Ape Canyon

Originally reported in 1924, Fred Beck's story of an attack by ape-creatures upon a cabin on Washington's Mount St. Helens became news again following the renewed interest in Sasquatch stories in the 1950s. The 1924 story, which caused quite a stir in regional newspapers at the time, told of how Beck and a group of prospectors had been attacked while in their cabin. The Portland, Oregon Oregonian of July 13, 1924 first broke the story:

Fight With Big Apes Reported By Miners Fabled Beasts Are Said to Have Bombarded Cabin One of Animals, Said to Appear Like Huge Gorilla, Is Killed by Party

Kelso, Wash., July 12 - (Special) The strangest story to come from the Cascade mountains was brought to Kelso today by Marion Smith, his son Roy Smith, Fred Beck, Gabe Lefever and John Peterson, who encountered the fabled 'mountain devils' or mountain gorillas of Mount St. Helens this week, shooting one of them and being attacked throughout the night by rock bombardments of the beasts.

The men had been prospecting a claim on the Muddy, a branch of the Lewis River about eight miles from Spirit Lake, 45 miles from Castle Rock. They declared that they saw four of the huge animals, which were about 7 feet tall, weighed about 400 pounds and walked erect. Smith and his companions declared that they had seen the tracks of the animals several times in the last six years and Indians have told of the 'mountain devils' for 60 years, but none of the animals ever has been seen before.

Smith met with one of the animals and fired at it with a revolver, he said. Thursday Fred Beck, it is said, shot one, the body falling over a precipice. That night the animals bombarded the cabin where the men were stopping with showers of rocks, many of them large ones, knocking chunks out of the log cabin, according to the prospectors. Many of the rocks fell through a hole in the roof and two of the rocks struck Beck, one of them rendering him unconscious for nearly two hours.

The animals were said to have been the appearance of huge gorillas. They are covered with long, black hair. Their ears are about four inches long and stick straight up. They have four toes, short and stubby. The tracks are 13 to 14 inches long. These tracks have been seen by forest rangers and prospectors for years.

The prospectors built a new cabin this year and it is believed it is close to a cave thought to be occupied by the animals. Mr. Smith believes he knows the location of the cave. (Green, 45)

Several follow-up articles were printed but interest soon faded away.

The story was rediscovered in 1964 by John Green and Roger Patterson, who each interviewed Beck concerning his experiences. Green noted some discrepancies in Beck's testimony, writing that: 'To my understanding there was a difficulty in fitting all the elements of his story in logical order, but I was not able to clear that up' (48). Green was not sufficiently troubled by these difficulties to discount the veracity of the account, however. He wrote:

Did all this really happen? I think so. To the people at that time and place, knowing nothing of such creatures except the old legends of mountain devils, the miners' story was not believable. However if such animals do exist, then certainly the most acceptable explanation for the miners having claimed to see them is that they did see them. There isn't a shadow of a suggestion as to why they would make up such a story and keep telling it all their lives. (48)

Most of the early researchers would consider the story of Ape Canyon one of the classics of the field.

In recent years, however, Beck's autobiography has caused some Bigfooters to take a second look at the Ape Canyon story. In particular the account, published in 1967 as I Fought the Apemen of Mount

St, Helens, WA, by his son Ronald A. Beck, adds some decidedly paranormal aspects to the story that many find troubling.

Beck's story begins with a prospecting trip to Mount St. Helens, Washington and an overnight stay in a cabin. After discovering a series of strange tracks, the prospectors were apprehensive, but nevertheless decided to stay on for another day of gold hunting. As the men settled into the cabin for dinner, they began to notice strange whistles coming from the surrounding woods. A whistle on one side of the cabin would be answered by a whistle from the other side, giving them the impression that the cabin was surrounded. They also heard strange booming or thumping sounds, like the sound of something beating itself on the chest.

Going to the spring to get water, Beck and another prospector saw one of the creatures and shot at it, only to have it run away down a little canyon. As it was fast becoming dark, they made their way back to the cabin in order to tell their bunk-mates the story. It was decided that they would spend the night in the cabin and then head for home as soon as the sun was up. About midnight the men were awakened by a loud noise. Something had knocked the chinking loose from between the logs of the cabin walls. Looking through the hole in the wall, Beck saw at least three of the creatures:

This was the start of the famous attack, of which so much has been written in Washington and Oregon papers through out the years. Most accounts tell of giant boulders being hurled against the cabin, and say some even fell through the roof, but this was not quite the case. There were very few large rocks around in that area. It is true that many smaller ones were hurled at the cabin, but they did not break through the roof, but hit with a bang, and rolled off. Some did fall through the chimney of the fireplace. Some accounts state I was hit in the head by a rock and knocked unconscious. This is not true.

The only time we shot our guns that night was when the creatures were attacking our cabin. When they would quiet down for a few minutes, we would quit shooting. I told the rest of the party, that maybe if they saw we were only shooting when they attacked, they might realize we were only defending ourselves. We could have had clear shots at them through the opening left by the chinking had we chosen to shoot. We did shoot, however, when they climbed up on our roof. We shot round after round through the roof. We had to brace the hewed-logged door with a long pole taken from the bunk bed. The creatures were pushing against it and the whole door vibrated from the impact. We responded by firing many more rounds through the door. They pushed against the walls of the cabin as if trying to push the cabin over, but this was pretty much an impossibility, as previously stated the cabin was a sturdy made building. (www. bigfootencounters.com)

The most frightening moment came when one of the creatures pushed his arm between the logs and into the cabin.

