A beast commonly known as Bigfoot has called Whitehall, New York, home since before settlers arrived in the Adirondack Mountains.
A cryptid is a mythical or legendary animal, monster or creature yet to be accepted by mainstream science. Most beasts of folklore go by several names in several locations, and Bigfoot is no different. In southeastern Canada, northwestern U.S. and the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York, he’s called Sasquatch. In the Himalayas, he’s the Yeti, or Abominable Snowman. In pockets of southeastern U.S., including Florida, he’s the Skunk Ape. He’s the Yowie of Australia, the Yeren of China and the Ban-manush of Bangladesh.
While an overabundance of people claim to have seen Bigfoot, the vast majority of witnesses request to remain anonymous. Their sightings are shrugged off, as perhaps they should be. Yet several intelligent, logical people have reported seeing something they couldn’t explain that drew the name of Bigfoot (or its regional equivalent) from their lips.
Many of those sightings have been reported in the Adirondack Mountains since pre-Colonial days and continue today. During the summer of 1976 on a country road in the upstate New York town of Whitehall, civilians and police officers witnessed and pursued what is believed to have been the mythical Bigfoot.
As reported in Seth Breedlove’s 2016 documentary Beast of Whitehall, the sightings started with teenagers Marty Paddock and Paul Gosselin, who were driving on Abair Road one August night. When screams came from the trees, they stopped the pickup and got out to investigate. After finding nothing alarming, they walked toward the pickup, but curiosity forced them to return. Near the exact spot from which the screams had come, there stood an eight-foot-tall apelike creature. The teens ran for the truck and took off.
But once again, curiosity took over. With the help of a third friend, Bart Kinney, they returned for the second visual encounter of the night.
That’s when they made the best decision: contact the police.
Brian Gosselin, Paul’s older brother, was a Whitehall police officer on duty that night. He took his brother’s report but discovered the portion of Abair Road was not in his jurisdiction. That section of road belonged to the town of Hampton, so he contacted the New York state troopers, who sent a few officers to the scene.
Later that night on Abair Road, one of the state troopers spotted something and said, “What the f— is that?” A few troopers ran toward the commotion, where they found their fellow officer and helped scan the tree line where he’d seen the beast described by the teens.
The next night Officer Brian Gosselin was not on duty but decided to search the area with a state trooper friend. Gosselin searched the meadow off the road for a good hour. Over the radio, he heard his friend the state trooper say, “What is that? I’m heading outta here!” The state trooper left Gosselin alone to hear what sounded like tree branches snapping.
Gosselin returned to his nearby car and used a spotlight to light up the area. To his shock, Bigfoot approached, stopped and shielded his eyes from the beam of light. The cryptid let out a guttural scream and ran into the trees.
Now with multiple sightings, including those from state troopers and a village police officer, the Abair Road incident quickly became newsworthy. Soon the Whitehall area would be a known hotspot for Bigfoot activity.
Years later it came to be known that a year before, in 1975, multiple sightings of a Bigfoot creature were called in to state police: by a couple traveling north through Whitehall from New Jersey, by a local man named Arnold Mercier who witnessed the creature twice, and by a Mr. Jones of Whitehall. All four witnesses saw Bigfoot within a two-day-and-night period.
Over the years since the 1976 Abair Road sightings, many people in Whitehall and the Adirondack region have become believers in the existence of Bigfoot. Locals like Paul Bartholomew even research and write on the subject and record potential evidence, including hair and scat samples, temporary shelters, tracks and castings.
Though 1976 was the definitive year of the Whitehall Bigfoot, with the number of reports decreasing over time, an increase of Bigfoot sightings within the last five years drew television crews for Animal Planet’s Finding Bigfoot as well as Beast of Whitehall director Seth Breedlove to the area to conduct interviews and retrace the 1976 Abair Road incident.
Breedlove told Crixeo, “Apparently the spring of 2015 was super active for Bigfoot reports in the Whitehall area in general. It seems even Abair Road underwent a resurgence of Bigfoot activity with reports coming in around that area.”
With Breedlove’s help, I obtained two accounts of witness encounters.
Two hunters and their dog heard a guttural scream across a creek and spotted Bigfoot. While the two men stood in bewilderment, the dog ran. The hunters found the dog two miles away, cowering under their truck.
Another recent report, from a Native American man who wishes to remain anonymous, states that during a prayer circle, “Lightning struck the earth over and over and then, all of a sudden a beautiful white Bigfoot appeared.” According to his account, the female cryptid “had big breasts and spoke telepathically.”
With the reappearance of Bigfoot, Sasquatch or any other of the many names we may use for this apelike creature, the Adirondack Mountains are sure to continue to make headlines in local and national cryptozoological news. Whether we’re believers or skeptics, we must all respect one thing: the law in Whitehall, New York: