Saturday, September 15, 2018

Ten years later, revisiting the first story on Weird Fresno

Ten years ago today I started something new. At that time Facebook wasn't the juggernaut it is today and Twitter was just taking off. Myspace still reined the interwebs and it seemed everyone and their mother had a blog, and Fresno was no exception. Inspired by the numerous blogs that were popping up I decided to create one about one of my biggest passions. The paranormal.

I didn't really know how to write then (some say I still don't) nor did I know how to research and my main source of any legend was the internet. Still I had something no one else did and little did I know how big it would get. So in honor of ten years of crazy weird things I wanted to revisit my first story. The Watts Valley Wolf Ape.

Before I get into the main sighting, and were the creature got it's name, a brief history of the legend of the creature is in order.

There are legends of the creature coming over the Bearing Straight when the first Native Americans migrated to this land and even coexisted with them and cave drawings that were found depicted a strange creature with long grey hair with an ape like face and human-like hands and feet. It also seemed to be always sick looking, coughing and foaming at the mouth for some reason. Legend calls it the Devil Ape or Devil Fang but with the last recorded sighting it started being called the Watts Valley Wolf Ape, named after where it was seen.

The first known sighting in the twentieth century was by the legendary photographer Ansel Adams. He was visiting Yosemite and while camping a pack of the creatures came upon his tent. Alone and terrified he stayed until they finally went away. 

Another, more terrifying story involves a lone creature entering a single room school house in the southern part of the valley (rumored to be near Hanford) and began harassing the students and teacher. To protect themselves the students piled up their desks and climbed to the safety of the rafters. The teacher was able to lock themselves safely in a nearby closet. Apparently the creature had smelled the children's lunches and tore through the desks to get them. When it finally had it's fill, it left. 

One of my favorite stories tells the tale of a local preacher that shot one of the creatures some time in the 1950's claiming it to be a "pet of Satan". He hung it up on the church walls. For several weeks it hung until the smell became too much. The preacher was able to sell it to a traveling circus. Here's the creepy part. With the money he made he went up to San Francisco dreaming of starting his own church up there. Sadly his dreams were not meant to be and he was murdered soon after arriving. His body was so badly disfigured that it took months to identify him. People whispered he was cursed for killing the creature.

Not much more was seen of the creature. A long haired creature was seen at Bass Lake in the 1990's. This could have been a bigfoot sighting (which is no less incredible) but the creature was said to walk on all fours, which was one of it's main characteristics. 



So I have to say that I heard this story on the radio (RIP KRZR 103.7) and was unable to find out who the witness was. I was able to write down most of the story and reconstruct it. I fixed the structure of the story so it reads better but it still is the same.


The most recent and detailed story was recanted on a local Fresno radio station. There were two witnesses, a man and his uncle, who were hunting for garnets near Watts Valley Cemetery when a strange looking creature came out of the bushes. The creature was described as six foot long, grey mangy hair and dog like with a face like a baboon and with eyes that were flat on its face like a human’s. It opened its mouth but only a moan escaped and then made a strange sound like a cough. Both witnesses began to run from the creature as it began to chase after them. For some reason the man threw his lunch at the creature but this only stopped it momentarily. It continued to chase them over the hills and the two witnesses jumped over fence after fence and ran through pastures trying to escape the creature. Cows fled as it chased the two men. Finally they found themselves in the Watts Valley Cemetery and hid behind several tombstones, hoping to lose the beast. Unfortunately it caught their scent and started to come towards them when, in a moment of genius, the uncle threw some cinnamon flavored chewing gum near the beast hoping the scent would distract it. It worked and the beast was momentarily occupied. Soon after that a caretaker for the small cemetery arrived and offered to give the two men a ride back to their car several miles away. All three watched the strange creature for a few more minutes in the safety of the caretaker’s truck before it went away.



The question remains, even after ten years, is what was this? Crazed dog, bigfoot, werewolf, or some freak genetic experiment run amok have all been theorized. I wish I knew. If the story is true then whatever they saw was terrifying. But I have to ask this: why haven't there been any more sightings since? If the history of the creature has even a kernel of truth to it you think there would have been more sighting since. I've never been to Watts Valley, though I do know the area. Part of me wants to take a trip up there one weekend and visit. I just have to make sure I bring some cinnamon gum to protect myself.


So that was my first story, pretty much how I originally told it. Just fixed up the grammar and structure a bit to let it read better. I can't believe I've been doing this for ten years now. I've wrote about everything from crazy things at Lost Lake, giant catfish at Millerton, UFO sightings all over Fresno, to ghosts haunting some of Fresno's most historic locations. Not sure what the next ten years will be but I can't wait to see what it will be. Thank you to everyone who has read one of my stories over the years. It truly means a lot.



