Monday, March 1, 2010

Interview with AL HODGSON, Pillar of Willow Creek and Bigfooting History, PART THREE



This being the third part (of three) of the interview, the reader should really read PART ONE HERE and PART TWO HERE first. If you don’t, you’re really missing out! Permanent links to these blog entries will be found on the right hand column of this site.

This interview was conducted with Albert Eugene Hodgson in his Willow Creek home, just around the corner from the Bigfoot Books shop, by Steven Streufert, with assistance from “C.I.,” who wishes to remain anonymous. Bigfoot activity, other than Al's involvement, has been reported in this hillside, forested neighborhood.

Almost by accident, and initially a skeptic, Al Hodgson became one of the most important figures in the history of Bigfoot research. It was his phone call to Roger Patterson that led to the Patterson-Gimlin Bigfoot film. He was also the first person they called after filming the creature. His connections to the community, and his position as a public figure and businessman, linked up Bigfoot witnesses and researchers for decades. He did early primary investigations with Betty Allen, local journalist and pioneering Bigfoot researcher, starting in the early 1960s. He was there before Bigfoot became a household word, and became a go-to guy for Bigfoot information after the famous 1958 Bluff Creek events and trackway finds. It is Al's memory that preserves much of the history of this phenomenon, and we've sought to explore it all with him.

The previous segment goes up to a timing of 01:30:30 of a total of 02:17:11 on the MP3 audio file. This file exists as proof against the conspiracy theorists, and will be posted to the bigfooting community once we find the proper server. At the end of our previous segment Al mentioned a book he was reading, one on pre-deluge Biblical history.We’d been talking about his deeply Christian friend, Jerry Crew, and the 1958 Bluff Creek footprint trackway finds.

And now, we continue toward the conclusion with this last third.

AL HODGSON had said: I believe in Christ by the way… but I’m not very forceful… and that’s when I got into this book here….

AL HODGSON: You know it’s interesting--ancient history is good to that book [the Bible]. Besides, the fact, what it is about that book is they are able to go clear back to Noah. English people, and the Irish, all those European people, they go clear back to Noah. It’s amazing how they’ve done it. But, it was all written before. This guy [the author of the book Al has been reading] just found the, researched it, and got the pieces, and put it together.

BIGFOOT BOOKS: One time you had told me that you were less interested in Bigfoot these days, and more interested in Creation.

AL HODGSON: Oh, I am, I’m very interested in Creation.

BIGFOOT BOOKS: Do you ever grow tired of the Bigfoot questions, and feel you’re stuck in it…?

AL HODGSON: Well, I’m not necessarily tired of it, but I, sometimes--I haven’t got time for some of this junk. I don’t have time for it.

BIGFOOT BOOKS: There’s more to life than Bigfoot?

AL HODGSON: That’s right. This is very interesting. In fact there’s one chapter on dinosaurs. It’s amazing.

BIGFOOT BOOKS: What about the “Giants in the Earth,” the ones that are in Genesis, that some people think are Sasquatches? Enkidu, or…

AL HODGSON: Well [chuckles], in here there’s a place [flips through book] where they’re talking about a bipedal beast of some sort… But they don’t, it doesn’t sound like…

BIGFOOT BOOKS: There’s Esau, from the Bible, he was one of the sons of Abraham, wasn’t he? And he was born furry?

AL HODGSON: Israel, you mean? Isaiah? [Isaac, actually, we found out later.]


AL HODGSON: Oh. Esau was one of them.

BIGFOOT BOOKS: His brother was born like a normal person, and Esau was born hairy, with reddish colored hair…

AL HODGSON: Oh, there were two. That’s right, yeah, yeah. They were twins.

BIGFOOT BOOKS: There are some Biblical Studies guys who are also interested in Bigfoot who think that the Sasquatch, you know, was actually living side by side with humanity, in the early days, in the Old Testament…

AL HODGSON: Ah, well, I don’t know. It’s possible, like this on dinosaurs. It’s possible this one, it sounded like… maybe a Sasquatch. I’ll have to go back and look it up, because its talking about “bipedal.” And I said, Uh oh. But it doesn’t quite sound like it because they’re talking about different colors, makes it sound like a fur, but I don’t know.

BIGFOOT BOOKS: There is a lot of strange stuff in the Bible, though.

AL HODGSON: Yeah, but this is, actually… All this does maybe is kind of prove that the Bible is correct, particularly when it comes back to all the way back to Noah, the Flood.

Image: Noah's Ark, or just a weird rock formation?

BIGFOOT BOOKS: You have to wonder how Sasquatches could have survived the Flood. Like, how could they have gotten them on the, on Noah’s Ark. They wouldn’t have been able to catch one to put it on the…

AL HODGSON: Well, the thing of it is, all of the other animals got on there. And there’s lots of theories on how that happened, too.

BIGFOOT BOOKS: Well we’ve got giraffes and lions in the zoos, but no Sasquatches. So I’m kind of wondering how Noah got one on there.

AL HODGSON: Well, they don’t know. It does not say that. All it says is that all the breathing animals got on the Ark, but it doesn’t say the meat eaters and so forth. But we don’t know how they survived…

BIGFOOT BOOKS: There probably were some mountains. They probably survived up there in the high, Himalayan-type mountains, the Bigfoot just stayed up there during the Flood.

AL HODGSON: According to the Bible everything was covered with water. And I would say that is true. I have no way of telling. But, you know something? At one time these mountains were completely covered. Up there, Ironsides. Think about that. That was covered, completely covered. Now, the geologists will tell you that—they’ll tell you that’s true. At one time all of this was completely covered.

BIGFOOT BOOKS: There were glaciers through here at one time.

AL HODGSON: Well, it could be. It was, Dr. McGinnity [sp?], it was Humboldt State, I took one year in Geology, I knew just a little bit. But anyway, he said that at one time those high mountains were down there at sea level, at one time. And then they raised like that, all this igneous rock, it hardened below ground, and then it raised up. It eroded the soft parts away, and that’s where you got your mountains, and way down the canyon, it was all washed out to sea. That’s... some geologisrs—they think that themselves. But anyway, I enjoy Geology. I’m sorry I didn’t pursue it.

