On a 3-day trip (for our April 1, 2016 anniversary), my wife Diana and I stayed in a small log cabin in southwestern Pennsylvania. This was in the rugged Laurel Highlands—the area of Farmington (with its “haunted” historic Stone House Inn) and Bear Run (the stream where America’s most famous house, Fallingwater, the Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece, is cantilevered over its waterfall).
At our campground, two couples, who were leaving the office when we came in, were waiting for us as we left. One man had recognized me from TV shows. A Bigfoot searcher, he told me with a smile that he had become “more skeptical” over the years. The other, also friendly, gave me his card: Shawn and Tiffany Dennis are with BAPS, the Bigfoot and Paranormal Society. They are having an event—the 2016 Pennsylvania Bigfoot Camping Adventure—in May at this very campground.
The area is said to be home to Bigfoot, as one quickly finds online. According to the Pennsylvania Bigfoot Society, there have been, perhaps predictably, hoaxed tracks, but also multiple man-beast sightings.
A mother and daughter, for example, who were out for a drive heard a rustling in the brush. They first thought it might be a deer or bear, but “later saw that it was an upright creature, very muscular and tall.” Another woman reported seeing two creatures—one perhaps ten feet tall, and a smaller one that was eating blackberries. Other evidence includes a deer found “eaten away until only the head and hide remained.” (See www.phantomsandmonsters.com/2010/03/bigfoot-sightings-continue-in-fayette.html; accessed April 6, 2016.)
The “upright creature” sounds as if it could be what I have termed the Bigfoot Bear—that is, any bear, standing or walking upright as bears commonly do in the alert mode, looking ahead and sniffing the air. As to the pair of creatures, the height estimate seems an exaggeration, but otherwise the description sounds like a mother bear and cub feeding on berries—a favorite food of bears. The deer carcass could indicate a bear or another animal. In short, Bigfoot typically looks and acts like a bear, and is found in bear territory.
Indeed, as shown by place names like Bear Run, Bear Rocks, and so on, the Laurel Highlands are a habitat for black bears. (We even encountered standing bears and Bigfoot together—both with rather wooden personalities—outside a chainsaw-sculpture studio. See photo.)
Of course, not all “Bigfoot” are bears; some may be other animals; many are hoaxes; a few may be tricks of the mind. (For example, as with ghosts, an image may well up from the subconscious and be briefly superimposed on the visual scene.) Given that there is zero fossil evidence for Bigfoot and not a single actual specimen, among other good reasons, the status remains that, of all the possible explanations for a given Bigfoot sighting, its actually being one of the elusive creatures must remain at the bottom of the list.