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.



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