BIGFOOT BOOKS: There’s a lot of it around here.

AL HODGSON: Actually, I took one year. After the war I took one year of Geology at Humboldt State, but they discouraged me. They said, well, you’ll never make a living at Geology. You’d better be a school teacher.

BIGFOOT BOOKS: Little did they know, the modern petroleum industry and all of that.

AL HODGSON: That’s right. Well, a few days later I was back in Illinois—in fact, I met Frances back there—and they needed geologists. All those wells, you got down so far they had to have geologists down at the well. There were a lot of things they had to do, so geologists were needed; but here, in Arcata, at that time that was just a teacher’s college. So they were pushing teachers, and I... wasn’t a very good student anyways.

BIGFOOT BOOKS: Well, you did well with your store all of those years. Right?

AL HODGSON: Well, right now, believe it or not—and cross my fingers about it—I’m writing a book. Right now. And it’s down to where I’ve got the chapters, I’ve got the story that’s going to be in there, and now I’m trying to, adding to some of the things, that I haven’t put in to it. As a matter of fact, right now I’m writing about the 1954 earthquake. Pretty tough quake, in Eureka. I was working at Humboldt Machine Works in Arcata at the time. And it’s a big, one big, it was in an “L” shape [the building], it was about sixty feet wide and about a hundred and twenty feet long. And I was in there, I was down here and it hit here [gestures on the table to depict the building and his location in it], and when the earthquake, when it happened, I could hear the roar starting at this side of the building, and coming towards me. And the dust that was falling as it came. And, on top of that, there was a bridge crane in there, and all we could think about was, Where’s that bridge crane?

Image: Al Hodgson in the A-and-E TV documentary, photographed by Steve Streufert from VHS.

BIGFOOT BOOKS: Yeah, I would run away.

AL HODGSON: We didn’t want that thing coming down on top of us. So, we went out the door and we crossed the road, and it was running in waves about that high [gestures, indicating the ground was rippling and rolling up to a certain height].

BIGFOOT BOOKS: It was nothing like this little one we had here recently.

AL HODGSON: No. That was just nothing compared to it.

BIGFOOT BOOKS: I was on the road… That was like 6.0…

AL HODGSON: No one you know was injured in it?

BIGFOOT BOOKS: No, I was on the highway, going towards Eureka, and I just felt like maybe I had a flat tire or something. It was all wavy…

C.I.: So, you felt it in the car?

BIGFOOT BOOKS: Yeah. We were away from the major impact, a little bit.

AL HODGSON: Well, the ’54 earthquake, this one guy, I can’t remember who he was now, he thought he had a flat tire, and he, before seatbelts and everything, opened his door and looked out and it dumped him…. [Laughs all around]

C.I.: I can’t remember how big that was, but it was a…

AL HODGSON: Six point seven, I think it was.

Image: The Forest Service's Lower Trinity Ranger Station, where Al met with Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin, along with Syl McCoy who worked there, after the PGF was shot and sent for delivery; photo by Steven Streufert, 2010.

C.I.: We just barely felt last month’s quake in Redding. You could just feel the little vibration in the floor, like someone was walking heavily in the hallway or something.

AL HODGSON: We didn’t feel it here. I felt, I didn’t feel it at all. I was just coming in with a little wood in my arms. But I got in, the dog was barking, I said, what’s going on? Frances said we had an earthquake. It wasn’t long until Mark called and said are you all right? I said yeah. And he said, well, I just got home and it was shaking pretty good. He says, I’d better get down to the office and see what’s going on. But he’d just left Costco, he says I’m sure glad I'm not at Costco. And some of the people that I know were in Winco [a warehouse grocery], and I suppose it was all dark in there.

BIGFOOT BOOKS: I wouldn’t want to be in there. We were heading to the mall with my kid, to go on that Bounce-a-Rama thing. If we had left 15 minutes earlier we would have been in the Bounce-a-Rama, with the ceiling tiles falling down and the glass breaking, dark, lights out. So we were lucky. We just got delayed, and we were on the nice, comfortable marsh, bay, freeway area. It stank, though. All that sulfur came up out of the Arcata marsh…

AL HODGSON: Oh yeah? Well, I’ll be darned. That’s the way it used to be in the old days, when we first came here. It stunk like bad. Well, the sewer, they just dumped it into the bay.

BIGFOOT BOOKS: Well, we just, it was in the marsh, I guess, that digesting, naturally digesting… Once the earthquake hit it seemed to release that from the soil, and from the water. All of a sudden… wow. I thought a sewage line had broken along the bay or something.

AL HODGSON: That quake, the ’54 was bad enough. Now, my father was in the San Francisco earthquake.

BIGFOOT BOOKS: Now that’s was a major one, the 1906 one? It had all the fires and everything. That was bad, disastrous….

Image: Al Hodgson after our interview with him, posing with Roger's book. Photo by Steven Streufert, 2010.

AL HODGSON: ’06, yeah. He lost everything. He didn’t have much at the time, but he was staying at a hotel and he went over to, he wasn’t concerned about all that stuff. In fact he said he [unintelligible] that morning, after the quake, he put his old grubbies on because he would go downtown to see if the office he was working in was still there or whatever. And he said that he went over to Oakland and sent a telegram home to say he was OK; and when he came back, he got back in the city, fire had caught up there and burnt the whole town, all his stuff was gone. He said that, he told me one time, in his letter he said, he could’ve stepped out on the, from the second story window, where they lived on the second floor, you could have got out of there onto the ground. In one of his letters he says I don’t want to go back so bad, because San Francisco is a sandhill. That’s about the truth, too. I’ve read some stories, I started to read a book about San Francisco, and I said, ah, I’ve had enough of that. I’m not gonna read it. It’s just too terrible, all the gruesome things that happened and everything. Just like there in Haiti right now, excepting that Haiti didn’t have the fire, but there were rescues...

BIGFOOT BOOKS: There wasn’t much standing left to burn.

