A museum in the North Georgia Mountains explores the reality of Bigfoot through evidence, artifacts and factual accounts.
by Kathleen Walls
Since the beginning of recorded history, there have been sightings of a large, apelike creature. The names differ—Yetti, Sasquatch, Bigfoot—but the legends have always existed. While they have been sighted all over the country and the world, sightings in the mountains of North Georgia are almost commonplace. One researcher in northeast Georgia has founded a museum and lab to investigate the creatures. Expedition Bigfoot opened in Cherry Log in Gilmer County in February of 2016.
You may walk into Expedition Bigfoot expecting another tourist attraction, but you will leave pondering the very real evidence presented. Is Bigfoot real or not? This museum is not designed to be a house of horrors. It is a real-life investigative research hub that displays evidence and has a lab attached for discerning the truth of claims and evidence. Asked what inspired him to open a Bigfoot museum, Owner David Bakara says, “My strong interest in the subject since I saw the 1973 movie ‘The Legend of Boggy Creek’ and our love of vintage roadside attractions.”
The fact that Bakara has actually seen a living Bigfoot naturally was a motive as well. About the sighting that included his wife, he says, “It was in Alva Florida [near Fort Myers] on an investigation in 2011. There were two of them at about 80 feet away. We observed them through a thermal imager for about 10 minutes until they made their way back into the swamp.” He remembers that his wife Melinda “came on board as an investigator, with me, in 2011. She was openly skeptical until the sighting in Alva, that same year.”
The Bakaras’ investigative vehicle, The BRAT (Bigfoot Research and Tech), an ATV set up for researching Bigfoot, is on display in the museum.
“The Legend of Boggy Creek” that Bakara refers to tells of apelike creatures based on sightings in 1971 in Fouke, Arkansas. The creature that came to be called the Fouke Monster was seen peering in the window of a local resident.
Bakara has accumulated one of the largest collections of artifacts in the world. He has items like hair samples, footprints, handprints, butt prints and even a feces sample from Bigfoot. At Expedition Bigfoot, there are educational videos about factual sightings, and you can read factual newspaper accounts. Sets of headphones play recorded Bigfoot “conversations.”
One well-done exhibit in the museum is a recreation of the Ape Canyon Attack that occurred near Mount St. Helen in Washington on July 16, 1924. Fred Beck and three other miners were attacked by a group of what they referred to as “apemen.” The miners claimed they shot and might have killed one of the creatures, who then attacked their cabin with rocks and tried to break in. The reason it’s Bakara’s favorite exhibit is that it “demonstrates these creatures’ ability to defend themselves against aggression, yet restrain themselves from harming humans,” he says. “If desired, they could have easily torn down that cabin.”
The evidence in favor of Bigfoot being real is strong. Just in the North Georgia Mountains, there have been numerous sightings noted in placards of states with different color pins to record them. Those sightings that were clearly seen in good light and directly are marked in green. Less positive ones are marked in yellow. In Georgia, the largest numbers of “clearly viewed sightings” were in Gilmer, Dawson, Lumpkin and White counties, all mountainous county. There are some in middle and southern Georgia but much fewer.
Surprisingly, the Florida map shows more reported sightings in north and central Florida than south Florida.
The museum has many casts of Bigfoot footprints and exhibits explaining how to tell the difference between natural dermal ridges found in animal or human skin and ridges that might be made by the person making the cast. One exhibit details a cast made by Deputy James P. Akin of the Pike County Sheriff’s Office near Elkins Creek in Pike County, Georgia, in 1997. The cast was 17.5 inches long and 8.5 inches wide. Scientists in Idaho studied the print and sent it to J.H. Chilcutt, the latent fingerprint examiner at the Conroe Texas Police Department. He stated it was “definitely the ridges of a non-human primate.” The cast and report are on display so you can decide for yourself.
One small section of the museum is Bakara’s working lab. Here, he analyzes stories of sightings, actual samples and casts. You can walk through and look at the ongoing work, just not touch.
In 2017, a local woman observed one outside of her bedroom window for 20 minutes. In her description, ‘It was five feet tall, covered in the long red hair, and resembled a ‘caveman’.”
