Deep in the woods, a legend stirs.
Allured by the spirit of the upcoming World Athletics Championships Oregon22, Legend the Bigfoot will make a historic journey out of the misty Oregon forests, heading to Eugene to cheer on the world’s best track and field athletes. The creature will serve as the mascot for the global track and field championships event, helping fans with tickets at entry, interacting with kids and keeping the athletes’ spirits high.
Bright and colorful with a wide smile, Legend may not look like the stereotypical Bigfoot. But make no mistake: This eye-catching, outgoing and friendly individual is intended to be just as wild, strong and fast as any of its brethren — inspiring both athletes and track fans.
“Sasquatch kind of is the poster child for possibilities, isn’t it?” says Cliff Barackman, Bigfoot researcher and owner of the North American Bigfoot Center in Boring.
Barackman should know. His museum — which includes a life-size Sasquatch replica, footprint casts, historical artifacts and Bigfoot film screenings — is located in an area famous for Bigfoot sightings, as well as the hometown of American shot-put world-record holder Ryan Crouser, who’ll be competing at the World Athletics Championships, and just so happens to be Bigfoot-sized too.
History of a Legend
Chosen for his connection to Oregon, Bigfoot couldn’t be a more appropriate icon. These creatures — locally known as Sasquatch, a term possibly derived from a Salish word, sasq’ets — have played an enduring role in cultures across the Pacific Northwest. Reports of a large, hairy “wild man” first emerged in 1904 by settlers in the Sixes River area near Port Orford, but similar men appear in Tribal lore, including those in the Plateau region and on the Oregon Coast.
While Bigfoot is considered to be a cryptid — a creature whose existence has never been proven — reported sightings of Bigfoot continue to surface. In 1958 woodworkers in the Cascade Mountains said they saw one, and there were enough subsequent accounts in the following decades to generate interest in creating the (now defunct) Bigfoot Information Center in The Dalles in the 1970s, which logged encounters in the Mt. Hood area and beyond. Seski the Sasquatch was the official mascot of Oregon’s sesquicentennial in 2009, and the Oregon Department of Transportation even cast a Bigfoot in a crosswalk safety film in 2016.
Now Legend the Bigfoot will join them, coming out of hiding to headline the Oregon22 championships to be linked forever to the history of Oregon and its athletic heritage.
Seeking Bigfoot on the Road
For those who believe in Bigfoot and want to find Legend’s mythic brothers and sisters in the wild, Oregon offers plenty of opportunities.
“Most people who see Sasquatch are doing something else at the time,” Barackman says. “They’re camping or driving or something like that. So any of the tourist activities in likely habitat in Oregon would do just fine.”
If you’re just headed out on an Oregon road trip, you may want to try exploring in the counties with the most reported sightings in roughly a 30-year period: Clackamas County with 27, Josephine with 21, Douglas with 17 and Lane, where the World Athletics Championships will be held, with 16.
From Eugene, a day trip southeast to the warm waters of McCredie Hot Springs goes through Oakridge, where there are a large number of Bigfoot sightings, according to Barackman. He also says there has been a reported sighting in 2022 already, just outside Lincoln City.
You may also want to visit the Blue Mountains in Northeast Oregon, where Paul Freeman, a U.S. Forest Service patrolman, reported finding Bigfoot prints in the 1980s. Relatively nearby in Baker City, you’ll find another Bigfoot researcher, Scot Violette, whose Squatch America group takes sighting reports and even meets up with people interested in going on “squatching trips.” Hikers heading into the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest can still see a 10-by-10-foot Sasquatch trap erected by researchers in 1974 near Applegate Lake — no longer in use.
For an enjoyable day filled with live talks and music, you may also want to check out the festivities at the Oregon Bigfoot Festival & Beyond in Canby – held this year on July 30, 2022 – where researchers including Barackman will share stories of Sasquatch sightings and other tales of UFOs and paranormal activities.