Nestled in the Siskiyou National Forest is a device meant to catch the mythical creature of the Pacific Northwest.
Bigfoot, aka Sasquatch. Is it real or an urban myth? It depends on who you ask.
First Nations people in southwest British Columbia in the early 1800s had a name for the cryptid: sasq’ets. In translation, it became Sasquatch.
The wild man-beast was said to roam in Oregon and other parts of the West Coast. Gold miners in the Applegate region of southwest Oregon reported sightings of Sasquatch in the 1850s.
“There’s this whisper among the miners that there was this creature out here, human-like, but unhuman-like, shadow. And it wasn’t just one miner. It was multiple. So it wasn’t a random thing,” said Ryan King, a teacher at the Ruch Outdoor Community School.
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Fast forward to 1969 when a miner named Perry Lovell says he found 18-inch footprints next to his gold claim on the Applegate River. The footprints were six feet apart.
If only there was some way to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt the existence of Bigfoot or Sasquatch. There were enough sightings of the beast.
Then, in 1974, a group from Eugene called the North American Wildlife Research Team built what is perhaps the only Bigfoot trap in the world. It sits in the middle of old-growth timber in the Siskiyou National Forest in southern Jackson County, just a few miles from the California border.
“When this was constructed, it was with the intention to trap Bigfoot. It was commissioned as the unofficial Bigfoot trap and I believe it’s the only one in North America. And they would bait it. They would put meat in there. They would routinely check it,” King said.
The trap caught only a few bears and one particularly cranky hunter.
The bigfoot trap is part of the Ruch school curriculum.
“We have the teachers read ‘Sasquatch,’ do a whole curriculum on the book. So the kids kind of get prepped a little bit with the folklore and the mythology,” King said. “Kids have heard of Bigfoot, but I think they … it’s this, like, mythological creature. It’s not a real thing. But when you tell them, ‘Hey, there was a trap that was built to capture Bigfoot, then it becomes a little more real.”
King said the school also uses the Bigfoot curriculum to infuse a lot of natural history and a lot of environmental studies into the teachings.
They also don’t teach whether Bigfoot or Sasquatch is real or not real.
Opinions are split as to whether the students believe or dismiss the notion of Bigfoot.
It’s easy to find the Bigfoot trap.
- From Medford, go west to Jacksonville.
- Then take Highway 238 about 13 miles to the town of Ruch.
- From there, continue south on 238 for another 15 miles and look for the Collings Mountain Trailhead No. 943 sign.
- Follow the trail for a half-mile until it forks. Hang a left. You’ll find the trap about 200 feet up the hill.
Be sure to wear long pants. There is a lot of poison oak here. Bring some water and do not forget your camera or smartphone ready because, well, you never know.