for National Geographic News
In 1994 Craig Woolheater and his wife were driving at night from New Orleans to Dallas, Texas. Somewhere in the swampy woods near Alexandria, Louisiana, he saw something at the side of the road. It was covered with hair, about seven feet tall, and walked on two legs.
"Did you see what I saw?" he asked his wife.
"Yes," she said, and they concluded that while they couldn't prove it, the most likely explanation was that they'd seen the creature once known to the Indians as the wild man or the lost giant.
In other words, he says, they'd seen Bigfoot, or the "Woolly Booger," as he's sometimes called in these parts.
"People think that Bigfoot is a Pacific Northwest phenomenon," said Woolheater, who is now director of the Texas Bigfoot Research Center outside of Dallas. "But there have been sightings in every state of the Union except Hawaii."
"Here in Texas," he added, "We have 22 million acres (9 million hectares) of forestland. In the four-state region [Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana] there are 65 million acres [26,000,000 hectares]. That's equivalent to the entire state of Oregonnot just the forest, but the entire state [much of Oregon is desert]."
"We have hundreds of eyewitness reports, footprint casts, hair samplesjust as in the Pacific Northwest," Woolheater said.
(Related news: "Forensic Expert Says Bigfoot Is Real" )
Texas and neighboring states have a long history of sightings.
Local Native American lore is replete with legends of giant, shaggy men. Sightings by white settlers date back to the "Wild Woman of the Navidad," a Bigfoot-like creature reportedly observed in 1837 along the Navidad River near the present-day town of Victoria, Texas.
Other 19th-century reports describe oversize, barefoot footprints and a creature covered in short, brown hair. The beast, it was said, moved quickly enough to elude efforts to lasso it from horseback.
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