AL HODGSON: No, no. Yep.

BIGFOOT BOOKS: Well I guess we’re kind of at an end point.

C.I.: I guess so...

BIGFOOT BOOKS: Do you have any other things…

C.I.: Well, I think we’ve covered the timeline issues, and the general history, and the current conspiracy theory belief brought to us by the internet…

AL HODGSON: [Laughs mischievously] He he he! Yeah.

C.I.: Is there anything else you can add, just about your experience with this whole Bigfoot thing over such a huge part of your life? One thing, about giving interviews: many people that I’ve talked to before, afterwards, after giving an interview to someone, have been concerned about something that wasn’t portrayed right, or taken out of context. Are there any interviews that you’ve given over the years that you feel were not used correctly?

AL HODGSON: There was, the most trouble I had with anything was the documentaries. I don’t intend to do any more like that. I don’t have any idea what this guy, Stepon [the film guy, an “Anthropology” student who had just flaked on plans with Bigfoot Books, and did an interview with Al the day before], I have no idea if that was a “documentary.” I don’t know, I have no idea what they…. I went all out for the National Geographic, and what they take out of it…

BIGFOOT BOOKS: They edit you…?

AL HODGSON: Yeah. They make it sound like it was all a hoax. Or they got people to say the other side and say that it was a hoax. I wasn’t happy with it at all. So, I’ve just about had it. Like, with you guys, everything like this, I don’t mind it at all. It’s these guys who try to make it out like a hoax, after you get through they go see somebody else and try to find out a hoax. Yeah, OK. Tell me about it, don’t try to hide it….

BIGFOOT BOOKS: Yeah, they should show you what they’re going to use before they put it in, Maybe it should be in the contract…

AL HODGSON: That’s right.

BIGFOOT BOOKS: …"the person in this film will have review privileges of the end product." Because so many people come and they make movies, film people around here, make them look goofy, or silly, or redneck or ignorant or…

AL HODGSON: Yeah. I just got disgusted with it.

C. I.: The National Geographic people you’re talking about were the ones who filmed during the, uh, Labor Day weekend?

BIGFOOT BOOKS: That was for the Bigfoot Days…

Image: Denali Brown at Bigfoot Days, 2009. Photo by Steven Streufert

C. I.: They were here, what was it, 2005, 2006?

BIGFOOT BOOKS: You know, I can’t remember. It might have been five. Do you remember Al? They filmed the Bigfoot Days parade. I remember them going right behind us, and we didn’t get in the film because it was right over our heads.

AL HODGSON: I just don’t remember, for sure, when they were here.

BIGFOOT BOOKS: It’s hard to keep all of those years straight, a few years ago, let alone in 1958.


C. I.: The actions of the crew have been spoken of in other places in town.

BIGFOOT BOOKS: I know. There’s a lot of people who get bitter about Bigfoot and stuff, after Tom Biscardi or some guy comes in here and makes fools of them.

AL HODGSON: I think that’s what happened to those guys up in Happy Camp.

BIGFOOT BOOKS: Yeah, a lot of people have told me that since that they don’t even want to talk about Bigfoot anymore. They’ve had it. They’ll tell their friends and family, and maybe a few other people, and that’s about it.

AL HODGSON: You know, they didn’t even ask me about it.

C. I.: We should wrap up by saying that that makes us doubly thankful for your time today.

AL HODGSON: Well, I haven’t really known Steve here too much, but I know him pretty well to know that he’s a decent guy.

BIGFOOT BOOKS: Thanks! I remember you from when I was a little kid. I remember reading about it. Your name was in the Bigfoot books that I read when I was ten, from the library. Like when I read John Green’s books and stuff. I read all of those little pamphlet ones. So when I moved to Willow Creek. I’m like, oh my god, Willow Creek, Al Hodgson…. And then when I met you and saw you around town I said, he’s still alive, he’s still here!

AL HODGSON: [Laughs]

Image: The plaque honoring Al, a stalwart public servant, at the Willow Creek Community Service District's water treatment facility. At the mouth of Willow Creek itself as it flows into the Trinity River. Photo by Steven Streufert, 2009.

BIGFOOT BOOKS: It was amazing to me. That all seemed like it was so long ago, looking at all those old black and white pictures.

AL HODGSON: Oh yeah.
BIGFOOT BOOKS: I wanted to ask you about Ray Wallace, if you can just say yes or no.

C. I.: Oh, we forgot about him!

BIGFOOT BOOKS: Did you know Ray Wallace?

AL HODGSON: Oh yeah, I knew him.

BIGFOOT BOOKS: And what did you think when that story came out that he hoaxed all those footprints and stuff…

AL HODGSON: I don’t think that’s true at all. I knew him. He was a prankster, and I don’t… He was the kind of guy that would like to pull a trick….

BIGFOOT BOOKS: For fun though?

Image: Al Hodgson after our interview with him, posing at his kitchen table where it was conducted. Photo by Steven Streufert, 2010.

AL HODGSON: …but he wasn’t the guy to do all that. And he brought me casts one time, about that long [gestures, indicating an absurdly large print cast], obviously carved, they were about that thick. And he wanted me to put them in the window.

BIGFOOT BOOKS: He wanted to sell them? He had his own little business where he would set up by the roadside and sell Bigfoot….

AL HODGSON: Well, he was something else, but I don’t think he was out pulling all this other stuff. In fact, I talked to one man that I knew and he was raised—his father apparently passed away, I don’t know exactly whether both of ‘em—and Ray raised him. And he says, he’s a good old guy. He doesn’t do that stuff. But he knew he was a bit of a prankster. I think what happened, partially what happened up there, his son and his wife, his stepson and his second wife, I think it was, I’m not sure. But anyway, I think that was all put up. I think it was, maybe egg him on? He was an old man, and maybe a little bit senile, and did... something. He wrote me some of the dad-guminest letters.


AL HODGSON: [Laughs]

BIGFOOT BOOKS: Yeah, Dave Paulides published a bunch of those on his website. They were talking about UFOs and stuff like that, Bigfoot and the space aliens…

Image: The Wily Coyote, Ray Wallace, up to his old tricks. Historical.

