A beast commonly known as Bigfoot has called Whitehall, New York, home since before settlers arrived in the Adirondack Mountains.
A cryptid is a mythical or legendary animal, monster or creature yet to be accepted by mainstream science. Most beasts of folklore go by several names in several locations, and Bigfoot is no different. In southeastern Canada, northwestern U.S. and the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York, he’s called Sasquatch. In the Himalayas, he’s the Yeti, or Abominable Snowman. In pockets of southeastern U.S., including Florida, he’s the Skunk Ape. He’s the Yowie of Australia, the Yeren of China and the Ban-manush of Bangladesh.
While an overabundance of people claim to have seen Bigfoot, the vast majority of witnesses request to remain anonymous. Their sightings are shrugged off. Yet several intelligent, logical people have reported seeing something they couldn’t explain that drew the name of Bigfoot (or its regional equivalent) from their lips.
Many of those sightings have been reported in the Adirondack Mountains since pre-Colonial days and continue today. During the summer of 1976 in the upstate New York town of Whitehall, civilians and police officers witnessed what is believed to have been the mythical Bigfoot.
On the crystal-clear, cool night of August 19, 1976, police officer Brian Gosselin was on duty when two gentlemen pulled up to the side of his patrol car and said they’d seen some kind of a creature on Abair Road. “They were dead serious,” recalls Gosselin. He and another officer drove their patrol cars out into the field, which Gosselin describes as being “dead quiet.” Suddenly the other officer yelled, “Jesus Christ! What the f— is that? … I’m getting the f— out of here,” and sped his patrol car away.
Gosselin says he heard branches breaking and whooshing noises in the grassy field. “My skin was crawling, my hair was standing on end, and I knew there was something coming at me, toward me. It wasn’t avoiding me.” Gosselin got out of the car, held his .357 in his hand with the hammer pulled back. He turned on his spotlight. He says he saw “a creature, seven, seven and a half, eight feet tall, 400 pounds, hairy.” He recalls, “What impressed me the most when I hit it with the spotlight was red eyes…” He says, “It brought hands — not paws — brought hands up and covered its face. I can remember, etched in my mind, it let out such a bloodcurdling, deep-toned screech.”
The creature turned to leave, moving quickly with its long legs. Gosselin just stood in place and watched, his life flashing before his eyes. After the creature got to the end of the field, it vocalized again.
The Abair Road incident, which Brian and Sue Gosselin have now chronicled in the book Abair Road: The True Story, quickly became newsworthy and the Whitehall area would be a known hotspot for Bigfoot activity.
Years later it came to be known that a year before, in 1975, multiple sightings of a Bigfoot creature were called in to state police: by a couple traveling north through Whitehall from New Jersey, by a local man named Arnold Mercier who witnessed the creature twice, and by a Mr. Jones of Whitehall.
Over the years since the 1976 Abair Road sightings, many people in Whitehall and the Adirondack region have become believers in the existence of Bigfoot. Cryptozoologist Dr. Warren Cook collected research that he passed on to Paul Bartholomew when he died.
Bigfoot sightings have drawn television crews for Animal Planet’s Finding Bigfoot as well as Beast of Whitehall director Seth Breedlove to the area to conduct interviews and retrace the 1976 Abair Road incident.
With Breedlove’s help, I obtained another account of a witness encounter.
Two hunters and their dog heard a guttural scream across a creek and spotted Bigfoot. While the two men stood in bewilderment, the dog ran. The hunters found the dog two miles away, cowering under their truck.
With the reappearance of Bigfoot, Sasquatch or any other of the many names we may use for this apelike creature, the Adirondack Mountains are sure to continue to make headlines in local and national cryptozoological news. Whether we’re believers or skeptics, we must all respect one thing: the law in Whitehall, New York:
Article corrected and updated February 5, 2018.