I’ve been told many times that life in Plumas County is magical. And who can deny that with all the beauty that surrounds us? The forests, rivers and lakes really are enchanting.
I believe that growing up in Plumas County is even more magical. Children already believe in magic, and supplementing that belief with Plumas County’s environment just inflates the magic.
There is no doubt in many children’s minds that Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy exist. These magical creatures coexist with the “real” world seamlessly. One magical component that really played a part of my childhood here in Quincy was monsters.
Monsters were real in my mind. Witches, vampires, werewolves and the lot would scurry about town just as much as I. My favorite monsters were always the lesser-known ones that were specific to Plumas County.
The Aboganog was a creature that resided in Spanish Creek. Every time I went swimming near Oakland Camp, I was scared stiff to swim out too deep. Similarly, Crystal Lake up on Mount Hough had a Nessy sort of monster.
My belief in monsters reached a whole new level in 1994 when reports started flowing in that Bigfoot was spotted here in Plumas County. I was 11 years old at the time, and felt like our town just had a celebrity pass by. Bigfoot! Here!
The whole town was in uproar with Sasquatch sightings. I remember the downtown bakery started making giant cookies in the shape of feet. The Bigfoot buzz was everywhere.
One morning around that time, the old gang and I decided we were going to put the rumors to rest and snap a photo of the infamous Sasquatch.
I packed my backpack with snacks, water and my parents’ camera, and with Little Brad, Big Brad, Johnny and Brett in tow, made my way to Mill Creek.
We all lived in East Quincy, and would often make day trips up the creek. Is was far enough from home to feel like we were exploring, yet close enough to make sure we got home in time for dinner.
Once we reached the creek we got distracted by another monster, the fabled giant fish that lived in the creek. For years we had swapped stories about spotting this fish in the creek. The creek was only about 3 feet wide, yet this fish was rumored to be the size of a Volkswagen Beetle.
We eventually got back on track and started exploring our way up the creek. In the past, we wouldn’t venture farther than the old mines, but this day served a higher purpose.
We went farther than we ever had and the reality of monsters seemed even more evident as we ventured into unknown territory. Then, the trip paid off.
In the distance, we saw this hairy beast bent over and grunting. It was a little hard to make out from as far back as we were, but it was definitely Bigfoot.
After daring each other back and forth to go closer, we decided it would be easier to all go together. Slowly but surely, we inched ourselves towards the monster.
The closer we got, the clearer we made out Bigfoot. He was leaning over something and mumbling to himself. Once we came within about 40 yards, Bigfoot turned around and looked straight at us.
“Hey! What are you kids doing here?” asked a crusty, bearded old man with a blackened dirty face.
With imaginations crushed, but having an even more imminent sense of danger, we quickly ran down along Mill Creek. We kept running for what seemed like an eternity until we knew we were out of reach of “Bigfoot.”
After catching our breaths, we all looked at each other knowingly. We hadn’t found Bigfoot. The idea of this magical monster seemed a little less real. We started making our way back home in silence when Little Brad finally piped up.
“Did you see that old guy’s necklace? I think there was a human skull on it.”
“Yeah!” Johnny responded. “I bet that guy just lives out in the woods and waits for little kids to come by so he can kill them and eat them!”
One by one we added to the list of horrible things this old man in the woods does to little kids that trespass on his property.
Just as quickly as it disappeared, our imaginations and belief in monsters reappeared. And thus the legend of the old, murderous hermit who lived up Mill Creek was born.