AL HODGSON: Yeah. I do not, I don’t want to say at all that he didn’t do some of that, really. No, but all the big... he didn’t do all of that, but anyways….

BIGFOOT BOOKS: You probably heard stories at the time though that some of the guys were hoaxing…

AL HODGSON: Oh yeah.

BIGFOOT BOOKS: I’ve talked to some of the older people around town, who were once loggers or worked on road projects, and they… That one guy who lived out in Orleans, he used to own the inn out there, his son was telling me he used to hear the old timers out talking on the porch, and they were like, let’s go out there and make some fake footprints. The loggers would come down there and get whiskey and drink on the porch, and so he heard a lot about it. At least joking about it.

AL HODGSON: Well, joking about it… It’s one thing to say you’re going to do it. It’s another thing to do it, too.

BIGFOOT BOOKS: But to do it well, convincingly….?

AL HODGSON: Well, when they had the symposium, they offered a hundred thousand dollars for somebody who could make footprints, and make them so that they’re really, truly… and no one could do it. And you got no offers to even try it. But what happens is, if you make a fake track... in fact, they made some right out here. Jim McClarin and John Green right out here in our shop. They made some casts, and made some tracks, out of wood. And it makes you think… a board has not action, no action at all. You can stomp them in there, yes, even straight down, but there’s no action, and you couldn’t do it. If you went across…and we had no takers.

C. I.: It would sound like free money!


Images: Two shots of the area where Willow Creek gets its fine drinking water, Willow Creek at the Trinity River, dedicated to Albert E. Hodgson. Below, next door is "Bigfoot's Den" at the Willow Creek Hotel. Photos by Steven Streufert, 2010.

C. I.: So many people on the TV, they look at the movie for like five seconds, and they declare it a fake…


BIGFOOT BOOKS: They scoff…

C. I.: …they don’t spend any time or effort or any money to show, to make a suit or some footprints that can produce something convincing compared to the evidence we already have.

AL HODGSON: That’s right.

C. I.: I’m still amazed that anyone talks to anyone from the media at all!

BIGFOOT BOOKS: Yeah, especially when they do such a shoddy job with monkey suits and ah…

AL HODGSON: Yeaaahh. I don’t even mess with some of that. Bobbie Short, she got angry with me, and I said that’s enough, let’s forget it. I don’t even bother with that.

BIGFOOT BOOKS: Bobbie Short seems to like you enough to quote you in her conspiracy theory stuff.

AL HODGSON: [Laughs out Loud] Ah. ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

BIGFOOT BOOKS: “Al Hodgson declared that Bob Titmus was there, no doubt about it!”

AL HODGSON: I wished I hadn’t-a said that, but I was wrong!

BIGFOOT BOOKS: Did they kind of trick you? Like, they just showed you a picture and, "who does that look like?"

AL HODGSON: Oh yeah. And I thought…. They asked me who was in that print, and I said, well, it might be, I thought, it might be Titmus. Because I thought, John, maybe it was Titmus who came down with him. But it was not Titmus. It was Rene Dahinden who came down with him. But I was... I didn’t remember that.

BIGFOOT BOOKS: And from what you can remember, Rene Dahinden and Bob Titmus, they didn’t like each other that much?


BIGFOOT BOOKS: They probably wouldn’t have wanted to travel down together…

AL HODGSON: And before it was over Rene and John weren’t getting along either. And what happened there?

BIGFOOT BOOKS: Towards the end more? Later on?

Images: MK Davis manipulation of the Dahinden film on BCM; Patty on Bluff Creek; below,John Green with his track collection that may one day reside in part in the Willow Creek-China Flat Museum.

AL HODGSON: Yeah. But Rene, he, like I said, as far as I was concerned, he was flying about that high off of the ground [gestures up high] anyway. His favorite saying was that I remember was “People are seeing bloody holes in the ground!”

BIGFOOT BOOKS: You mean Rene Dahinden?

AL HODGSON: Yeah, everything was bloody to him. He was a Swiss. He was something else.

BIGFOOT BOOKS: He had that great thing he said, “People ask for physical evidence of Bigfoot. What if I take one of these plaster casts of the footprint tracks and hit you over the head with it. Would that be physical enough for you???”

AL HODGSON: [Laughs all around.] Oh yeah.

BIGFOOT BOOKS: You know, that’s just great—I wish I could have spent time with that guy. Now there’s a guy I’d want to go Bigfoot hunting with. At least you’d have good humor around the campfire, even if Sasquatch were never found.

AL HODGSON: Ha ha ha. Yep! But anyway, I’m not going to worry about it anymore. I will tell what I know, but that’s all I can do. I can’t tell ya what I should know or nothing else, and sometimes I’ve forgotten.

BIGFOOT BOOKS: One thing you could tell us is, how did you become convinced that Bigfoot it real? I mean, you’ve told me this story, but…. Like, you believe more now than you did back then when you said you thought it was a hoax, right?

AL HODGSON: Well, you know, the thing of it is… and John Green, he kind of like got after me a time or two. He says, when he found out I didn’t really, necessarily, I.... He said, Al!!! [Laughs] But, right over there [points to his living room] is where I became convinced. We used to have a Bible study one night a week. I can’t remember what night, but anyway, we had it. This one night, John had called me. Bob [Titmus] had passed away and he wanted to know if his casts had come down here, that were from down here, providing that we build a museum. And he said he didn’t want just a room, he wanted a building. I go, OK! And finally I talked to the museum and talked them into building a new building for them. So I made then the deal to bring them down here. So, this night, after the Bible study was over I told them what I had done. And, so, this one couple stayed behind. And, I had no idea, what, I mean…. And she says, “Al, I saw one!” And I didn’t hesitate, and I said, “OK.” I’ve seen enough of the size of that and all, and it pushed me over the edge.

BIGFOOT BOOKS: She was someone you would absolutely believe, always reliable, not seeing things, and not making stuff up.

AL HODGSON: Yeah. That’s right. Yep.

