The Honey Island Swamp Monster of Louisiana

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Horror Mystery and Lore
Dark and spooky swampland
Photography by Anthony Roberts

Louisiana is rife with local folklore, particularly stemming from the untouched acres of the Honey Island Swamp just a short drive from New Orleans. These legends are of the pirates of the Bayou who were said to have hidden buried treasures, Native American ghosts, and the mysterious green lights that lure unsuspecting night travelers into the depths of the swamp, never to be seen again. These are just a few examples of all of the stories that are hidden in the unfathomable depths of the Louisiana swamps, which is home to the Honey Island Swamp Monster.

In August of 1963, Harlan Ford—a retired air traffic controller—was the first to catch sight of the bigfoot of the Bayou, having recently taken up wildlife photography. He described this seven-foot-tall, bipedal creature as being covered in grey hair, with yellow or red inhuman eyes set deep into its primatial face. The air hangs thick around this swamp monster, with an odor of rotting, decaying flesh—a smell so distinctive and disgusting that it would warn anyone of its presence.

The Honey Island Swamp Monster
Honey Island Swamp Monster

In 1974, the Honey Island Swamp Monster gained fame nationally, after Ford and his associate Billy Mills claimed to have found footprints that weren’t like any other creature in the area—these footprints according to myth, and a chance casting of a footprint found by these two men were at between ten to twelve inches long with three webbed toes, along with an opposable digit that was set much farther back than the others. Along with the luck of finding this footprint and casting it, they found the body of a wild board whose throat had been gashed open just a short way away. For the next six years, until his death in 1980, Ford continued to hunt for the creature—after his passing, a reel of Super 8 film was found among the belongings he had left behind, this film supposedly showed proof of the creature’s existence.

In the early twentieth century, before the first reported sighting of the Honey Island Swamp Monster by Ford, there was a legend of a traveling circus—traveling by train, a catastrophic wreck resulted in the escape of a group of chimpanzees. These chimpanzees were said to have gone deep into the swamps and interbred with the local alligator population. The Native Americans who called the area home, referred to the creature as the Letiche—they knew it as carnivorous, living both on land and in water—they believed this creature had originated as an abandoned child, raised by alligators in the darkest, most untouched regions of the swamp.

The Honey Island Swamp Monster caught on Super 8 Video footage

Researchers who have studied the lore of the Honey Island Swamp Monster, believe that it is related to Bigfoot—one reason that it is often referred to as the Bigfoot of the Bayou. While their description is similar, the tracks do not resemble those collected of Bigfoot from the Pacific North West. Despite the reputable nature of Ford and Mills, there have been a number of shows that have focused on hunting down the Honey Island Swamp Monster in order to prove the existence of this cryptid—all of them have come down on the side of the whole thing being a hoax, which isn’t entirely surprising.

Urban Legends: The UFO Sighting of McMinnville, Oregon

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Featured Horror Mystery and Lore

One of the most famous pictures of a UFO was taken in 1950 on a farm near McMinnville—this controversial photograph showed what looked to be a flying saucer in the sky and was even printed all across the country in both newspapers and magazines, including Life. The problem is, is that it has still not been disproved and there is still no one who really knows the truth of the photograph.

Timeline of Events and Investigation

1950

UFO Sighting 1950 - McMinnville, Oregon
Photography by Paul Trent

Between 7:30 and 7:45 pm in May, Evelyn Trent was out feeding their rabbits in the yard of the couple’s farm and saw “… a good-sized parachute canopy without strings, only silver-bright mixed with bronze,” which prompted her to yell for her husband. When her husband didn’t come out, she ran into their house to find him and their camera, before they both raced back into their yard. When Paul saw the object as well, later describing it as, “a round, shiny, wingless object,” that was hovering in the sky. Evelyn would later describe what they had saw that night, “as pretty as anything [she] ever saw.”

That night, the 43-year-old farmer was able to take two photographs before the flying object disappeared into the evening mist, and there has never been a more popular photograph to ever come out of Yamhill County. The images weren’t published until about a month after they were taken, because they wanted to finish off the roll before getting the images developed, in The McMinnville Telephone Register and The Oregonian. Life magazine followed up with publishing the story and images after the Oregon publications, which allowed the entire nation to marvel over the unidentified flying object. It didn’t take long for an investigator from the U.S. Air Force to make a trip to visit the Trents on their farm outside of McMinnville. “The object was coming toward us and seemed to be tipped up a little bit,” Paul Trent offered up to the investigations officer, “it was very bright—almost silvery—and there was no noise.”

This particular investigator had heard about these kinds of stories before, it was the Golden Age of UFO sightings, after all—however, most of all the other alien sightings had been easily debunked. Unlike the others, this was no weather balloon, private planes, or otherwise obvious hoaxes.

1965

In 1965, the Air Force finally found a legitimate university with a well-credentialed physicist, Edward Condon of the University of Colorado, who was willing to thoroughly study the matter.

1967

In 1967, Condon led an exhaustive UFO study and finally finished a 950-page report under the name, “Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects,” which dismissed most of the reported sightings, but then stated that, “at least one, showing a disk-shaped object in flight over Oregon, is classed as difficult to explain in a conventional way.” This study determined that the photos were genuine and that the Trents were honest in their reports.

Condon’s study declared that it was, “one of the few UFO reports in which all factors investigated—geometric, psychological and physical—appear to be consistent with the assertion that an extraordinary flying object, silvery, metallic, disk-shaped, tens of meters in diameter and evidently artificial, flew within sight of two [credible] witnesses.”

1968

When Condon’s report was released, it was firmly established by 1968 that UFOlogy was a border science that lay well outside of the mainstream sciences. His results were, of course, argued with, because UFO enthusiasts believed that if he had confirmed the existence of UFOs, then he would have ruined his reputation.

1998

Until both Evelyn and Paul passed away in the late 1990s (Evelyn in 1997 and Paul in 1998), they maintained that their story was genuine and even modern analysis doesn’t provide absolute results as to whether or not the images can be debunked. It seems that skeptics believe it’s a hoax, whereas believers assert that it’s evidence that cannot be discounted on the existence of UFOs. The only thing that has been proven over the years since the photograph was taken, is that even under intense scrutiny it can neither be definitively debunked nor confirmed.

2004

Researcher Joel Carpenter (1959-2014) attempted to recreate a plausible UFO picture on the Trents’ farm, but it was clear the picture was shot using optical illusions to make it seem as if a near object was actually in the distance.

2013

A group of French skeptics also did an in-depth investigation and attempted to recreate the photographs that the Trents had taken–their conclusion was that the original photographs were of a small model and not of an actual UFO.

Aliens in a Car
Photography by Miriam Espacio

What are your thoughts on this very long-survived UFO sighting that still refuses to be debunked with confidence? Do you believe that these 70-year-old pictures could possible be authentic, or are they the best surviving hoax that has ever been captured on film? Let us know your thoughts below!