Bigfoot – Nestled in the captivating Pacific Northwest, Ape Cavern enthralls visitors with its breathtaking vistas of majestic mountains and lush forests, providing a secluded and awe-inspiring escape into nature’s rugged beauty. The deep gorge and winding river, complemented by the ever-changing colors of the seasons, create an enchanting and dynamic natural masterpiece.
In 1891, the serene area witnessed the arrival of two adventurous German immigrant farmers on a fishing and hunting expedition. To their astonishment, they stumbled upon evidence of precious metals, igniting a fervent mining rush that led to the establishment of the Green River mining district in 1892. As the demand grew, the district underwent a name change to St. Helens, overseeing the surge of mining claims in the region.
Then, in 1924, Ape Cavern took center stage for an extraordinary event and thus the name. A group of intrepid miners claimed to have encountered large, hairy creatures near Mount St. Helens in Washington state. The account unfolded as a battle between the gold prospectors and the alleged “gorilla men” or bigfoot creatures, adding a mysterious and legendary element to the already captivating landscape.
Fred Beck: The leader of the mining group, a seasoned prospector, and a hunting enthusiast.
Marion Smith: A fellow prospector and member of the group.
Gabe Lefever: Another prospector and a friend of Beck and Smith.
John Peterson: A relative newcomer to the mining group.
Marion’s brother: A fifth member of the group, whose name is sometimes omitted from the accounts.
Event Timeline – late June 1924
The five miners had set up camp in Ape Canyon to prospect for gold and other valuable minerals in the area. The location was a remote and rugged spot on the southern slope of Mount St. Helens.
At some point the leader of the prospectors, Fred Beck, had an initial encounter with a strange hairy creature potentially triggering a coordinated attack later that night. The story goes Fred and one of his men walked to a spring, about a hundred yards from our cabin, to get some water, and it was suggested to take their rifles — to be on the safe side. During the walk someone yelled and raised his rifle, and at that instant, a hairy creature was seen, was about a hundred yards away, on the other side of a little canyon, standing by a pine tree. It dodged behind the tree, and poked its head out from the side of the tree. And at the same time, three shots were fired and bark from the bullets blast flew out from the tree where the creature stood. The ape man was said to have been very tall with blackish-brown hair. It disappeared from view for a short time, but then the men saw it, running fast and upright, about two hundred yards down the little canyon. Beck shot three times before it disappeared from view.
That evening, the group claimed to have seen a group of large, hairy, human-like creatures approaching their cabin. All of the creatures were described as towering over seven feet tall and covered in dark, matted hair. The miners noted that they looked more like apes or gorillas than any known animal. Terrified the men barricaded themselves inside their cabin. Throughout the night, they claimed the creatures pounded on the walls and threw rocks attempting to break in. During the intense encounter, amidst a gap in the knocked-out in the wall, one of the creatures managed to slip its arm inside the cabin and grasp an axe that had been leaning against the wall. In a daring move, Beck lunged forward, wresting the axe from the bigfoot grip, preventing it from swinging wildly or pulling the weapon back outside. Seeing an opportunity, Marion Smith took a shot at the creature’s arm, forcing it to release the axe and retreat its arm from within the cabin. The courageous group retaliated by firing back at the attackers, managing to survive until dawn when the creatures retreated into the surrounding woods.
The next morning, fearing for their lives, the men decided to escape from the area. Fred Beck, in scanning the surroundings, caught sight of one of the towering Bigfoot creatures standing at the edge of what would later be known as Ape Canyon.
Reacting swiftly, Beck took aim and fired at the bigfoot, which, according to accounts, tumbled down into the depths of the gorge below. The shot echoed through the rugged landscape, and the other creatures, seemingly startled, retreated into the shadows of the forest, putting an end to the night of terror. The miners described an eerie, eerie silence in the woods as they retreated.
After several days, the miners finally made it back to the town of Kelso, Washington. They were visibly shaken and reported their harrowing encounter to local newspapers and law enforcement. After the incident, Fred Beck returned to the scene accompanied by U.S. Forest Service rangers to investigate further. However, no Sasquatch bodies were found, and the rangers remained skeptical about the evidence presented by the miners. They questioned the authenticity of the large stones near the cabin and the footprints, suspecting that these might have been placed or made by humans.
Tragically, on May 18th, 1980, Mount St. Helens erupted, claiming the lives of 57 people. The catastrophic event unleashed a devastating ash cloud, mudslides, and a partial collapse of the mountain’s flank, resulting in the total obliteration of all cabins and structures in the vicinity. The very location of the Ape Canyon attack, along with the cabin was buried beneath the overwhelming forces of nature.
Publicity and Skepticism:
Today, Ape Canyon remains a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, hikers, and those interested in cryptozoology. The site of where the historic cabin once stood is a point of interest for visitors who want to explore the mystery of the iconic 1924 incident. This epic story has gained widespread publicity and became a hot topic of discussion in newspapers and among the public. Some people believed the miners’ account, while others were skeptical and considered it a hoax or a misinterpretation of a natural event. It has been argued that the miners might have fabricated the story for attention or to promote their mining activities. Yet several suggested that the creatures were likely bears, and the miners had exaggerated their size and behavior due to fear and panic.
Regardless of the doubters, the Ape Canyon Incident became a cornerstone of Bigfoot lore and contributed to the popularization of the Sasquatch legend. The event has been retold in various books, documentaries, for almost 100 years, further fueling interest in the search for evidence of the elusive creature.