The creature managed to 4 one of the creatures grab h°ld of an ax, but Beck pushed his arm between the stopped the creature from taking it by turning the ax logs and . . . managed to head in such a way that it GRAB hold of AN AX }

would not fit between the logs. One can only imagine the kind of damage that might have been done to the cabin if the creature had managed to pilfer the ax. The attack stopped with daybreak. It was then that Beck spotted one of the creatures and fired upon it. It fell into a gorge, roughly 400 feet down. The men quickly made their way down the mountain.

After relating his account of the events of Ape Canyon, Beck then offers what he calls background information to the story. It is here that the story begins to take on the paranormal tone that has caused some investigators to discount the entire account:

In the first chapter I told about the attack, and now I want to go into the background, and tell a little concerning our activities. They will be colorful, and from them emerge a spiritual and metaphysical understanding of the case.

First of all, I hope this book does not discourage too much those interested souls who are looking and trying to solve the mystery of the abominable snowmen. If someone captured one, I would have to swallow most of the content of this book, for I am about to make a bold statement: No one will ever capture one, and no one will ever kill one - in other words, present to the world a living one in a cage, or find a dead body of one to be examined by science. I know there are stories that some have been captured but got away. So will they always get away.

Beck's certainty that the creatures will never be captured comes from his understanding that the creatures 'are not entirely of the world.' Throughout the attack, Beck insists, he was always aware that they were dealing with supernatural beings. He also insists that the other men in the cabin felt the same. Indeed, psychic methods had been used by the men to locate the mine:

Back in 1922 we found the location of our mine. A spiritual being, a large Indian dressed in buckskin, appeared to us and talked to us. He was the picture of stateliness itself. He never told us his name, but we always called him the Great Spirit. He replied once, 'The Great Spirit is above me. We are all of the Great Spirit, if we listen when the Great Spirit talks.'

There was another spiritual being which appeared to us - more in the role of a comforting friend, and we learned her name. One of our party suggested later that we name our mine after her; and so the mining claim we later filed bore her last name. The big Indian being told us there would be a white arrow go before us. Another man, who was not present during the attack in 1924, could see the arrow easily and clearly at all times. And I could see it nearly as well.

After following the white arrow for four days, things took a turn for the worse, however. One of the prospectors began to lose patience and cursed the spirit guide. When they finally reached the mine location, their spirit guide had some difficult words to share with them as a consequence:

We got a little closer, and we all saw the image of a large door open, and the big Indian appeared in front of it. He spoke: 'Because you have cursed the spirit leading you, you will be shown where there is gold, but it is not given to you.'

The apes of Ape Canyon were lesser forms of spirit, intent on keeping the prospectors from discovering the true riches of the mine.

Beck offers as evidence for his theory of the psychic origins of the creatures a series of footprints found on a sandbar in a creek. In the center of the sandbar, which was about an acre is size, Beck and his friends discovered two large bare footprints, four inches deep. They were the only tracks:

There we were standing in the middle of the sand bar, and not one of us could conceive any earthly thing taking steps 160 feet long. 'No human being could have made these tracks,' Hank said, 'and there's only one way they could be made, something dropped from the sky and went back up.'

There was no third step. This is certainly another indication of what I'm saying about manifestation.

Beck surmises that the Abominable Snowmen, as he calls them, come from a lower plane of reality than our own. When vibrations are at the proper frequency they may pass from one plane to another and appear as physical beings. These beings are not animal spirits, but they are also not human - they fall inbetween. They are 'the missing link in consciousness' between apes and humans. Their metaphysical nature explains why physical remains of the creatures have never been found.

Most theories picture the Snowmen as material beings hiding in caves, and scampering over the mountains. The law of probability would be that eventually one would be found if their bodies were of physical construction only. If one claims only the physical laws to explain their existence, then we can use a material logic to prove or disprove the premise. If they are material life definite material evidence would surely be found.

The mystery of the Sasquatch cannot, then, be solved through expeditions to the wood, but through human self-reflection and spiritual awakening. In order to solve the mystery we must 'break the little material shell' that surrounds us and seek a higher order in the spiritual realm. As Beck concludes:

I have lived this experience with Abominable Snowmen. I have encountered them on the slopes of Mount St. Helens. I have looked deep into myself to tell you of their nature.

I have had both the earthly experience of encountering them by Ape Canyon, and the spiritual experience of knowing and telling what they are.

I have walked through the messy cliffs of Ape Canyon, and seen a primeval loneliness, reminiscent of life as it must have been years ag°.

I have explored the distant future which beckons to us with hope. I have told you my story and it is true. Abominable Snowmen are a part of the creation. Will we hear much more from them? Will their habitat change from selected mountains to nearer our populous cities?

I think they will. They are just one little mystery from the ocean of mysteries.

1924 Ape Canyon

10. Bionic Bigfoot from space. Andre the Giant as Bigfoot in TV's The Six Million Dollar Man.

Far from being an aberration among Bigfoot accounts, the story of Ape Canyon would set the pattern for many paranormal interpretations of the creature to follow.

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