Finding Bigfoot in the Pacific Northwest

Special Reports

Rumors of Bigfoot living in the Pacific Northwest have become part of popular culture

BORING, Ore. (KOIN) — For decades, researchers have tried to pin down evidence of Bigfoot.

The elusive Sasquatch has long been rumored to make its home in the Pacific Northwest. So much so, it has become part of popular culture.

A drive around Southeast Portland may take you past a colorful Bigfoot mural. A new playground in Washougal now boasts a larger-than-life Bigfoot climbing sculpture for kids.

Earlier this year, the Oregon State Fire Marshal featured Sasquatch on a new fire safety campaign, with everyone’s favorite cryptid helping convince Oregonians to “believe” in fire safety.

The Oregon State Fire Marshal’s Bigfoot We Believe in fire safety campaign. (Courtesy of OSFM)

For some people, the idea of a huge hairy human-like ape is pretty far out there, but others say they’ve seen it — and believe it.

Ask Cliff Barackman if Bigfoot exists, and he’ll look at you like you’re questioning the existence of dogs.

“Sasquatches are perfectly normal animals, and it’s OK that people see them,” he said.

Barackman, a leading Sasquatch researcher who made a name for himself on Animal Planet’s Finding Bigfoot, calls the Pacific Northwest home and hopes his newest adventure will help track down something here.

Cliff Barackman and his wife Melissa opened the North American Bigfoot Center right off Highway 26 in Boring. (KOIN)

“I really want to focus on Bigfoots here in my own backyard. I mean, I live in the woods outside of Sandy — there are Sasquatches not far from where I actually live,” he said. “So I want to find out about the habits of the local Bigfoots. What better way could there possibly be than to open a center around Sasquatch for the local people to come in and tell me what they know, so I can start piecing together this puzzle.”

This summer, Barackman and his wife Melissa just opened the North American Bigfoot Center right off Highway 26 in Boring.

Part shop, part museum, part research hub — the center is a place for tourists and locals alike to learn about the history and the research behind Sasquatch.

“We thought it’d be really fun to share the information and maybe learn more about the Sasquatches cruising around Clackamas county,” Melissa Barackman said.

The Barackmans gave KOIN 6 News a tour of the center and the newly-opened backroom with several exhibits. They’ve started compiling new research, like prints left in fabric when someone spotted a mattress on the side of the road in the Coast Range.

Bigfoot prints from a mattress in the American Bigfoot Center right off Highway 26 in Boring. (KOIN)

“These are the actual footprints that [our friend] cut out of the mattress,” Cliff said, gesturing to a display case near a front window. “The footprints tell a story about the animal that left them.”

New exhibits feature never-before-seen video from our area, along with a recap of some of the more well-known Bigfoot sightings, like the Patterson-Gimlin film. There’s also a vast collection of hand and footprints and even… a butt print.

“[Cliff] has the second-largest cast collection in the world,” Melissa said.

The walls are thoughtfully curated with explanations of the history of recorded Sasquatch tales and sightings. Prominently displayed among the casts and photos, a wall of stories from indigenous people.

“If you want to know about the animals living in the woods, ask the people who’ve been living in them for thousands and thousands of years,” Cliff said. “The word Sasquatch actually came from the Sts’ailes reserve in British Columbia.”

Cliff Barackman and his wife Melissa opened the North American Bigfoot Center right off Highway 26 in Boring. (KOIN)

Barackman’s goal in comparing evidence from all over the country — even all over the world — is to paint a better picture of the humongous humanoid — one that could be the next frontier of Cryptozoology — literally, the study of hidden animals.

He says it’s becoming to hard to ignore patterns in evidence separated by location and time — sometimes thousands of years.

“When you look at the history of Cryptozoology in general, there’s some really interesting examples,” Cliff said, referencing a new species of Orangutan just discovered in 2017. “There’s a lot left to be discovered on this planet.”

“I don’t care if they believe it or not, I know what I saw,” he said. “Until you see one, it’s hard to believe in something you can’t see.”

Despite Bigfoot’s resurging popularity, many believers still face a stigma.

Visitors can place a pin on a map where they’ve seen sightings. One of the center’s recent reports came from a Portland man who didn’t want to be identified; worried it could affect his job.

He says he was hiking with his girlfriend and horse near Zig Zag this summer when he began hearing footsteps and strange sounds.

“The horse came walking up, and its ears are up, it’s acting all strange. I’m looking around and I’m thinking cougar,” he said.

Waiting for his girlfriend at a river crossing, he said he saw an animal but it wasn’t a cougar.

“I see a silhouette of what looks like a giant man in a hoodie, but it couldn’t have been because it was way too big. It moved probably 50 feet towards me and was rocking back and forth. I kinda panicked,” he explained. “I’m trying to hold the horse still, keep it calm, and I’m not believing what I’m seeing, I’m thinking this can’t be.”

Bigfoot hand and footprints at the North American Bigfoot Center right off Highway 26 in Boring. (KOIN)

Weeks later, he returned to the area and says he found a large footprint. So what does he say to skeptics?

“I don’t care if they believe it or not, I know what I saw,” he said. “Until you see one, it’s hard to believe in something you can’t see.”

Barackman agrees and said with more research, and the new center, it’s only a matter of time.

“We’ve only been open a few months and already seen interesting artifacts and pieces of evidence. But who knows what’s going to walk through that door any given day,” he said.

“It could be proof, it could be evidence that no one’s ever seen before — it could be something new that tips it over the edge, that gives us that DNA evidence that we’ve been seeking.”

Until then, you can visit the center and decide for yourself if you believe.

The North American Bigfoot Center is located at 31297 SE US-26. It’s open from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Thursdays – Mondays.

Admission to the museum is $8 for adults, $6 for kids and seniors and children under 3 are free.

Visit the North American Bigfoot Center

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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