On a warm July day in 1924, five miners working the hillsides of Mt. St. Helens stumbled upon something otherworldly. An encounter with creatures that defied logic or reason. A chance encounter with tall, human-like ape men that stalked the miners. Communicating with chest-thumps and an eerie whistling, the “ape men” had been observing the men for a few days without their knowledge. Only when one of the men spotted one of the creatures and fired a shot did they made themselves be seen. The incident on Ape Canyon was to be one of the earliest, best documented Sasquatch encounters in modern history.
Strange Tracks & Sounds
Fred Beck was one of the five miners that hiked up the mountains on that warm July day. According to him, the day started off like any other prospecting day. The men were up at the crack of dawn and usually worked until the sun began to set. On this particular day, one of the men came across a set of odd foot prints on a sand bar that at first looked human, but as he got closer, found that they measured nineteen inches in length and were anything but human. Perturbed by the finding, Hank ran back to the camp to inform the others of what he had come across. He told them that he found the tracks on the sand bar in the middle of a small river that the men had used to wash their belongings and to get drinking water from. The men followed Hank back to the river and found the tracks still there. They described the tracks to being nineteen inches long, four inches deep in the sand. However, upon inspection of the area, the men noticed that those were the only two foot prints in the sand and they were in the middle of the sand bar. As if whatever had made those prints, had taken a huge, 160 foot step on to the middle of the bank. Hank stated “No human being could have made these tracks, and there’s only one way they could be made, something dropped from the sky and went back up.” The men were under the impression that whatever large creature made the prints, it seemed to have appeared and disappeared into thin air.
According to Fred, what really put the men on edge were the sounds they began to hear in the woods days after their discovery. Loud thumping sounds that echoed through the forest, as if someone or something was beating its chest. These sounds were followed by a loud, shrilling whistling noise that made the experienced miners shake in their boots. They described the whistling as being all around them. Coming from one ridge not too far away, only to be answered by another whistle from a different ridge. An obvious two-way communication that the men became privy to.
Too frightened to go alone, Hank had asked Fred to accompany him to a nearby spring to refill their canteens. As the men approached the spring, Hank yelled out and pointed his rifle into the distant trees. That’s when Fred saw a tall, hairy creature by some trees. It stood next to a pine tree about a hundred yards from them, on the opposite side of a small canyon. According to the men, the creature quickly dodged behind the pine tree, poking its head out from the side of the tree from time to time. Hank shot at it and Fred could see the bark flying off the tree, as the bullet had almost hit the creature. Standing to be about seven feet in height and covered in blackish/brown hair, the creature jumped from behind the pine and ran down the canyon. It ran upright and at an incredible speed, only to disappear out of the men’s view within seconds. Fred had also shot at it but was unable to see whether he hit the creature or not.
The two men quickly made their way back to their camp and told the others of their encounter. All the of the men agreed that the incident, along with the footprints, was enough to convince them to pack up and head home. They were to leave the following morning, since the sun had already began to set. If they only knew what awaited them that night, they probably would have left the mountains that same evening.
The camp included a few small tents and a pine log cabin that had been built by the miners just a few months earlier. It wasn’t much, but the cabin offered the men shelter from the elements and to some degree, shelter from the unsettling things that had befallen onto their expedition. The evening of the encounter with the humanoid creature, the men sat around the fire smoking their pipes and discussing their plan to leave in the morning. The night grew cold and so did the darkness; they decided to turn in and get some much needed rest. Not long after they had been fast asleep, a loud wall-shaking thud made them jump up to their feet. Something had hit the side of the cabin hard enough to knock loose the chinking in between the logs. Allowing them a good peek outside their cabin, where they heard footsteps and unfamiliar grunting noises.
Through the hoes, Hank managed to catch a glimpse of what was making those horrific sounds. He only managed to see three of them, however given the noise and commotion, the men believed that there were more than three “ape men” type creatures outside their cabin.
BOOM! another rock hit the wall. Boom! Boom! a few more. Hank the pointed his rifle through the opening in between the logs of the cabin and shot out into the darkness. The creatures fell silent. The footsteps stopped as did the rock throwing. Another shot rings out, only to be answered by more silence. This was only temporary as another rock hit the roof of the cabin with tremendous force. It was then that Fred said to the group that it would be a good idea to shoot only when the creatures “attacked”, so that they would realize that the men were only shooting to defend themselves and that they would stop if the attacks stopped.
