Urban fantasy offers readers a chance to mix magic with reality. It is perhaps this blend of authenticity and fantasy that continues to draw new fans into the fold. But, what about the magical myths that provide inspiration and entertainment in the pages of real histories? It seems that they, too, help drive people to explore. So let’s explore Oregon’s legends today.
Oregon’s King Of Urban Legends: Bigfoot
Bigfoot is just one of the supernatural myths that linger in the real historical records of Oregon. A wild state that’s known for its old-growth forests, pristine beaches, and diverse ecologies. So, it may seem natural that people would see – or think they saw – something amiss amidst the trees.
Bigfoot also appears in urban fantasy, such as in Jim Butcher’s Working for Bigfoot. Thus, it seems that Oregon is a good place to look for real tales to inspire the fiction that drives us.
While Bigfoot retains its status as a cryptid, sources have called this creature the most universal example of pseudo-science known to man.
However, even here, there is room for debate. A number of otherwise respected scientists and academics have provided empirical evidence to buttress their theories about Bigfoot. He is, they state, in fact quite real.
The Scientists Weigh In
Anthropologists such as Jeff Meldrum of Idaho State University and Grover Krantz of Washington State University have espoused their view that Bigfoot is a real phenomenon. Meldrum and Krantz based their own findings on the study of a video taken in the Klamath Mountains. (As an aside, my newest book, A Killer’s Secret is set in Klamath Falls). They also analyzed footprints originally found in the Blue Mountain area of northeastern Oregon.
The first reported sighting of Bigfoot in Oregon by white residents occurred in 1904. A number of sightings along the coast arose subsequently over the following decades. These claims often involved miners or loggers. Witnesses describe hairy, tall ape-like creatures with abnormally large feet.
However, long before 1904, area residents were familiar with the myth of Bigfoot. The local tribes knew this elusive creature by a different name, Tsiatko. This appellation was documented by ethnographer George Gibbs as early as 1865.
Bigfoot remains a source of jokes amongst the remaining loggers and a source of income up and down I-5 and Highway 101. But the fact remains that this urban legend is as ingrained in many cultures as is the need for food and shelter.
Oregon’s Murder Trails
Moving on, Oregon isn’t just the home of hippies hunting hirsute hoaxes. One thing many urban fantasy readers may be familiar with are murder trails.
Oregon just happens to be the home to one of the weirder murder trials in recent memory. In 2013, a Hillsboro man was convicted of beating his girlfriend to death. The interesting part in this unfortunate tale, however, was that a major part of the defense. The convicted murderer claimed the real killers were energy vampires.
You read that right. A licensed, practicing attorney got up and asked witnesses to tell a jury of reasonable, sane people about energy vampires.
Portland’s Shanghai Tunnels
Finally, Portland, Oregon was for some time considered the most haunted of the port towns. In particular, the Shanghai Tunnels have been studied for their potential paranormal activity. With their seedy beginnings, as the route by which young prostitutes were smuggled into a new life of sexual slavery and forced labor, it seems only natural that the Travel Channel would select them for a show.
Urban fantasy is a genre that thrives on mixing magic with the modern world. It seems only natural that fans, then, would find a jaunt into the various urban legends that help shape our own modern realities a worthy excursion.