Summer Guide - The legend of the Sasquatch
Expedition Bigfoot brings the mystery to life
The creature goes by many names in the Southeastern United States: Wood Booger, Skunk Ape, Sasquatch. But most people simply know it as Bigfoot. The large and elusive forest-dwelling creature has been spotted roaming remote locations from the Himalayas to Peachtree City, leaving behind only massive footprints.
The name is steeped in mythology and hoaxes that have played out in B movies, and tales of harrowing encounters. The scientific community has confirmed no physical evidence proving Bigfoot’s existence, but the mystery lives on as eyewitness accounts are reported every year.
On a stretch of Highway 515 in Cherry Log, Georgia, David Bakara and his wife Malinda have built a monument to this great unsolved mystery with a museum they’ve christened Expedition Bigfoot. The 4,000-square-foot former bar is now a repository dedicated to the legend of the Sasquatch. It’s filled with exhibits, videos of eyewitness testimonials, listening stations, artwork, plaster casts of footprints, and more. There’s even a giant replica of the beast named Raven lurking in one the museums’ main show rooms.
JOEFF DAVIS KNOCK KNOCK: An exhibit at Expedition Bigfoot depicts the story of Ape Canyon, which museum co-founder David Bakara says is one of the most convincing pieces of Bigfoot lore.
JOEFF DAVIS FINDING BIGFOOT: Tourists watch videos of eyewitness Bigfoot testimonials. Raven, an 8-foot tall Sasquatch re-creation, built by Manchester, Ohio, police officer Darrin Mingee, lurks in the pines.
Expedition Bigfoot showcases humankind’s fascination with the shifty beast. “My wife and I love museums, and we noticed that there just weren’t that many things for people to do when they come up here,” David says. “So we thought, let’s open up our own museum. We really just wanted to make a place where families could bring their kids to have fun, use their imaginations, maybe learn something about the environment, and learn about one of the greatest legends of all time.”
David says everyone from college students from nearby Young Harris to traveling couples to parents dragged there by their kids show up every day.
As a young boy growing up in Michigan, David’s Bigfoot fascination was sparked when he and his brother watched the 1972 documentary-style horror film The Legend of Boggy Creek. In the film, residents of Fouke, Arkansas, have an ape-like monster living among them. The story was unlike anything David had ever encountered, and he’s been hooked ever since. Over the years he’s worked as a Bigfoot researcher in both Florida and Georgia.
“It affected my brother and I very deeply,” David says. “It was those words at the beginning that really got us: ‘This is a true story.’ Back in those days, when they said a story was based on true events, it was pretty much true.”
Expedition Bigfoot opened in February. As a roadside attraction, the museum has no shortage of Bigfoot ephemera to show off, including a cast of a footprint made near Elkins Creek in Pike County, Georgia — considered by self-proclaimed Bigfoot experts to be an important piece of evidence due to its alleged dermal ridges.
JOEFF DAVIS WOOD BOOGER: The Sasquatch goes by many names throughout the Southeast: Swamp Monkey, Skunk Ape, Bigfoot, and more.
JOEFF DAVIS AMERICAN LORE: The outside logo at Expedition Bigfoot beckons to travelers on Highway 515 to take a break and learn about one of the greatest mysteries of all time.
The museum is a work in progress. In one room, David is building a life-size model of a shack where a character in The Legend of Boggy Creek lived. Inside will be a listening station playing field recordings of howling Sasquatches.
The new installation sits next to another recently built exhibit that re-creates a scene from a story that David calls one of the most convincing pieces of Bigfoot lore: The story of Ape Canyon. In 1924, according to legend, hunters accidentally shot a Sasquatch on a trip into rural Washington state. That night their cabin was attacked by several Sasquatches.
As David recounts the story, he seems overcome with a sense of childlike wonder. It’s clear that Expedition Bigfoot is a lifelong dream come true for him.
“In this day and age where everything is laid out, predictable, and two-dimensional, this is a mystery that just keeps giving,” he says. “It never gets any closer to being solved, and when you think you’re close to knowing the answer you realize you’re no closer than you were 10-15 years ago. That’s what keeps researchers and investigators — people from all walks of life — coming back.”