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Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Honey Island Swamp Monster

In 1963, Harlan Ford filmed a "monster" in the Honey Island Swamp in St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana. The film is alleged to have sat unnoticed among his belongings until his death in 1980. His granddaughter Dana Holyfield discovered it and made it public.

Harlan Ford spoke of his encounter with the creature and spent much of his remaining years searching for it on numerous trips into the bayou. He never spoke of the film or showed it to anyone. Since he never released it, some feel that it was a possible joke that he had concocted and then never followed through. Ford's wife even stated in an interview, that the film was not made in 1963, but was filmed sometime in the late 1970s.

Below is a link to the video. It was originally filmed on 8MM film, which unfortunately was not available until a few years later, according to some sources.  It was been referred to as the "oldest known video" of a bigfoot type creature and is often titled "Sasquatch running in Honey Island Swamp".


Ford described the creature as being bipedal, around 7 ft. tall with gray hair and yellow or red eyes. Looking at the tracks, it had three webbed toes and the creature had a horrible stench to it..

In 1974, the creature came to national attention when Ford and his friend Billy Mills claimed to find unusual footprints in the swamp. The footprints appeared to belong to the creature they found leaning over the body of a wild boar with its throat gashed open. The creature was described as having grey hair, longer on the head.

Holyfield said her grandfather once took a goat out as bait and staked it near a tree blind, where he waited with a camera. The creature did not make an appearance. She also stated that Ford and Mills and other friends from work, including Jim Hartzog, spotted the creature while fishing in the swamp.

Ford also made several casts of the prints that he discovered in the swamp. Some were four-toed, with the toes webbed. They appeared to be "a cross between a primate and a large alligator" and were described as being 9 3/4 inches long. Another researcher said Ford's casts were of both three and four toed feet, 10 to 12 inches long. They featured 3 long thin toes next to each other and a fourth toe set back on the inside, like a thumb. Some researchers theorize that as the Honey Island Swamp Monster must be related to bigfoot, that the toe issue is caused by in-breeding among them due to the isolation of the swampy area.

Ford with track casts
courtesy of

The swamp itself is 27 miles long and 7 miles wide, lying between the East Pearl and West Pearl Rivers. It is comprised of 70,000 acres with few roads running through it. It is mainly accessible by boat or on foot. This area is said to be populated by black bear, alligators, white tail deer, feral hogs, rabbits, squirrels, fish and other aquatic creatures, birds, and the Florida panther.

Local ecologist Paul Wagner and wife Sue run nature tours in the area with the help of their Cajun guide Robbie Charbonnet. All three state that they have never seen any evidence of a creature fitting the description of the Honey Island Swamp monster.

There is a "breakdown" of the video filmed by Ford.

Breakdown Video:

Points made in favor of the video include :

1. Fluid gait that does not look human.
2. Sun glisten off both shoulders, natural oils.
3. Retreat after being seen.
4. High shoulders. Slope to back.
5. Consistent head to foot coloring.
6. Long arm.

Ford and Mills are not the only ones who have claimed to have seen the creature.

In 1973, a guide was traveling down a bayou in a small boat and became stuck on something in the water. When he stopped to check it out, he was amazed to see a creature swimming to the shore where it climbed out of the water and walked into the trees on two legs.

courtesy unknown-

Ted Williams had two encounters. The first one he was going along and saw what appeared at first to be a stump. It was when he realized that there was not supposed to be a stump there and stopped for a second look, the "stump" ran away. The creature standing there was dark grey, about 7 ft. tall.

He watched it jump a bayou (stream).  The second sighting was when he saw two of the creatures swimming the Pearl River. One was bigger than the other and swam a little faster. They both swam like humans would with long overhead strokes. 

Neither would look at him and they ran off into the woods. "It looked too much like a human to me, broad shoulders, arms hanging down below its knees, hands looked almost like a humans," declared Williams.

courtesy of

Barry Ford and his wife also claim an encounter while on a fishing trip around 2002. Around 9 pm they heard a "peculiar noise, a scream down the river" about a half mile away. His wife wanted a fire so Barry went out to gather up some wood. While doing so, they heard another scream, this time even closer, perhaps about 300 yards away. This scared both of them badly, but Barry tried to hide that from his wife. Less than ten minutes later there was another scream, this time right at their location. Barry kept their fire burning the rest of the night.

There is also folklore attached to the area concerning 'monsters'. There is the usual Train Wreck Story, often attached to sightings of unknown creatures in the forests.  It is said that in the early part of the 20th century there was a train wreck near the Pearl River. The train was apparently full of exotic animals from a traveling circus and when the train derailed the survivors fled into the nearby swamp. Most of the animals soon perished in the swamp except for a group of chimpanzees who managed to survive and interbreed with the alligators producing a reptilian-like mammal as a result.

Mud track - Ed Martin photo
courtesy of Dana Holyfield website

It is also said that there are Native stories of swamp creatures dating back hundreds of years. Among those stories is the story of the creature Letiche: "a carnivorous, aquatic-humanoid" which upsets boats and attacks travelers. In Cajun folklore it is said to have been a child who became lost in the fog in the bayou. His plaintive calls of "ma ma, ma ma" were heard by a mother alligator. The cries were so similar to that of her young, she gathered the child onto her back and took him home to her lair. There she fed and cared for him along with her young ones. She taught him to swim and catch fish and turtles to eat. It is said that there is magic in alligator holes and that soon the child grew a tail to help him steer through the water. His fingers and toes became webbed to help him swim. When he had learned all he could from his alligator mother, he moved to the other side of the bayou where people lived. And so the legend grew.

Letiche photo courtesy - Bayou Souls by Mandie Lucas

Harlan Ford,
photo courtesy of

The story of the Honey Island Swamp Monster has been featured several times on television. It appeared as a Bigfoot like creature with crab-like claws on the animated series "The Secret Saturdays" . "Lost Tapes" had an episode on it called 'Swamp Creature'; "In Search of . . . " called their episode 'The Swamp Monster'; "Monsters and Mysteries in America" had an episode 'The Swamp' and showed the original film.

On "Fact or Faked : Paranormal Files" the panel recreated Ford's footage using a man in a ghillie suit in 'Bayou Beast/River Ghost'. They decided that the film could be a simple mistaken identity on Ford's part, not an intentional hoax, and they did not rule out that such a creature could exist.

"Swamp People" episode 'Full Moon Fever' showed a group of people including Ford's granddaughter, Dana Holyfield, searching for the creature. 

Says Dana Holyfield : "Harlan wasn't a man to make up something like that. He was down to earth and honest and told it the way it was and didn't care if people believed him or not."




"I'll spark the thought; what you do with it is up to you."
 "Those that know, need no further proof. Those that don't, should not demand it from others, but seek it for themselves."

This Post By TCC Team Member Nancy Marietta. Nancy has had a lifelong interest in the paranormal and cryptids. Nancy is also a published author and her book, The Price of war, has been met with great reviews.

[Please Note: Sadly Nancy passed away at the first of January, 2022. We will continue to honor her and her research by sharing her work. RIP Nancy. -Thomas]

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