Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Old Man of the Crater

I first saw this story as an excerpt on one of Regan Lee's excellent paranormal sites, 'Frame 352'. (

The excerpt was short, but so tantalizing insofar as it appears to be a very detailed descriptive of a highly strange bigfoot encounter in the year 1895 on the summit of Mt. Rainier.  What follows is the entire account, as written by Major E.S. Ingraham, an educator and well-known mountaineer who helped to establish the park itself.

I found the the story in full in the book 'The Challenge of Rainier' by Dee Molenaar.

The Old Man of The Crater
Major E.S. Ingraham

While my companion and I were exploring the steam-caves at the time of my second visit to the crater of Mt. Rainier, I noticed peculiar marks and scratching on the floor of the cave. In some places the ground appeared as though it had been the scene of a conflict between some maddened beasts, so extensive was the disturbance. In other places there were depressions that might have been made by some flat-footed animal pawing in the earth. My curiosity was deeply excited. The lower we descended into the cave, the more frequent by less marked became those scratching. As the sunlight from without became dim, I noticed peculiar, soft glow in the atmosphere of the cave, hardly perceptible, that might have been produced by either light or heat, but it was probably brought about by the presence of some force more subtle than either.  I also felt a peculiar sensation of the body, such as the pole of an electrical machine slightly charged. Whether my companion noticed these startling phenomena I do not know. If he did, he like myself, remained silent upon the subject.  The situation was extremely interesting to one of a scientific mind and invited investigation; but I suggested to my companion a return to the outer world. Within my own mind I had decided to revisit the cave alone later.

Late at night, when my three bed-fellows were sound asleep, I cautiously crawled from under the scanty covering and was soon in the cave again. While it was intensely dark within and cold without, the warmth of the steam-cave soon restored my benumbed body to an unusual degree of comfort and my sleepy senses resumed and unwonted activity. Slowly groping my way along the floor of the cave I was soon within the influence of the mysterious glow I had noticed upon my first descent. The situation was weird and startling. Midnight in a crater!
The vaulted sky above you the only familiar object, with the hot rocks ans hissing steam around you suggesting what once was and what may be again; to leave my sleeping companions and the last familiar object, to descend toward the source of the heat and steam, to go down, down toward the earth's hot interior, all tended to try my nerves and fill my mind with strange forebodings.

While my prudence and caution would be me return to my companions and leave the mysteries of the cave unsolved, I still cautiously groped my way onward. The sense of feeling became strangely acute. I could readily keep in the center of the cave by extending my hand to either side and noting change of temperature caused by the adjacent ice walls. The mysterious influence of a still more mysterious force enabled me to know my surroundings quite distinctly. As before stated, these steam-caves seem to radiate from the center of the crater, a single passage branching into two or more as it nears the rim of the crater. I had reached a point where another passage joined, or more properly separated from the one I was following, when I was startled by a noise, followed by several stones rolling down the tributary passage. Had my companion of the first visit noticed the mysterious things I had, and was he like myself, seeking to discover thier cause? I quickly stepped within a recess the wall of ice on my left and awaited developments.

I had not long to wait, for almost immediatly there came, now rolling, now making an attempt to crawl, a figure of strange and grotesque appearance, down the passage. It stopped within a few feet of me, writhing and floundering very much as a drowing man would do, when drawn from the water he was about to sink for the last time. It's shape was nearer that of a human being than of any other animal. The crown of it's head was pointed, with bristled hair pointing in every direction. The eyeballs were pointed, too; and while they appeared dull and visionless at times, yet there was an occasional flash of light from the points, which increased in frequency and brilliancy as the owner began to revive. The nails of it's fingers and toes were long and pointed and resembled polished steel more than hardened cuticle.

I discovered that the palms of it's hands and the soles of it's feet were hard and calloused. In fact, the whole body, while human in shape, except the pointedness of the parts I have mentioned, seemed very different in character from that of the human species. There was nothing about the mysterious being, however, that would make it possible that it's ancestry of long ages ago might have been human beings like ourselves. Yet by living in different surroundings and under entirely different conditions, many of it's characteristics had changed.

By degrees this strange being began to revive. Gradually an electric glow covered the entire body wiht light-centers at the ends of those pointed nails, the eyes and the top of the head. It seemed to accomplish it's revivification by rubbing it's hands vigorously together. As soon as it was able to stand, it began to rub it's feet rapidly upon the floor of the cave. This increased the glow of it's body and caused the light-centers to shine with increased brilliancy. It seemed to receive some vital fluid from th earth that at once gave new vigor to it's whole system. Involuntarily I imitated it's actions and immediately found myself undergoing a very peculiar sensation. I seemed to be growing in accord with the strange being who then for the first time noticed my presence. He at once redoubled his former movements. He would rub his hands vigorously together and then quickly extend the points of his fingers in my direction when sparks of light would dart therefrom.

Having become deeply interested in this strange exhibition, I went through the same manoeuver with a similar result although apparently in a much lesser degree. The effect was magical! I was becoming en rapport with the Old Man of the Crater! I could see a brilliant point of light gradually forming on the crown of his head. Feeling my own hair beginning to rise, I removed my knit cap and felt my hair bristling upward to a common point. The light from his crown seemed to form an arch above and between us and WE WERE IN COMMUNICATION. There, in that icy passage connecting the unknown interior of this earth with the exterior, by means of a new medium, or rather an old medium newly applied, two intelligent beings of different races were enabled to communicate, imperfectly at first of course, with each other.

For an hour I received impressions from the Old Man of the Crater. It is a strange story I got from him. While the time was comparatively short, yet what he told me, not by voice or look, but by a subtle agency not known or understood by me, would fill a volume of many pages. Finally expressing doubt at what he communicated, he commanded me to follow him. I had anticipated such a demand and was ready to resist it. So when he turned to descend, to the hot interior of the earth as I verily believe, by a superhuman effort I broke the spell and hastened upward and back to my sleeping companions.

This is no myth. The old man told me of his abode in the interior, of another race to which he belonged and the traditions of that race; of convulsions and changes on the earth long, long ago; of the gradual contraction of a belt of matter around the earth until it touched the surface hemming in many of the inhabitants and drowning the remainder, and of the survival of a single pair. All was shut out and the atmosphere became changed. Gradually this remaining pair was enabled to conform to the new order of things and became the parents of a race which for want of a better name I will call Sub-Rainians. This old man of the Crater had wandered far away from the abode of his race in his desire to explore. Far away from my home we had met, each out of his usual sphere.
Source: Dennett, Preston, FATE Magazine May 2001, Early American Mountain Bigfoot: An Explorer's Account of Sasquatch on Mount Rainier.


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