In the remote swamps and forests of Arkansas, a chilling legend looms large – the Fouke Monster.
The Fouke Monster in Arkansas is a cryptid. Have you ever heard that word? I hadn’t.
Cryptid is a word that refers to creatures that exist in folklore or legend for which there is no scientific evidence.
However their existence is suggested or rumored sometimes for hundreds of year. This includes beasts such as Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster or Sasquatch.
Maybe the Fouke Monster isn’t as well known as Nessie or Big Foot, but it has been the stuff of local Arkansas lore and fascination for many years.
The Legend of the Fouke Monster in Arkansas
The Fouke Monster, who is also referred to as the Boggy Creek Monster, has its origins in the small southwest Arkansas town of Fouke, Arkansas. Stories of its existence date all the way back as far as the 1850’s.
However, the monster really made headlines in the 1970’s.
In May 1971, Bobby Ford, a resident of Fouke, reported that he had been attacked by a creature; a huge hairy man/ape that breathed heavily, had red eyes, and was very fast moving.
In fact, Ford wasn’t the only witness! Ford’s wife, Elizabeth, and his brother and another friend all claimed to have seen the monster.
Apparently they had been hearing noises and seeing strange things for a few days. But this particular day Elizabeth was sleeping on the couch and was awakened by the noise and sight of the creature’s hairy arm coming through a window.
At first she thought it was a bear, but when she jumped up screaming and got a better look she realized that it was something else entirely.
Her husband, Bobby, who was outside at the time, heard her screams and came running. He was attacked by the fleeing monster but managed to escape.
He and his brother chased the creature into the surrounding woods and with their guns and were even able to get a shot off. However, they never found any blood that might indicate that their aim had been true.
In fact, all that they was found were some creepy three toed tracks and deep claw scratches on the front porch.
Mr Ford was treated for minor injuries.
This encounter made the newspapers. People all around the state now knew about the monster.
Locals who had perhaps once been reticent to admit that they had also seen evidence of the creature now came forward. There were a whole rash of sightings.
What does the Fouke Monster look like?
Witnesses who have encountered the Fouke Monster describe it as a towering, seven-foot-tall, behemoth that walks upright, is covered with shaggy reddish fur, and bears an uncanny resemblance to Bigfoot.
Its red, piercing eyes and an overpowering stench are frequently mentioned in these accounts, adding an eerie touch to the tale.
The Ford family said that the footprints that they found had three toes. More recently the footprints that have been found indicate that the monster has a “bunion” off the side of one of its toes.
This is a quote from a recent news article by KATV in Little Rock.
“It’s got a little bunion on the side, and we’ve since then seen several more tracks in the woods, and it looks like the same individual,” said Holmes.Doyle Holmes KATV news article
The Fouke Monster in Popular Culture
The Fouke Monster’s legend becoming part of local culture in the 1970’s sparked the interest of an independent film maker from Arkansas, Charles B Pierce.
His 1972 documentary-style horror film “The Legend of Boggy Creek” propelled the creature to national attention, further fueling the fascination with this Arkansas cryptid.
The movie is a docu-drama. It is a reimagining of the Ford family’s encounter. In the film Mr. Pierce mixes interviews, first person accounts, and re-enactments of the Ford family’s experience with the creature.
Many of the locals who took part in the film still live in the area today.
When I was growing up it was a bit of a rite of passage to watch this film and today it has become a cult classic and part of popular culture.
More importantly for those interested in film-making it also has the bragging rights to being the first horror film shot in a docu-drama style! This is a very common technique today, but was cutting edge at the time.
The Monster Mart
After the movie the monster was very popular for a time and there was a bit of a Fouke frenzy.
However, you have to realize that Fouke is a tiny place in the swamps of Southwest Arkansas. People would visit the town and discover that there really wasn’t much there.
This is how Monster Mart came to be.
Monster Mart started as a convenience store but now is the Fouke Monster Museum.
According to an news piece from 2021 by THV 11 the owner of the Monster Museum said:
“People were coming in and they were kinda disappointed there wasn’t anything to see or do around here and there was a lot of interest. A lot of interest all over the country,”Denny Roberts owner of the Monster Mart from a news piece by THV 11
The Monster Mart has old news clippings about the Fouke Monster and any other memorabilia that you might imagine including casts of more recent foot prints.
In fact, new items come in to the museum all the time as new discoveries are made.
Here is a glowing review about the Monster Mart from Trip Advisor:
The Monster Mart is everything I wanted it to be and more. It is part store where you can buy many things Bigfoot, as well as general groceries/Drinks. The best bit though is the wonderful museum, with fantastic displays and lots of knowledgeable information. It has sighting reports, photos and info on the movie, as well as the recent Small Town Monsters production display. Even if you are not into Bigfoot, this Mart is truly one you shouldn’t surpass if you are anywhere near.wayneo588 from Trip Advisor
I luckily managed to meet the owner Denny, who was amazing. We chatted for quite some time, and took photos. He is truly knowledgeable and made us feel so welcome, as did his wife, Brenda, who was also lovely.
What About the Monster Today?
Although the original frenzy from the 1970’s has long since died down there are still sightings today. Reports continue to persist, though hard evidence remains elusive.
In fact, according to the KATV article referenced above, the owner of the Monster Mart, Denny Roberts, had his very first sighting in 2023.
“First thought it was a deer, but I said no, that’s no deer—it had too big of a body mass, it was reddish orange. Looked to me kind of like an orangutan,”
Roberts said of a sighting that happened on a drive two Sundays ago—the first he has ever experienced.Denny Roberts owner of Monster Mart to KATV and KATV reporter
I imagine that many people in this small area are careful about talking about their particular sighting of the Fouke monster because they don’t want to be ridiculed and some probably don’t want to stir up more interest.
This is a remote and private area and residents don’t want strangers traipsing around on their land.
On the other hand the THV 11 article quotes the Fouke mayor as saying that he loves the monster because it is good for tourism.
I wonder if he has seen it himself?
Fouke Monster Festival
The town of Fouke hosts an annual Fouke Monster Festival in the spring to celebrate the legend and to raise scholarship money for Fouke High School Students.
The festival has presentations from Fouke monster and Bigfoot experts, stories from those who have sighted the monster, guided tours to various Fouke monster locations, vendors, and more.
To this day, the Fouke Monster remains a cryptid deeply embedded in the folklore of Arkansas. Despite the numerous sightings and stories, no scientific proof of its existence has emerged.
Skeptics argue that these encounters may be mere hoaxes or cases of mistaken identity, but for the believers, the Fouke Monster continues to be a source of mystery and wonder, debate and intrigue.
Regardless of where one stands there is no denying the allure of this Arkansas legend.
Perhaps there is still a mystery lurking in the wilds and swamps of Arkansas.
What do you think? Are you a believer or a skeptic?
Thanks for stopping by!