BIGFOOT BOOKS: That’s, I mean, for me it’s like, I have not really seen the Sasquatch, but I’ve heard so many people I’ve met, they’re good honest people…. The more I stay here the harder it is to disbelieve than it is to believe!

AL HODGSON: You know, even Mary Roberts, you know about that?

BIGFOOT BOOKS: Mary Roberts… Wait, oh...

AL HODGSON: What happened was, that, actually they didn’t see him, but you know how they say it’s a terrible smell?

BIGFOOT BOOKS: You mean Mary Roberts, from the hardware store [Roberts’ Mercantile/Ace]?

Image: The lower area of the Bluff Creek PGF site. Photo by Steven Streufert, 2009.

AL HODGSON: Yeah. Yeah. But anyway she, this one night, Mary was working on the books [accounting], and Jerry was tired, he went to bed. And it was summertime, and the windows were open. And the stink, the stench, was so bad that she woke Jerry up to find out, what on Earth is this? And it was there, it wasn’t there very long. It was gone. And so, what was it? Was this one? Because, this was… a lot of them associate that very loud stink with, and in fact was, I don’t know what you saw.... Binder… John Bindernagel, in his book, he said that some great apes have glands under their armpits that they can…and so, maybe, I don’t know.

BIGFOOT BOOKS: It smells like something you’ve never smelled before, apparently, musky, kind of rotten…

AL HODGSON: That’s right. It’s so terrible. But it’s obviously something that they can do at will.

C. I.: Seems like it.

AL HODGSON: Anyway, she was working in the museum, and her husband was a timber man, and he was working on a, he used to work for the tribes in their timber, scaling logs, the timber, to find out how much timber is in an area and so forth. Somebody hired him out to do something else over the weekend. So he went out and encountered this terrible smell. But he left, you know, and he said, you suppose that’s Sasquatch? And he came and told his wife, and she told me, and he finally told me about it. But what was it? I don’t know.

C. I.: It’s an interesting story, or the stories are important, I think, about the smell. Because from what I’ve read, the first time anyone talked about this was talking about Bigfoot or Sasquatch, and then knowing that these gorillas and maybe some other primates do this also came afterwards. So why would someone make this up about a Bigfoot, when no one knew that anything does this? Well, except a skunk! That’s a really interesting bit of evidence, and it’s really powerful because people have been reporting this for a really long time. It’s only relatively recently that we find out that there are some known apes that do this.

AL HODGSON: Yep. That’s right. The first I ever heard of it was John Bindernagel’s book. I don’t know.

C. I.: Someone else had written about that, too, but they might have the same source.

AL HODGSON: It could be. I don’t know. But it’s interesting.

C. I.: There’s something happening out there…

AL HODGSON: But you know, the one thing, too, though. I’ve had a lot of people ask me, well, where are they at? Do I have to go to Bluff Creek to see them? Uh-uh. They’re out here, too [gestures out the window to the local neighborhood].

BIGFOOT BOOKS: I’ve had them. I’ve had reports from right behind my store. I had something come into my yard, which is just a little over a mile along the ridge here, stomping in my backyard…

AL HODGSON: Where do you live?

BIGFOOT BOOKS: Up Panther Road. Right up at the top, Panther Road. It was coming down the hill and it sort of tripped or something, and went, “Whump, whump, whump!” Really heavy, you know, and it didn’t sound like a deer, kind of bound, bounding…

AL HODGSON: Yeah, deer don’t make that much noise.

BIGFOOT BOOKS: I hear people tell me of Waterman Ridge, all over you know…

AL HODGSON: Well, it’s sightings, I… when the National Geographic were coming I advertised, if anybody had seen one, let me know. I had this call from up in Orleans, kind of…


Images: Above and below, Google Earth (2010) aerial views of the Willow Creek areas in question. First, just east of the town, showing the area where yours truly lives and had a possible BF encounter; second, downtown out west to Boise Creek Campground; third, the area a touch further east including the Hodgson house and the Bigfoot Books shop.

AL HODGSON: No upriver.


AL HODGSON: Towards Happy Camp.

BIGFOOT BOOKS: Seiad Valley or whatever they call it?

AL HODGSON: So anyway, I returned the call and asked where’d you see it? And she said, four miles west of Willow Creek!!!


AL HODGSON: Four o’clock, one morning…

BIGFOOT BOOKS: On the 299?

AL HODGSON: And she said, I drive a produce truck. Hmmm. And she came through there early. But anyway, just things like this. There have been several sightings between here and Boise Creek.

BIGFOOT BOOKS: Yeah, just right out of town, pretty much.

AL HODGSON: Yeah, and one I’d heard about, these guys I knew about, I knew about them, but they didn’t tell me. I knew all these guys. They, several of them saw it, just below this look-out, up on Brush Mountain, but they knew long before they finally told me, just two years ago, that they saw this one up there.

BIGFOOT BOOKS: Who were they, though, who saw them out there?

AL HODGSON: One of them was Brown, down here, ah…

BIGFOOT BOOKS: Local people?

AL HODGSON: Which Brown is it? I can’t remember now.

BIGFOOT BOOKS: Just local people…

AL HODGSON: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

BIGFOOT BOOKS: Because I’ve heard, up at the Brush Mountain Look-Out, the woman up there has footprint finds and…

AL HODGSON: Ah, I’ve wondered about her, but I’m not really sure. I don’t like to call anybody a liar, but I don’t know, I’m not sure what to say. I really try to think, maybe she did, but I was kind of… You know, some people want to see one so bad, and I don’t know, I would not say she’s a liar, believe me.

BIGFOOT BOOKS: You could have somebody who is a liar who could also really see a Bigfoot1 But I’ve had other reports, sightings just last summer, on the Friday Ridge Road, like an actual sighting.

AL HODGSON: Well, it actually could be!

BIGFOOT BOOKS: And the year before that there was a sighting back further up. And then before that was the woman seeing them up on the Look-Out.

AL HODGSON: Yeah. I, see, I’m out of the loop, anymore. I don’t hear all of those things that happen today. The fact is, people ask me, Paul [unintelligible], asked me, here, just a little while back. But I don’t know, I’m just out of the loop.

