Bob Filbey has never seen Bigfoot himself. But he knows where he's been.
In the late '80s, the Los Angeles native—a trained neuroscientist whose résumé includes stints as a commercial artist, antique shop owner and ride operator at Disneyland—began meticulously mapping Sasquatch sightings across the West Coast, beginning with Northern California, where he lived "off the grid" for 20 years.
It took him three decades, but Filbey, who moved to the Rogue River two years ago, finally got around to finishing his Oregon map, which he sells as an illustrated double-sided poster at Bigfoot conventions and through his Etsy store. It features over 1,000 sightings across the state, along with an annotated guide to what he considers the most credible reports.
WW spoke to Filbey via email about his mapping project, what he's learned and why people need to believe in Bigfoot, whether or not he actually exists.
WW: What led you to start mapping Sasquatch sightings?
Robert Filbey: Let's just say I had an interest in Bigfoot, and decided to research the subject more, and having done so, came out with a map of sightings in California 32 years ago. It was always my plan to do Oregon, Washington and British Columbia, and I have extensive notes for each, but laziness took over. It wasn't until moving to Oregon when some friends pressured me to finish the Oregon Bigfoot map, which I completed this spring after about a year's research. I was especially interested in older reports—before Bigfoot became a media celebrity in the 1960s—from Native Americans, miners and frontiersmen. I also concentrated on observations by trained observers, like police, Forest Service employees, biologists, engineers and the like.
What conclusions have you drawn from putting together these maps?
I have no theories or conclusions other than there are lots of reports of folks seeing Bigfoot or his tracks—so many that it's hard to believe all are confused, mistaken or lying for publicity.
What specific sightings stand out to you?
No. 101 is interesting because it involves [the Oregon Department of Transportation], with several witnesses, a named [U.S. Forest Service] ranger and medical doctor, a newspaper account and the Smithsonian museum, along with account and exhibit numbers and, best of all, a corpus delicti—now missing! No. 269 shows Bigfoot altruism, when a hiker breaks his leg, passes out, wakes up to two Bigfoot looking over him, passes out again and wakes up again after they carry him to his wife and car.
A ton of these sightings are concentrated around Estacada and the so-called "Bigfoot Highway." Why do you think that is?
The sightings in Estacada baffle me. It's quite open and well-serviced by shrub and tree nurseries. It doesn't look like a place I would hang out were I Bigfoot. Likewise, the suburbs of Portland have a tremendous number of sightings. Were I Bigfoot, I'd head to the mountains. Is it the population pressure coming from these cities, or the fact that lots of folks are getting out of bars late at night in these areas?
Everyone has a camera on them at all times these days. Doesn't it seem like, if Bigfoot exists, we would've gotten a decent photo by now?
People with phone cameras are absorbed by taking selfies. I don't think any photos of Bigfoot will prove he exists, no matter how sharp. There are too many talented hoaxers out there. It will take a body to confirm he exists.
Would you consider yourself a true believer in Sasquatch?
No, I'm a trained scientist, and don't "believe" in anything I don't witness myself. But I'm always open to a sighting. Even if Bigfoot doesn't exist, it seems humans need him, at least in their folklore all across the planet.
For what reason would humans "need" Bigfoot?
A mythological Bigfoot serves to remind man of the wild and unknown, and wonder and respect for what he doesn't know—perhaps akin to worship of God, who we also don't know by empirical evidence. We gain respect for the mysteries of nature and escape our pigeonholed lives of navigating the façade of civilization. I believe Bigfoot served the same purpose for native people. What belief in a possibly nonexistent Bigfoot shows about humans is that, in the face of mystery and the unknown, we confabulate beings and forces to explain them, perhaps to sleep better at night.
BUY IT: Order Bob Filbey's Bigfoot Map of Oregon at etsy.com/shop/BigfootCollections.