In 2009, a retired nurse and her mother saw one outside of their home in Mineral Bluff, Georgia. They described it as eight feet tall and white in color.“
And in May 2019, a Blairsville man saw one walking across Highway 515 at dusk near Cherry Log Georgia. These are just a few of, close to 100 local sightings.”
I spoke with one local resident, Susan Littlejohn, owner of Build an Ark Animal Rescue. (It’s well worth a visit while you are in Gilmer County to interact with less-frightening wild creatures like goats, sheep, horses and other rescue animals.) She was at Amicalola Falls in neighboring Dawson County when she saw the creature. She describes it this way: “It was large and hairy. This was definitely not someone in costume as it was too big and the curve of the spine was not human. It was an experience I will never forget.”
Believer or non-believer, this museum will entertain, educate and at least make you wonder what’s really out there in the mountains.
Expedition Bigfoot is open daily from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and is self-guided with $8 admission. They also have a free mini-museum and gift shop in downtown Blue Ridge.
Kathleen Walls, former reporter for Union Sentinel in Blairsville, Georgia, is publisher/writer for American Roads and Global Highways. She is the author of travel books Georgia’s Ghostly Getaways, Finding Florida’s Phantoms, Hosts With Ghosts and Wild About Florida series. Her articles have appeared in Food Wine Travel Magazine, Family Motor Coaching Association, Weekender Extended, Travel World International, Georgia Magazine and others. She is a photographer with many of her original photographs appearing in her travel ezine and other publications. Follow her on Twitter @katywalls.
Eric Vickers / January 6, 2021
My name is Eric Vickers. I have been working in the rural area of Laurens County GA. For 30 years, I am a supervisor for Lauren’s county public works department. I have never believed in bigfoot simply because of lack of sightings with so many hunters and trial cameras in the woods now but about a week ago maybe a little more I saw one cross the hwy 46. It was 4:00 pm broad daylight. He came from the left side of the road and went into the right side into the thick woods. This is a very busy hwy and it did not stop or look either way for traffic, it just looked straight ahead. It was slightly hunched over and was solid black from its head to its feet and it was moving at a fast walk. Its arms looked a little longer than a normal man. I just had to tell someone who might actually believe me.
Bebo / March 16, 2021
Hello and my sighting occurred in Fayette County, GA off of White Water Creek. Four years ago in mid Dec of 2018 my friends and I “were golfing.” Yes golfing. Four (4) grown men saw a creature walking in the woods not fifty feet from our tee and beside a large pond. The leaves were about 50% down since it was mid Dec. (two weeks before this and one could not see into the woods its so thick) Really couldn’t see much from the side as it walked at a steady pace from left to our right. (could see it was very large) I swung the golf cart around and went back about 100 feet ++ to the other tee box that was on the edge of the woods. I stopped the cart with my buddy on my right as I was driving and looked straight at a jet black 7 to 8 foot creature walking right at us. I yelled and whistled at it. My buddy was slapping me on the leg hard demanding we leave. I kept yelling and it was down and out of sight. Suddenly it got up with its back to us and quickly going back the way it came up that hill through the woods. I kept yelling and it turned so I got a good look at its left side shoulder and its head on the left side. The sun it on the back so I could see it was clean jet black fur almost like a new mink coat. Very large and on TWO legs. (my golf buddy that first saw it – stated it looked like a 55 gal oil drum walking through the woods) I’ve seen bear in the PA woods so I know a bear from another creature not walking on four legs. Deer season had just begun so a hunter moved the creature to the North from its normal area where it lived throughout the year. Likely not a golfer I would say since it was not dressed properly in its beautiful jet black coat of fur. Fayette County and South of Atlanta GA. Wow !!! <>
Millie / November 1, 2022