BIGFOOT BOOKS: I’ll call you, if you want to hear about the… you could come with us right now to the…

AL HODGSON: Well, I don’t mind it. I’m not going to go out chasing all over the… because I don’t want to hear it, you know….

BIGFOOT BOOKS: By the time you get there they’re probably long gone anyways.

AL HODGSON: Oh yeah, sure they are.

BIGFOOT BOOKS: I think, you know, maybe just stay put where you are. Like, my yard, it’s back up on this hill. I’m already Sasquatch hunting just by sitting there…

AL HODGSON: [Laughs] Ha ha ha ha! That’s right!

BIGFOOT BOOKS: …reading a book, or whatever.

AL HODGSON: That’s right. But, you know, these, I don’t know how they travel, but my suspicions a lot of the times, is up some of the streambeds, and the nearest stream…. If fact, I know mountain lions are this way. They’re going up there. And Steve Paine, he’s right there by the mouth of Victor Creek, well not the mouth but, it goes right into that hole there.

BIGFOOT BOOKS: Yeah, right where his house is?

AL HODGSON: Yeah, and, he sees a lot of cats there. They use that, they come down those creeks.

BIGFOOT BOOKS: Don’t I know it. I used to live up on the top of The Terrace, just right around the corner from there. And we used to have mountain lions all the time. The lady across the street from us fed all the stray house cats. So the raccoons would come around for that cat food, and pretty soon other creatures, skunks and…, pretty soon you’d be hearing about mountain lions coming. We had them walking right down the street, in the middle of the road. And there’s that creek that runs right behind Delaney [Street] there. They are definitely cruising that area, eating cats and…

AL HODGSON: Oh yeah. Sure. And they just normally travel those streambeds. Now, like in here, we rarely have anything in here. But over in China Creek or Butterfly Creek, either one, they come down there quite often. And they get out from the creek itself a little bit, but not usually this far out. They’re traveling more in the creekbeds and…

BIGFOOT BOOKS: That Bloody Nose Creek, it's kind of like a rugged canyon all around it.

AL HODGSON: It’s a little bit different there. It comes out on top and there’s houses right up against it, almost. But all that area, it’s different anyway. But I don’t know what to say.

BIGFOOT BOOKS: Well, I think we’re at a point where we kind of should stop, because it’s been a couple of hours anyway.

AL HODGSON: [Laughs]

BIGFOOT BOOKS: And we were supposed to go see these other people.


BIGFOOT BOOKS: If you want to come, we were going to go out to Oden Flat, there’s been a Sasquatch sighting. I know you have to stay…

Image: Historical; one of the 1967 Blue Creek Mountain footprints.

AL HODGSON: Ah no, I shouldn’t, I shouldn’t go out. If you see something good, let me know about it, but I don’t need to, ah…

BIGFOOT BOOKS: There was a sighting! A young fifteen year old girl and her friend were playing out in the yard, with a few other friends out there. The dad was gone, he’d gone away, out in his truck driving. And they saw something behind a bush, and it looked like a bear, you know. And she was standing there like, wow, what is that moving there, at the edge of the woods. And once she started looking right at it, it reached up an arm and grabbed a branch and pulled itself up and stood up. It was like seven foot-something, standing there right in front of her. It was kind of like twilight and shadowy, but she was able to see the form, and the color, the shagginess of the hair and how long it was. Four feet wide in the shoulders….

AL HODGSON: Wow. But you know, well, sometimes you don’t know about kids, either. Now this one, they told me about this one, [unintelligible] in Eureka, and I passed it on to Dave, Paulides. And so, he talked to her, and all went fine, until he asked her to sign an affidavit—didn’t do it. And so that kind of tells you it’s probably not true

BIGFOOT BOOKS: I don’t know how Dave does it, with the affidavits, because my experience is people will tell me about Bigfoot after maybe seeing me in my shop a few times and one day they’ll say, kind of shyly, I’ve SEEN one of them.

AL HODGSON: Well, the thing about it is, if you’re taking all the whole thing, and if you really are serious, unless don’t know what an affidavit means, it just means you swearing that that’s true. And so, you shouldn’t have no reason…

BIGFOOT BOOKS: But you have to put your name… A lot of people around here, they don’t want to be made fun of, they don’t want their name on the…

AL HODGSON: Well, I understand that. I don’t blame them there.

BIGFOOT BOOKS: They’ll tell me their story because they’ve grown to kind of trust me and…

AL HODGSON: They trust you. That’s right.

BIGFOOT BOOKS: And I ask them, can I write some of this down and put your name on it, put it on my blog, and they’re like, NO!!!


Image: Footprint casts from the 1967 Patterson-Gimlin film creature, in a display set up by Cliff Barackman. Photo by Steven Streufert, 2007.

BIGFOOT BOOKS: I ask, and where do you live? Well, I can’t tell you exactly where I live because I grow pot out there, or something…!

AL HODGSON: [Laughs] Ha ha ha!

BIGFOOT BOOKS: And they don’t want a bunch of Bigfoot hunters coming on their property, either.

AL HODGSON: I know. No, they do not. And you know, there’s so much pot now.

BIGFOOT BOOKS: It’s everywhere.

AL HODGSON: I’m against it, but I think the only thing to do is to legalize it. I hate to say it, but I think it’s the only thing. Because it gets so far out of hand now that they’ll never get control of it.

BIGFOOT BOOKS: It’s like the Mafia of something, taking over.

AL HODGSON: That’s right!

BIGFOOT BOOKS: You can feel it, the criminal feeling of the…

AL HODGSON: But you know, I met a guy not too long ago, and he was telling us, that he knew this guy, he had to stop to see him, and he had a hundred thousand dollars in cash in the cab with him, and he said he had more in the trunk.


AL HODGSON: But he says, you know, I can’t get out of it now, I’m in that, and there’s just no way I can get out of it. But he said there’s lots of money in it and….

BIGFOOT BOOKS: And why would you want to work for a living when you can…? Why open a hardware store or a bookstore…?

