On February 14, 2002 two brothers (Steve & Dennis Gates), in the area of the Waynesboro, PA reservoir / treatment plant, discover over 300 unusual tracks that trek the distance of the reservoir. The location is within the Michaux State Forest in the South Mountain area. The East Branch Antietam Creek flows nearby...and the Appalachian Trail is very close as well.
The discovery of the tracks grabs the attention of the media (mostly local), PA Game & Wildlife officials and several hundred curiosity seekers. No Bigfoot were sighted or reported. Tracks continued to be found nearby for the next 2 years. The Michaux State Forest, as a whole, is an area of high interest for Bigfoot investigators. Here are a few of the media reports:
WAYNESBORO, Pa. — The footprints are there, deep in the muck on both sides of the creek.
They run for about 300 yards. There are 40 or more of them, said Mike Hilton, 28, of South Mountain. "I was skeptical at first until I seen them," Mr. Hilton said Monday night as he led the way through the darkness into the Waynesboro Reservoir, to investigate the tracks left in the mud.
The footprints — if that's what they are — are about 13 inches long and 6 inches wide. They have a rounded heel like a human's, but spread out into what looks like a set of five dangerous claws.
They are sunk about 4 or 5 inches in the mud, indicating some weight was behind whatever made them.
Mr. Hilton said they were discovered by his co-worker Steve Gates a few days ago.
Mr. Hilton won't venture to say what he thinks made the footprints — prankster or monster.
But, he said as he illuminated the tracks with a flashlight, "Tell me that ain't a big foot." Deb Brownley, of Fairfield, Pa., was taking photos under the light. "I'm a wildlife biology major and I've never seen anything like it," said Ms. Brownley. "It's kind of almost looks like an ape's foot — only bigger," Mr. Hilton said. Ms. Brownley was taking pictures of the prints that hadn't been tampered with, as well as those tracks that are filled with plaster. Mr. Gates is making the plaster casts, in order to verify what he found, Mr. Hilton said. "If it was me, I'd make one just to say I saw it," he said. "I never seen anything like it before in my life," Mr. Hilton said.
Mr. Hilton said an investigator of unusual phenomena from the state of Washington has been called in and is expected to arrive within a few days. Both Mr. Gates and Mr. Hilton are employees of Quebecor Printing in Fairfield. - The Frederick News-Post - Tuesday, February 19, 2002
WAYNESBORO, Pennsylvania. - The mysterious footprints left in a nearly dry reservoir bed are starting to fade, but the debate over their origin lingers on.
Steve Gates and his brother Dennis found the prints on Valentine's Day, just before dark. They had gone to the Waynesboro reservoir to see a reported 13-foot drop in the water level for themselves. "We been in the mountains ever since we were kids," Mr. Gates, 28, said. "We never seen nothing like this, never." What they saw was a set of footprints running on both sides of a slow moving creek. He estimates they go for about 400 yards and there are about 300 to 400 of them. The prints are about 13 inches long and 6 inches wide. They have a rounded heel and spread out into what looks like a set of five long claws.
One of the digits presumably the big toe sticks out prominently to the side. That characteristic may prove to be an important clue in determining their origin, according to one researcher.
Mr. Gates said night was closing in when they found the prints. "Truthfully, I had an eerie feeling," he said about walking out of the reservoir. "I had chills all over me."
They went back Friday and videotaped the prints, then showed the tape to their brother-in-law, Paul Scott. "I watched the video and the hairs stood up on the back of my neck," Mr. Scott, 42, said. Mr. Scott, a man with 35 years hunting experience, also said he'd never seen anything like them before. "What could
it possibly be?"
On Sunday, they contacted Jeffrey Lemley, a noted Bigfoot researcher who lives in Washington state. Unable to make it himself, Mr. Lemley mobilized several volunteers.
Mr. Gates said the team was baffled by what they found. "They couldn't understand it, they said it wasn't characteristic of Bigfoot." The problem, it seems, is that Bigfoot doesn't have a big toe that sticks out to the side.
"The hallux sticking out to the side shows they are nonhuman," said Loren Coleman about the prints. Hallux, Mr. Coleman said, is the scientific term for big toe. The footprints are much smaller than Bigfoot's, and are more likely an artifact of something he calls a "Nape," or North American Ape. The Nape, also known as a Skunk Ape in parts of the South, is generally not taller than 5 feet, he said. - The Frederick News-Post - Tuesday, February 20, 2002
WAYNESBORO, PA, Feb. 21 - A well-known legend was drawing crowds of people to one local reservoir, but what seemed like a harmless outing was raising some concerns. At Waynesboro's Water Treatment Plant, they are already facing a major water shortage and now they said Bigfoot could potentially make things worse.
Officials were asking people to refrain from going down to the reservoir to look for these footprints. They say while it may seem harmless, it could really hurt the water supply. Is it a hoax or the real thing? Could Bigfoot really be in Waynesboro? "I'm a little skeptical," stated Stanley Wetzel. "I didn't believe it at all. I thought it was a hoax from the start," commented Waynesboro Operations Manager, Gordon Cruickshanks.
About 300 footprints were first spotted on Valentine's Day near the north end of the reservoir off Old Forge Road. Since then, hundreds of people have visited the site. But as water levels in the reservoir reached an all time low, there was no room to fool around. "Our main concern from our standpoint was the influx of people into the reservoir area just with trash and other contaminants, because it is a public water supply," stated Cruickshanks.
While Franklin County is dealing with its own mandatory water restrictions, officials there said every drop was needed. So when a Bigfoot research organization recently came out to put an end to the mystery, officials were thrilled.
"It's deemed to be a hoax or not real," replied Cruickshanks. So if you're thinking about going down there to see if those footprints are really Bigfoot's, you
might want to save yourself the trip. - NBC25 News
NOTE: If you go online, you'll find other comments concerning these tracks...most by Bigfoot and cryptid researchers. Personally, I've been critical of these tracks...though I have rarely expressed my concerns. There are many enthusiasts within the Bigfoot community (some are friends) who believe that these tracks were genuine.
I will acknowledge that I've seen convincing evidence of Bigfoot in southcentral Pennsylvania...in particular Franklin, Adams, York and Cumberland counties. I must also include Allegheny, Washington, Carroll & Baltimore counties in Maryland, since much of the Bigfoot range extends south into the Maryland mountains and piedmont. Lon
Beginner's Guide to Bigfoot Research
Silent Invasion: The Pennsylvania UFO-Bigfoot Casebook
Monsters of Maryland: Mysterious Creatures in the Old Line State
Monsters of Pennsylvania: Mysterious Creatures in the Keystone State