The Fouke Monster is a humanoid cryptid from the folklore of rural Arkansas.
According to folklore, the Fouke Monster lives in the Sulphur River bottom and creeks around Fouke, a small town in Miller County, southwest Arkansas.
The monster derived its name from Fouke, where the first alleged sightings occurred in 1971.
Since 1971, scores of people have reported encountering the monster in Miller County.
Reports of the monster continued in the 1990s and 21st century.
Eyewitnesses described the Fouke Monster as a Bigfoot-like or Sasquatch-like creature. Others said it was man-like (humanoid) or ape-like.
Folklore describes the Fouke Monster as a 7-foot-tall creature with a thick or shaggy coat, dark hair, and big red eyes. It has long arms almost touching the ground, walks on two legs, and weighs about 300 pounds.
But some eyewitnesses said it was about 10 feet tall and weighed 700-800 pounds.
Despite its size, the Fouke Monster is swift on its feet. It runs with a bounding gait and with its long arms flailing. People who had close encounters with the monster said it breathed heavily and a foul breath.
Many eyewitnesses added that it had a stinky skunk-like odor.
The creature left three-toed footprints on multiple occasions. Some accounts claimed the prints were 17 inches long and 7 inches wide.
The fact that most sightings occurred at night suggested it was a nocturnal animal.
Sightings and Tales
The Fouke Monster gained nationwide attention due to the extensive media coverage following the initial sightings in the 1970s.
Fame earned it a starring role in the 1972 docudrama horror film, The Legend of Boggy Creek.
Fouke Monster reports dated back to the 1850s
Although media accounts generally said the first reports of the Fouke Monster in Miller Country and environs occurred in 1971, locals claimed there had been reports of Bigfoot-like monsters roaming the area for years.
The first recorded references to a monster in the area date to the 1850s, when local and regional newspapers, such as the Memphis Enquirer, reported sightings.
Locals also shared stories about sightings in the 1940s-1960s when the creature was known as Joneseville Monster after a community near Fouke.
An incident in 1965 involved a Fouke teenager James Lynn Crabtree who reported seeing a 7-foot creature with reddish-brown hair that stood with its snout raised as if it was trying to catch a scent in the air. The beast was not hurt when the boy fired his shotgun.
Investigators dismissed the case as a brown bear encounter (Lou Farish, Arkansas Democrat, March 1981).
However, the sightings in May 1971 in Fouke attracted considerable attention in the local and national media.
Bobby and Elizabeth Ford
According to reports by local newspapers, such as the Texarkana Gazette and the Texarkana Daily News, Bobby and Elizabeth Ford of Jonesville (near Fouke) claimed the monster tried to break into their home on the night of May 2, 1971.
Bobby and Elizabeth said they had just moved into their new farmhouse when the terrifying encounter occurred.
Before that night, they had heard movements outside their home but had no idea what caused it.
On the evening of May 2, Bobby and his brother, Don, went hunting with a friend, Charles Taylor.
Elizabeth was resting on a couch when she noticed a hairy arm reaching through her window.
She first thought it was a bear but soon realized it was a hairy monster.
When she screamed, her husband and companions rushed to help. They saw the creature and fired shots at it. They were sure their bullets hit the monster. But there were no traces of blood when they later examined the ground outside the house.
However, the creature damaged the window while reaching inside. They also found claw marks on the porch and footprints around the house. The prints suggested the strange creature had only three toes.
Fouke Monster grabbed Bobby Ford
In another account, Bobby said he and his hunting companions sighted the creature in his backyard on May 2. They fired shots at it.
Bobby then heard his wife screaming in the house, so he abandoned the pursuit and rushed back to the house. But he encountered the creature on the way. It grabbed Bobby, but he broke free and ran into the house.
Bobby received treatment at St. Michael Hospital for minor scratches and mild shock after the incident, Texarkana Gazette reported.