Image: The high water sign in Willow Creek, Hwy. 96, marking the level of the Great 1964 Flood, spoken of by Al in an earlier part of this interview. It forged the famous Bluff Creek gravel bar in the PGF. Photo by Steven Streufert, 2010.

AL HODGSON: But you know, the thing of it is, now he has no life. He can’t get out. The Mafia and such, is here. I think that’s the only thing you can do, there’s so much pot growing in this part of the country.

BIGFOOT BOOKS: I’d love to see it legal, just so they don’t have their criminal black market anymore.

AL HODGSON: That’s right.

BIGFOOT BOOKS: You know, make it legal, make it grow in the backyard, instead of ruining everybody’s houses and stuff.

AL HODGSON: Yep. This house right down here, that was a grow house. They’re all over town.

BIGFOOT BOOKS: You kind of worry when your kid lives next door to one, like mine did. They were growing, I don’t think they are now, but at one time you could hear the fans running all day, all night. They had suspicious behavior out in the front yard. You just knew what was happening. Drapes closed…

AL HODGSON: Oh yeah. Well you know, one day, I never knew what pot smelled like. And I smelled it a couple of times, and somebody told me kind of what it smelled like, like it stunk. And then one day, what, it was horrible! And I looked down here and it was coming from this fireplace, right up here.

Image: Bob Titmus with some of his impressive track cast collection, now housed in the Willow Creek-China Flat Museum. Historical.

BIGFOOT BOOKS: They were burning it in the…, they were probably burning the scraps, stems and stuff?

AL HODGSON: Yeah, the scraps.

BIGFOOT BOOKS: Oh man. That’s a lot of nerve there!

AL HODGSON: I know! I thought I’d tell them, be careful what your doing, because burning pot in the fireplace is… [Chuckles].

BIGFOOT BOOKS: It seems like advertising...!

C. I.: Yeah. [Laughs] Smoke signals!

BIGFOOT BOOKS: Come on here, rob my house!

AL HODGSON: We go over to Burnt Ranch most every Friday, a Bible study up there. And we, in the summer time, by, up here, you can smell it halfway up through Burnt Ranch…[small edit] Horrible smell. Got up to Hawkins Bar… AGAIN!!!

BIGFOOT BOOKS: Yeah, there’s a lot of pot growing and stuff out here. Trinity County is worse than Humboldt.

AL HODGSON: That’s right.

BIGFOOT BOOKS: They consider Willow Creek like a conservative town…

Image: Another view of the Lower Trinity Ranger Station; photo by Steven Streufert, 2010.


BIGFOOT BOOKS: If you go out there it’s just open, like nobody cares.

AL HODGSON: Uh huh. You know this guy who owns the feed store down here?

BIGFOOT BOOKS: Farmer Brown?

AL HODGSON: Yeah, he’s going to build his own place because he’s made enough money off the pot growers and…

BIGFOOT BOOKS: It’s like the most successful business in town right now, I think. I mean the most successful… legal one….

AL HODGSON: That’s right. Yeah. But you know… I tell ya. Like I said, at the same time, I don’t see any other way out. It’ll be better that way I think than to leave it the way it is.

BIGFOOT BOOKS: Get Bigfoot to police it?

C.I.: Very logical!

AL HODGSON: [Chuckles. Photos are taken of Al posing with the book that Roger Patterson inscribed and signed to Albert Hodgson personally.]


C.I.: That looks pretty good.

Image: Mr. Hodgson's well worn copy of the 1966 Roger Patterson book. Photo by Steven Streufert.

BIGFOOT BOOKS: That’s amazing! I think… You’ve had that book since 1967 or something?

AL HODGSON: Yeah, I don’t know exactly. I think it was just right after the… You can see it’s been well read.

BIGFOOT BOOKS: Yeah, you’ve probably showed it to a lot of people over the years, too.

AL HODGSON: My brother had it for a while. I think every teacher in Hoopa probably read it.

BIGFOOT BOOKS: Yeah, that book, I mean, without the signature that book is very hard to get now.

AL HODGSON: Oh, I know it is.

BIGFOOT BOOKS: It costs about sixty to seventy-five dollars for a good copy, forty-five for the ones that are falling apart, with the pages breaking out, which is about half of the ones you see.

AL HODGSON: [Laughs] Well, mine’s getting kind of dog-eared!

BIGFOOT BOOKS: Well, it’s signed, so it’s priceless. I don’t know how many signatures Roger did on his books.

AL HODGSON: Yeah. I have no idea, no idea.

BIGFOOT BOOKS: Well, OK. We’re kind of needing to get lunch, aren’t we? [It is now about 5:00]

C. I.: I know it’s getting late. I’m just afraid to turn off the recorder unless there’s a last minute Revelation!

AL HODGSON: [Laughs]

Image: Another classic photo of Roger Patterson and his tracks. Historical.

BIGFOOT BOOKS: Well, that could be in Part Two....

AL HODGSON: If I have anything more I’ll write you or something.

BIGFOOT BOOKS: We could go “off the record” and talk about other things, like MK… Dave, MK and Dave, you know, or Bobbie…

AL HODGSON: Well, you know, I like MK. But I, but he, he had a bad habit though….

[Here the recording abruptly ENDS. The "bad habit" above was MK's dropping in to see Al after ten o'clock at night, BTW. See below for more….]

END OF AUDIO MP3 RECORDING FILE. After this the conversation continued on for about ten more minutes, but it was officially off-record and so we will leave out any kind of summary. See below for a few follow-up questions.

BONUS QUESTIONS, Feb. 19-28th, 2010!

Via email we asked Mr. Hodgson a few more questions, and for more elaboration. More may follow, but we'll see. We asked...

BIGFOOT BOOKS: Hi again, Al. There are a few questions I realize now I should have asked you. Perhaps some day we can do a second round?

Al, how well did you know Ray Wallace, or did hear about him around the Willow Creek community? What were your encounters with him like? What are your feelings or knowledge about the idea that he hoaxed many of those early Bluff Creek footprint finds, from 1958 to 1967? Did you ever hear about hoaxing of Bigfoot being done by anyone else around here at that time?