Hello, My name is Millie Heath… I’m retired from CSX and im from Waycross Ga….I came a cross this post an wanted to tell u guys about our experience…. It was a few months back I had taken my 2 older grandkids Brenton 12, Landon 9 fishing hopping from creek to creek out in Swamp… We do this every summer, load up an hit all the old timer spots tear up some blue gill, shell crackers, specks, speckle and butter cats..So we got to a spot I love about 16 miles outta Waycross and had been in this spot for about a hour and a half ..The creek is off an old bridge an u fish on either side but we were on the left .. The creek was maybe 40 ft wide by 55 deep with trees hanging over the back side but i can tell the creek runs threw more….. I noticed where people had been walking in the back side which there was a little bank on the right with a trail leading to the back right corner with a 13 ft high by 8ft wide clearing cut out.. OK this is where it gets good.. So it was 630 645pm still see great outside.. Landon was 6ft away on my left throwing towards that clearing and Brenton was on my right an had just caught another butter cat fish.. So I’m looking down at him reeling it in an im.getting a bite.. Landon all of a sudden rund over to me shaking to death, pale as a ghost… And says.. Nanny let’s go right now.. I said why son what’s wrong were catching fish and u love to catch fish.. He said NO Nanny I want to go now ..I said WHY SON? He said cause there was a monster standing right there in that clearing.. Then I heard two splashes back there .. SPLASH …SPLASH… My grandson son Brenton said.. Did u hear that? That was him running.. So we loaded up got in the truck an he started telling us what it looked like.. Cause at that times he could barely talk cause he was so scared.. He said it was way bigger that my best friend who’s 6’3″.. He said it had short black hair, huge muscles, face had huge black cheeks with blk hair all over it, RED EYES…. He said his head was squared kinda with no neck.. He said it caught his eye an ran in that little clearing faced us all in a crouching way with his teeth showing as he checked each one of us out an took off running… Just like that..35 ft away from us..That clearing was 35 ft away… That kid is not gonna make up that much detail if he were telling a story or if he imagined it…. This is what I’ve been told by so many family an friends.. OK so it drove me crazy thinking about it an week an a half later I went back… It had rained a solid week so I wasn’t sure if I’d see any evidence but I took some pics .. Got a few good pics of something running an one where he said it was standing .. maybe feet prints idk.. something ran away cause u can clearly see it…
Ron Bracewell / January 17, 2021
Eric, wow what a sight to see. I would like to speak with you sometime. Not a lot of sightings of bigfoot in south Georgia, or, at least, no one told anyone if they saw anything. I live in Georgia, and would want to know more of what you saw.
Larry d honeycutt / February 3, 2021
I’ve seen four since 1979. The first was standing inside the holler of a very large cypress tree, located on wekiver river in north Florida, this is northeast of Orlando .We were in a 17 ft Mohawk canoe, paddeling down river to the St. John’s river. The tree was next to the river bank. It had been broken off about 30ft up by a past hurricane. But standing up to his croch was a 6 ft skunk ape. He was rather human looking as I believe he was a juivinal, approx 15 to 16 yrs old. It was February 1979
.he remained very calm and stoic. He was very similar to a human. He had black eyes surrounded by dull whites.he iooked athletic, but was slim, not big and fat. He had black hair about 4 inches long, except his chest was chestnut colored. We round the tree for 20 minutes just obserVing him. He made no noise but would follow us with his eyes as we paddled about under him. We had a rifle, and I gave some thougt to shooting him. But he was not bothering us and was not treating us, so we let him alone.
Debbie Gaines / January 19, 2021
In the mid 70’s I lived in a mobile home Euharlee GA surrounded by tall pines as far as the eye could see and had a Sasquatch encounter. My husband had fallen asleep on the couch. I was sleeping with a high window open by my bed and was awakened by a loud breathing coming thru the screen, got up and looked out and could see a black chest covered with long hair, couldn’t even see a face it was so tall. There was an extreme garbage, swampy, dead animal smell. I grabbed my pistol on instinct and fired through the screen at which time it roared like I’ve never heard and went crashing thru the forest, running away toward the mine cuts. The gunshot woke my husband and he came running to see what was going on. The sound of the heavy, almost booming footsteps is also something I’d never heard before. My husband at the time and I went outside the next morning and saw blood on the pine tree outside the bedroom window and a very small amount of dark, long, brownish-blackish-reddish coarse hair. I sure do wish I’d had presence of mind to collect it but at the time I was just so glad we weren’t attacked I didn’t think of anything else. Shock played into it, too, in retrospect.
joe worth / July 25, 2021
hi i live in ellijay ga.are there any guides that can take you out in the woods,looking for evidence of bigfoot in our area?
Francis Dunning / June 14, 2022
I live in Warner robins Georgia x military and would love to start possibly a big foot search.
HEATHER SWEATT / October 1, 2022
Me too! Going out today to some national forest. I live in Macon. Email is [email protected], please reach out.