His hunting companions also spotted the creature and fired several shots. Although they fired at it multiple times, there were no traces of blood around the house. Officers only found claw marks on the porch and three-toed footprints in the yard.
Fouke Monster left size 14EE footprints
On May 23, 1971, three residents D. C. Woods, Jr., Wilma Woods, and Mrs. R. H. Sedgass of Texarkana, claimed they saw a hairy bipedal creature walking across U.S. 71 highway.
In June 1971, a local farmer reported strange three-toed size 14EE footprints on his soy field (Associated Press, Scott Charton, July 20, 1986).
The sightings, including claims of monster footprints, have continued over the yearss. The most recent sightings, according to foukemonster.net, occurred in 2021.
Fouke Monster media coverage
Journalist Jim Powell, who broke the story of the Ford family attack in May 1971, dubbed the creature the Fouke Monster.
After Texarkana Gazette published the report, other local newspapers, including the Texarkana Daily News, published follow-up reports.
National and international media outlets, including the Associated Press, also covered the story.
Dave Hall, news director at Texarkana radio station KTFS, reported that when he visited the Ford family, he found them moving out of their new home.
Bob was in shock. He and his family had lived in the house for less than a week before the terrifying incident.
KAAY, a local radio station, offered a bounty of $1090 to anyone who could track or capture the creature, Texarkana Gazette reported.
A resident announced a $200 reward. According to the Associated Press, local authorities also offered a $10,000 reward (Scott Charton, AP, July 20, 1986).
Local vigilantes went out with dogs to track the monster.
As interest in finding the monster spread, police authorities became concerned that someone might get hurt if armed men roamed the county looking for a monster.
However, the excitement died down after weeks of fruitless search. People lost interest in the creature after there were no new reports.
Sightings in the 1980s and 1990s
Sporadic reports continued in the 1980s and 1990s in Miller County and neighboring counties in Arkansas.
One resident claimed they saw the monster leaping from a bridge.
A resident caught it checking his trout lines and thought it was attempting to steal his fish.
Someone reported seeing it wading through the Sulpher River, while another person said they saw the creature trying to break into a chicken coop.
The Legend of Boggy Creek docudrama
The Fouke Monster legend has inspired several movies.
The first and probably best-known was the low-budget docudrama horror, The Legend of Boggy Creek (August 1972).
The films, produced by Charles B. Pierce, reportedly netted $20 million on a $160,000 budget.
The success of the film earned the monster fame.
Other movie productions included follow-ups to the original 1972 film, such as Return to Boggy Creek (1977), Boggy Creek II: And The Legend Continues (1985), and Boggy Creek Monster (2016).
Debunking the Fouke Monster legend: Frank Schambach
Following the stir caused by the initial reports, experts and local police authorities became skeptical and believed the monster was a hoax by local pranksters.
Frank Schambach, an archeologist at Southern Arkansas University, examined the evidence regarding the Fouke Monster and concluded that the alleged tracks were a hoax (Scott Charton, July 20, 1986, AP).
He told the Associated Press that he never believed the monster existed because there were no higher primates besides humans in the North American continent.
He dismissed the reports as mass hysteria.
Schambach also noted other anomalies: For instance, if the monster was a primate, as eyewitness accounts suggested, a three-toed track was biologically impossible because all known primates have five toes.
Fouke town officials and police were also skeptical
Fouke town officials and police authorities also believed the tracks were a hoax or a prank.
Chief Deputy H.L. Phillips of the Miller County Sheriff’s Department told the Associated Press that he had stopped taking monster calls. His department also stopped keeping monster files.
He cited an incident involving a resident who claimed to have found the cave along Sulpher River where the monster lived.
Officers searched the cave and found no evidence of a resident monster.
He said he did not believe there was a monster but added he never argued with people who claimed they saw it because many honestly thought they saw something.
|Boggy Creek Monster, Swamp Stalker, Southern Sasquatch
|Countryside, Farmland, Marsh, River, Swamp