AL HODGSON: Good morning Steve. To answer your question referring to Ray Wallace.... Yes I knew him, in fact for several years, but not real well. He had the reputation of being a prankster. He had a recording about Bigfoot and [what] was supposed to be of Bigfoot [howls, etc.] on one of the old 45 records with the big hole in the center, and was angry because I didn't want them. Another time he brought two huge casts in and wanted me to put them in one of our windows. Must have been about two foot long and 10 or 12 wide. I think he knew a lot about Bigfoot, but I couldn't tell which was true and was not.

We knew his brother Shorty as well as his wife. Our kids went to school together and Cub scouts. I still have some of his letters he wrote to me. There were a lot of stories about him and what he had done, but I don't know a thing that I could lay at his feet.

How well do you know your neighbor Jay Rowland? If you could get to know him real well, he knows a lot, but Jay is kind of funny. However, he knew Ray a lot better than I did. He worked for Shorty Wallace and stayed up there during the week in a tent. I understand when he came out of his tent one morning there were fresh tracks around his tent.

Image: Ray Wallace with his silly roadside attraction collection of "Bigfoot" track casts. Wait, doesn't that look a bit like Rant Mullens with the Wallace casts? Oh, the conspiracy thickens! Historical.

BIGFOOT BOOKS: So, do you have any recollection of when Ray or Shorty were actually in the area living or working up on the Bluff Creek projects? If so, do any of these correspond with the times of the Jerry Crew tracks of 1958, the Onion Mountain and Blue Creek Mountain footprint trackway finds of 1967, or were they here at the time of the Patterson-Gilmin film? It would be good to rule out some of these things, especially as some of those wooden foot stompers he had do look a lot like some of those 1967 prints. And regarding Ray, did you get the impression he really believed in Bigfoot, or was he just trying to make money off of it or gain attention?

Also, did you ever hear from or of other folks and locals talking about doing hoaxes? I've heard from that Delaney guy whose father used to own the inn in Orleans, and from Joe Ramos of Willow Creek, and a few other old-timers, that they knew of such hoaxing activities. I get the impression that it was considered a fun thing to do while working up in the hills, when those guys were a bit bored or sitting around the campfire at night kidding around after work.

AL HODGSON: I know that Yellow Creek Co. was here about 1956 and that Shorty was here at that time, but they had other jobs, where I don't know. I really don't know. People are talking about wooden feet--I'm sure they have never tried to make tracks. Other than one or two where it was just right, it can't be done, there is no action. You can make one or two if you can place your wooden foot down in on sand and have a place above to do the placement, but to make a string [trackway] and over rough ground [?]. We offered $100,000 to any could do it and we had no takers. I have heard of people saying tracks were a hoax, but I don't know.

BIGFOOT BOOKS: Thanks for your time on these questions. You know I could probably ask them for weeks and never get to the end of it. Anyway, could you tell me anything about this...?

I'm wondering, can you recreate the conversation you had with Roger Patterson and what happened that night after they had gotten the film up in Bluff Creek? I mean, what did Roger say, how did he act, what kinds of things did you, Syl McCoy, Roger and Bob talk about in that one to two hours (as you'd said) time you spent that night (at the ranger station, right?) before they went back up to their camp?

I'm curious--after they called you on the phone, where did you meet them, who was there, and where did you go to talk further? What was Syl's perspective? Was Frances there, or your sons?

Images: Roger Patterson with track casts;, Historical.

We know the basics. He called you up and said, Al I filmed that son of a buck! And your wife Frances had said something like, either he had really seen a Bigfoot or he was on LSD. Right? Stuff like that we know; but is there any more to the story that many may not have ever heard? What was the sequence of events? Do you know what their possible plans were, I mean, before they got rained out up in Bluff Creek?
Also, can you recall any other things that Roger and you had talked about over the years that may not have been published before? Or, do you have any impressions or stories about him you could tell? I'm sure you understand, but because there is so little left of Roger other than the film, his book, and a few stories, and because he died so young, we're all hungry for any little tidbit of knowledge or appreciation we can get of the guy. I mean, especially from YOU, someone who knew him. THANKS!

AL HODGSON: xxxxxxxxxxx [Answer not yet received. We will post it here along with any follow-up question when Al has had the time to reply.]

Researcher Cliff Barackman has blogged about our Al Hodgson Interview recently, twice actually. Check his blog, NORTH AMERICAN BIGFOOT... on Part One HERE, and on Part Two HERE. You'll get a bit more history and a few cool images of Al Hodgson as well. Be sure to check out Cliff's record of the 1963 Al Hodgson footprint find from the Notice Creek/Bluff Creek area HERE. Cliff's main site, which you should view and bookmark, is

We realize that a lot of this interview focused on certain minutiae and esoterica particular to the bigfooting community. We hope to ask Al more general and historical questions in the next one, hopefully revealing more about his personal history and the background from which “Big Foot” was born.


... is still hibernating this week.
Oh wait! He just rolled over in his sleep and muttered, "Skeptics, my ass!"

Con-texts of this blog, save for archival or historical images (fair use, for research only), copyright 2010, Bigfoot Books Intergalactic and Steven Streufert. Please feel free to quote with citation and link to this blog included.


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  3. I read it! Good stuff!! Thank you for what you do. :)

  4. Hi there. I have had sightings and visits. Believe me they are not the same. On one account I woke up to one looking in my window. We were living in our cabin which is located neat the top of a mountain 8,684' to be exact in the middle of a National Forest. As soon as it was light enough outside I went to investigate and the feet prints were large enough to swallow my feet. These prints were sunk in the solid ice. Mind you it was still Winter and the ice on the ground was 3 to 4" thick. This was no man watching me sleep.

  5. its been said he's at least part human, lets give him a more human look instead of a rampaging ape. and don't forget two different species cannot mate...he's either human or what would a ape or gorilla be doing in the wilds of North America? seriously... unless there's more than bigfoot out there.....


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