It worked for a few minutes but then the attack continued. There was a heavy thud on the roof, as if one of the creatures managed to climb up there. Hank shot his 30-30 Winchester and the bullet went through the roof. They then heard the creature jump off and come around the front of the cabin to be joined by the others. That’s when the front door began to rattle. They were trying to break in. The men pushed back, jamming the door with a long pole from one of the bunkbeds. The creatures pounded on the door so hard that the men thought they would break through in no time. Hank shot at the door and the pushing and pounding stopped.
Quiet and stillness once again fell upon the cabin. The men made sure that the door was properly jammed before moving away from it. It was then that they all saw a long, hairy arm reach through one of the holes in the wall and grab the handle of a nearby axe. Fred quickly grabbed the axe head and turned it upright, so that it would get caught between the logs. Hank then shot straight into the hole and the creature dropped the axe and pulled its arm back. It was one of the most frightening experiences that night, the men would later recall. The attacks against the cabin continued throughout the night. Not to the same degree, but by the early hours of the morning the attacks had dwindled down to rocks being thrown followed by a few whistles here and there.
By the time the sun began to shine over the mountain peaks, the attacks and noises outside had ceased completely. The men waited inside for full daylight and once they felt safe enough, began poking their heads outside. They looked around and saw small rocks strewn all around the cabin and signs of activity, like footprints, but no signs of the creature themselves. Until moments later Fred looked up by the bordering ridge and saw one of the creatures. It was standing there, about eighty yards away, looking down at the men. Fred raised his Winchester once more, took his time to aim and shot three times, hitting the creature several times and they all watched it topple over the cliff, down into the gorge, hundreds of feet below.
Escaping Ape Canyon
Once the men had seen the creature fall off the cliff, they decided to make a run for it. Leaving their equipment and belongings behind, they took what they had in their hands and on their backs and made a speedy trek back to Hank’s Ford. Which had been parked miles away from the camp and Ape Canyon. The men eventually made it back home to Kelso, Washington, where they were able to tell their friends and families about their horrific ordeal in the mountains. The attack left the men shaking and confused as to what they had come across. What were those creatures? Had they managed to actually kill one of them?
The men made it out of the Washington mountains and escape the so-called “Mountain Devils”. However, as with many other cases of the unexplained, they soon found themselves under scrutiny of the press and public. Reporters from Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington soon paid the men a visit, wanting to know every last bit of detailed information they had about the supposed attack by ‘great hairy apes’. As the weeks passed and the reports spread, Fred found himself going back to the mountains in search of evidence. He took with him two reporters and a detective from Portland. Retracing the steps he and the others had taken, Fred managed to find the creatures tracks near their campsite. Much to the reporters delight, they managed to photograph the tracks to add credence to the men’s story.
He was, however, unable to find any remnants of the creature that he had shot and witness fall over the edge of a cliff. There was no body or traces of anything having fallen over and into the gorge several hundred feet below. In fact, the massive footprints they photographed was the only solid evidence they managed to obtain from their expedition back into Ape Canyon. It was the miners’ word against the skeptics. Why would they go through all the hassle of ridicule and attention and report this incredible tale? It wasn’t for fame or attention. The men simply wanted to get off their chest the harrowing events that took place that July evening in 1924.
A Premonition To Ape Canyon
For most, the story of the men’s encounter on Ape Canyon ended there. The details of the men and the photographs of some “big feet” is all the evidence that came from the encounter. There was no body recovered even though the men had claimed to have shot it and watch it topple over the cliff. According to Fred Beck, there’s a reason as to why that is. A metaphysical reason. Fred Beck wrote a book about the incident about 43 years after. In 1967, he released his book titled “I fought the apemen of mount St. Helens, WA.” A not so catchy name for the 5 chapter long book that goes a little beyond the Sasquatch encounter. However it’s in the book that we learn a little bit more about Fred Beck and his claims of clairvoyance and special abilities that led him and the others to Ape Canyon.
