar Creek Camp ground. Just prior to the camp ground is a fork to the left that will take you towards the Pearl Creek Guard Station. Past this point the road goes towards the old mining town of Jaw Bone Flats. The road eventually comes to a bridge tha tis locked. Just before this bridge is an area where the road is widened and makes a sharp turn around a large rock out cropping. This is where the incident occured.
NEAREST TOWN: Gates, Oregon
NEAREST ROAD: Little North Fork Rd., on the Pearl Crk Guard Station fork
OBSERVED: I was a Deputy Sheriff for Marion County from 1970 to 1982. In about 1977, I was dispatched to a reported shooting incident on the Little North Fork Rd., East of Salem and northwest of Gates. The incident involved four young men who were college geology students, camping near the old mining town of Jawbone Flats doing some college work. They were at their camp around 10:00 at night when they heard a howling noise coming from the canyon below their camp site. They later heard the sound of a large animal coming up out of the canyon towards the road near their campsite. They had dogs with them that became scared and hid in the tent. One of the men got a rifle out of the tent and they all went onto the road to try and see what the animal was. When the animal got onto the road, they could not see it clearly as the area was only lit by the light of the moon and the camp fire but they could see the basic outline of the animal. They described it as being huge, maybe eight feet tall and standing on two legs. The animal started coming towards them which, of course, scared them and the young man with the gun fired at it several times. The animal stopped and then crossed the road and continued up the canyon on the other side of the road making a lot of noise as it crashed through the brush.
I could not see much during the night so returned the next day to examine the area in day light. I found where the animal had walked up out of the canyon and saw several areas where it had stepped in the unconsolidated rocky hill side of rock and shale and made impressions but none sufficient to identify any characteristic. Several trees of two to three inch diameter were pushed over in the direction the animal travelled, up hill. The distance between the foot steps was at least four feet and that was on a steep uphill walk.
I did not find any evidence of the animal being hurt by the gun shots as there was no blood or fur found. I tracked the animal up hill for several hundred yards and then lost the trail in a rocky area.
I made a report of this incident and it should be on file.
It should be noted that these young men were intelligent college students on a study project and when I interviewed them, were extremely scared by the incident and from my experience, I feel they were telling the truth. There was no other motive I could determine why they would make up this story and then call the police. This incident was never made public.
OTHER WITNESSES: Four young males camping.
OTHER STORIES: Yes, I was a resident Deputy for Marion County and had built a home near Lumpkers bridge about six miles from Hwy 22 on the Little North Fork Rd. For years I have heard a howling noise at night that I have never been able to identify. At first I thought it may have been a bull elk bellowing but since then have determined that it is not. I don't know what the animal was that has made the noise.
Also, in 1970, I was involved in a search for a lost fisherman near Estacada, Oregon and during that search, I and a team of searchers found a set of foot prints that we could not identify other than it was human like and was about sixteen inches long.
TIME AND CONDITIONS: About 10:00 P.M. Moon lit and camp fire lit.
ENVIRONMENT: The area is an old access road in a heavily forested area of the Cedar Creek Canyon fork of the Little North Fork of the Santiam River. The terrain is steep.
Follow-up investigation report by BFRO Investigator Dr. Wolf H. Fahrenbach:
The very cooperative witness helped substantially to define the location where the incident occurred. He examined the footprints below, on and above the road but could find none that were definitive in their appearance. However, the step length of the track effectively ruled out a human origin. He was impressed by how extremely scared the students were after the event. The location is about a mile and a half east of Henline Mt. The reports of law enforcement personnel, as in this case, have a most laudable precision and completeness about them.