Review – The Beast of Boggy Creek by Lyle Blackburn

Book link:  The Beast of Boggy Creek

Even though I do not think that Yeti/Bigfoot/Sasquatch/The Fouke Monster is an undiscovered bipedal primate but instead something much more mysterious, I could not resist the opportunity to read this book.  I confess, to my never ending shame as a follower of all things that go bump in the night, that I have never seen the movie “The Legend of Boggy Creek” by Charles B. Pierce but, as a youngster growing up in Texas at the time this movie released, I certainly remember my friend’s scary summaries of the movie and those conversations were one of many things that got me interested in all things monstrous.

Lyle Blackburn actually did see the movie and he has done an excellent job in this book of relating that experience and then taking us on a tour of Fouke, Arkansas and the Boggy Creek area that the movie made famous.  Blackburn does an excellent job of telling us something about the history of the place and sets the events which led to the fire storm of publicity in the 1960’s and 70’s into a longer perspective – a perspective that included tales of a “wild man” roaming the woods of the area all the way back in the 1800’s.

Blackburn does a deft job of presenting the history and setting it into the geographic region without making the mistake of beating the reader with all of his research.  Obviously, he took the job of chronicling the Beast of Boggy Creek seriously and he spent a lot of time digging through newspaper archives, magazines and books as well as talking to the people who were actually there.  Another writer could have turned this into a ponderous tome of several hundred pages but Blackburn manages to keep it lean and I never felt the need to get up and have a drink because the text was too dry.  Blackburn obviously has a passion for his subject and it shows in every page of the book as well as the fairly extensive references at the end of the text.

After placing the monster in its historical, cultural and geographic milieu, Blackburn goes on to show that the Fouke Monster emerged into more modern times in 1908 and that sightings are still being reported to the present.  Blackburn thus deals a very effective death blow to the skeptics who maintain that the Fouke Monster created a stir during a certain period and then disappeared.  During the course of this exposition, Blackburn also skillfully weaves in the story of the making of the movie and even manages to take a quick side trip into other movies and cultural phenomenon that derived from the original “Legend” without getting completely off track.  I found the information on the movie mildly interesting and can see why Blackburn chose to include it but I would have preferred more monster stories and less movie and music talk.

It is the section titled “A Question of Theories” that I found to be the weakest part of the book and I expect this derives from the fact that many of Blackburn’s sources – from the folk of Fouke and the surrounding area to the researchers of the Texas Bigfoot Research Conservancy – all operate from the same basic assumption: that the Fouke Monster and its Sasquatch kin are undiscovered physical, bipedal primates living a very secluded and elusive life in places like the swamps of the Sulfur River State Wildlife Management Area.

Bigfooters tend to think this way; it never occurs to them to look at the paranormal/magical side for an explanation of their favorite mystery.  So, Blackburn limits his discussion of theory to: crazy people/hallucinations/”those crazy rednecks”, circus escapees, moonshiners trying to keep people from their stills, black panthers (for an upright bipedal primate??) and even the idea that rascists concocted the story to keep black people out of Fouke.  Of course, the lion’s share of the theoretical treatment goes to the discussion of the theory of undiscovered bipedal apes in our midst. I will let you read his case for yourself and tell you to pay close attention to the issue of three toed tracks and leave this well enough alone – for now.

Despite some awkward turns of phrase, Blackburn is, for the most part, a fairly smooth and concise writer and I would recommend this book highly to anyone interested in this subject.  I’ll detail my own theories about Sasquatch and its kin at a later date since I do not want to write a book of my own here.


About stormeye60

A place for discussing the interface between magic and things that go bump in the night. View all posts by stormeye60

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