In his book, Fred Beck claims that since he was a young boy, he had the ability to see spirits and have premonitions. He goes on to say that two years before the Ape Canyon incident, they had found a mine with the help of a spiritual being. A large Native American figure, dressed in buckskin, appeared to the men and told them that if they followed a large white arrow, it would lead the men to the mine. Fred claims that he and other members of the mining party could see the actual image of an arrow, floating in free space, pointing the way to the location of the mine.
“…we all saw the arrow soar up high, change direction and swoop down. We had to follow in the general direction before we could find it again. It hovered near the top of the north cliff of Ape Canyon. That was the site where we later blasted out our shaft. We got a little closer, and we all saw the image of a large door open, and the big Indian appeared in front of it. He spoke: ‘Because you have cursed the spirit leading you, you will be shown where there is gold, but it is not given to you.’ With those words, he disappeared. Then we saw the door slowly close. There was a huge lock and latch, but as the door shut, the lock did not latch: a closed door but it was not locked! ‘We just as well pack up and go home,’ one of the party said. And that is just the way our gold mine turned out — closed but not locked. We worked that mine for two years, and one assay showed well over 2,000 dollars a ton. But as it turned out, what we had actually done was to cut the leaders. There is a pocket of gold in that cliff if someone is fortunate enough to find it. We gave up looking for it.”
He goes on to say that the whistling and chest-thumping sounds they reported hearing had been plaguing them for a week or so before the encounter. That the noises were always following them, but were subtle…not as loud as they were once the attack began. Fred’s reasoning behind this is that the creatures were not fully there. In other words, they hadn’t fully manifested therefore they sounded muffled. He and the others believed that the creatures were always present and followed them throughout, but had not appeared to them in physical form. This made them believe that the strange footprints they found in the sand bar had an otherworldly explanation. The creature that made those prints manifested out of thin air. Of course, this wasn’t something that the men told the media or anyone else about since it would only add to the already incredulous story they had. Fred continues:
“The Abominable Snowmen are from a lower plane.When the condition and vibration is at a certain frequency, they can easily, for a time, appear in a very solid body. They are not animal spirits, but also lack the intelligence of a human consciousness When reading of evolution we have read many times conjecture about the missing link between man and the Anthropoid Ape. The Snowmen are a missing link in consciousness, neither animal nor human. They are very close to out dimension, and yet are a part of one lower. Could they be the missing link man has been so long searching for? The Human Soul once dwelled in a spiritual body, and eventually incarnated, at the fall of man, into bodies like we have now. The beings we call Abominable Snowmen were not of the necessary high development to incarnate in human form. They had not reached that scale of spiritual evolution. They are the easiest beings materialized as evidenced by the many reports of their appearances to more people in recent years. In fact, if the vibratory influence right for them is present they can manifest without any human being present at all. This accounts for the many tracks being seen along the mountain ranges of the West Coast and Canada.”
This is what Fred Beck believed kept the Sasquatch or Bigfoot creatures hidden or avoiding capture. Their ability to manifest into our world or dimension via vibrational frequencies of the spirit. The incident at Ape Canyon occurred on July of 1924, however the story of the Native American spirit, arrow, or inter-dimensional Sasquatch creatures did not surface publicly until decades after their encounter. Not until he was 78 years-old and had nothing to lose from it. It was something that Fred Beck wanted to keep to himself on the count that it might sound more ridiculous than the ‘ape men’ story, but as the decades passed and the original members of the group also passed, Fred felt the need to confess his true experience up in Ape Canyon. Beck felt that in order to understand these creatures and what happened to the men up on Mt. St. Helens, that the truth must be told no matter how crazy it sounded.
Many officials stated that it had all been a hoax perpetrated by the prospectors themselves. Either to keep people away from their mining sites or to make a little extra money selling it to the tabloids. The official investigation into the incident yielded no evidence of the ‘Ape men’ or a body. Besides the tracks that were photographed, nothing tangible was recovered. The game warden investigating the case labeled it nothing more than a clever hoax. Up to their deathbeds, the five men stuck to the story about their encounter in the mountains. Never wavering from the details and description of the alleged creatures that tormented them that July evening. Fred Beck had always claimed to have a special gift, an ability to tune into other dimensions and higher states of consciousness. This is how, according to him, we are able to communicate with the higher spirits and the creatures we call Bigfoot.
Sources: “I fought the Apemen of Mount St. Helens, WA.” – Ronald A. Beck. 1967. || OregonLive.com – Bigfoot battle.