Thursday, May 10, 2018

Winged creature described as a flying dinosaur seen in Fresno skies in 2007



Pterosaur skeletonThe fossilized skeleton of a pterosaur. A living specimen was said to have been seen flying over the Fresno area. Image courtesy of Flickr.

I’ve written about large winged creatures flying over the Fresno area in the past and most were described as large birds with near fifteen foot wingspans but while researching another something else I came across the story of Scott Norman, who in 2007, saw a creature flying in the Fresno area describing it as akin to looking like a flying dinosaur called a pterosaur.

Now Scott’s sighting wasn’t random. He had been informed of strange sightings in the area and during the summer of 2007 he came here to investigate for himself. He was a seasoned investigator by this point, traveling around the world investigating different cryptid claims.


His sighting occurred about 2:00 am in the morning in a local rancher’s field. He saw a large winged creature over one of the rancher’s buildings and out into the nearby field. The description of the creature was it had a wingspan of almost ten feet, was completely featherless with wings like that of a bat, and had a crest shaped object on its head roughly two feet long. The creature glided silently overhead and the entire sighting lasted no longer than 20 seconds the most. Ever the seasoned investigator, Scott was skeptical and wasn’t completely sure what he saw was indeed a pterosaur.


What interests me about this story is that this isn’t the first time a creature like this was seen in the area. Back in 1891 two creatures described as “dragons” were seen flying over the Selma area. The creatures were chased for two days but unfortunately were never captured. Could these same creatures have some relation to what Scott saw over a century later? Unfortunately this was the last time Scott was able to investigate these sightings as he passed away in February 2008. This is another reason why I wanted to share his story. He did a lot in his short time on this earth and I wanted to make sure others knew what he did.


You can find the original article that talks about Scott’s sighting in Fresno here and a brief description of the 1891 sighting here.


Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Phantom figure said to wander back roads of Madera

There is a story of a wandering phantom that is seen along the country roads outside of Madera. The location isn’t exact but most accounts have seen the spirit somewhere in between Ave 15 and Ave 18 1/2.

The first recorded sighting happened in January of 2010 when a witness and her husband were driving home to Clovis from Madera on Avenue 15. They were driving down the country road when the witness suddenly saw a man walking down the middle of the road and had to quickly swerve to avoid hitting him. The man seemed oblivious to almost being hit despite the fact that the car was going almost 60 miles per hour. The witness described the figure as Caucasian, in his early twenties, wearing a dark sweatshirt with a hood and blue jeans. After they passed him they hit a thick patch of fog and the man was nowhere to be seen. The witness notes that her husband didn’t see the man at all despite looking in the same direction as she and he was surprised by her sudden swerving of the car. Ever since that night the witness has refused to drive down that stretch of road when going home.

An incident occurred late winter of 2013, this time on Avenue 18. This witness was driving home around 3:00 am and it was somewhat foggy. They were driving down the road when out of nowhere a man wearing blue jeans and a hoodie was seen in the middle of the road. The witness swerved to avoid him and noticed that he didn’t even try to get out of the way, which she thought was odd. When this occurred they didn’t think much of it as they never saw anyone on that road before that late at night. It was only upon hearing that other people had seen the same figure in the area that they thought this wasn’t a normal person.

Another account involves two witnesses who were driving down Avenue 18 1/2 around 1:30am. As they were passing a church a young male, Caucasian and wearing blue jeans and a hoodie suddenly appeared about five feet in front of them. He was standing on the dividing line of the road and the driver missed him by inches as they swerved to avoid him. Despite being so close to him they were unable to see his face. As they drove past him, she looked back and he was no longer there.

There are more accounts like this with the same description of the man, late teens to early twenties, Caucasian and wearing blue jeans and a hooded sweatshirt. Some witnesses have also said he was wearing white tennis shoes, but this varies. Another common theme is how the man is oblivious to the oncoming car and is described usually as looking down. Also most of the incidents happened late at night and it seems all the witnesses are females.

So here’s the question. Who is he? Conjecture (which I’m great at) has me wondering if some young man was walking down one of these roads late one night and wasn’t paying attention (like he was looking down) and didn’t see the oncoming car and was hit and killed. Perhaps the person who hit him was a woman and this is why he seems to only appear to them. It’s hard to say without researching more, which I will be doing. But it does seem that some poor soul is doomed to wander the country roads outside of Madera.