Thursday, June 30, 1988
Area man recalls encounter with infamous Bigfoot monster.
By Joe Jones
Lawrenceville Daily Record
Bigfoot, Yeti, abominable snowman, Big Muddy Monster, the missing link.
Whatever the name, wherever the sighting, the description is basically the same – large, hairy, upright-walking creatures that continue to mystify and terrify.
While persons who swear they have seen the elusive beasts are sometimes brushed aside as kooks or over imbibers of distilled spirits, most are dead-sure of what they saw.
Darwin Hart, 50, Route 1, Claremont, recalls his experience as vividly as the night it happened – about 35 years ago – near Lawrenceville.
“There were five of us, two girls and three boys, going swimming in the gravel pits north of Lawrenceville,” Hart said from his residence in rural Richland County.
“We were in a 1952 Ford and were driving along a gravel road that led to the pits when this…thing…crossed the road in front of the car. We stopped, it stopped in front of our car’s headlights, and just stared.
“It made no sound and I don’t remember any particular odor. The thing was about seven or seven-and-a-half-feet tall and thin, not wide like a gorilla, and covered with brownish-gray hair. Its face was completely hair covered and the head was pointed. What I remember most was the length of its arms. They were very long and hung below the knee.”
Hart, who was about 15 at the time of the sighting, said the five went on to the pits and went swimming, but it was nearly 20 minutes before anyone brought up what they had seen.
“Someone, probably me, the ’mouth of the group,’ asked ’Did you see what I saw?,’” Hart said. “Everyone answered that they had. We weren’t really scared, but it was like we were all mesmerized and not quite sure of what had happened.”
After telling the story to his parents, Hart said many of his friends at school laughed off the sighting as a tall tale and he decided to keep the story quiet.
It was only after reading of recent sightings of the so-called Big Muddy Monster near Murphysboro that he consented to retell his story.
“I’m not crazy and I would stand on a stack of Bibles and swear to what I saw,” he added. “Others in the group could corroborate the story. I haven’t mentioned their names, only because I haven’t had contact with them for some time. Two live in Oklahoma and I’m not sure where two are now. But we all saw the same thing, whatever it was.”
Hart said the creature was no more than 20-30 feet from the vehicle and in plain view of the car lights.
“It crashed off into the woods and we went on and swam. That was a long time ago, but with all the sightings around, it makes you wonder if they live in pairs and if some offspring are still around. And it brings to mind that they must eat to survive. Are they vegetarians or meat-eaters?”
And do they still frequent the local gravel pits on nocturnal visits?