Cryptozoology

Thunderbird Photo

A real thunderbird?

This is one of those matters in Cryptozoology that shall be forever unsolvable at this point. The situation is that once upon a time there was supposed to be a photograph which had been circulated in the late 1950s or early 1960s, which was seen casually by several persons someplace or another. and then at one point in time, Cryptozoologist Ivan T. Sanderson found that the only copy he had, in form of a photostat from some unspecified earlier publication, had been lost while out on loan to some researchers. Naturally enough, Sanderson wanted to get another copy of it as a replacement. And then something happened (perhaps baffling but perhaps not): nobody seemed to be able to find another copy of the photo or even identify where it had originally come from. To quote an internet source on the subject:

…The story of the Thunderbird was relegated to the ranks of creatures like the “jackalope” until 1963, when the story was revived. In the May 1963 issue of Saga, a men’s magazine of the day, writer Jack Pearl recounted the story of the Tombstone Thunderbird, along with some large bird sightings of the early 1960’s. Not only did he tell the story though, he went one step further and claimed that the Tombstone Epitaph had, in 1886, “published a photograph of a huge bird nailed to a wall. The newspaper said that it had been shot by two prospectors and hauled into town by wagon. Lined up in front of the bird were six grown men with their arms outstretched, fingertip to fingertip. The creature measured about 36 feet from wingtip to wingtip.”

While this is a different variation of the story (and size of the creature), it seems to be referring to the same incident. Was this nothing more than a mythic legend of the west, or was there something to the story after all?

In the September 1963 issue of Fate magazine, a correspondent to the magazine named H.M Cranmer would state that not only was the story true, but the photo was published and had appeared in newspapers all over America. And Cranmer would not be the only one who remembered the photo. Eminent researcher Ivan T. Sanderson also remembered seeing the photo and in fact, even claimed to have once had a photostat of it that he loaned to two associates, who lost it. The editors of Fate even came to believe that they may have published the photo in an earlier issue of the magazine but a search through back issues failed to reveal it. Meanwhile, the original Epitaph story, which again mentions no photograph, was revived in a 1969 issue of Old West, further confusing the issue as to whether the photo was real or not.

The Epitaph however stated that it did not exist, or if it did, it had not been in their newspaper. Responding to numerous inquiries, employees of the paper started a thorough search of back issues and files. They could find no such photo and even an extended search of other Arizona and California newspapers of the period produced no results. A number of articles that appeared in Pursuit, the journal for the Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained prompted a memory from W. Ritchie Benedict, who recalled seeing Ivan T. Sanderson himself display a copy[photostat-DD] of the photo on a Canadian television show “The Pierre Benton Show”. Unfortunately though, no copies of the show have ever been found.

So, is the photo real? And if not, then why do so many of us with an interest in the unusual claim to remember seeing it? Who knows? In the late 1990’s, author John Keel insisted that “I know I saw it! And not only that – I compared notes with a lot of other people who saw it.” Like many of us, Keel believes that he saw it in one of the men’s magazines (like Saga or True) that were so popular in the 1960’s. Most of these magazines dealt with amazing subject matter like Bigfoot, ghosts and more. Keel also remembers the photo in the same way that most of us do – with men wearing cowboy clothing and the bird looking like a pterodactyl or some prehistoric, winged creature. [John Keel even said specifically that the creature did not look like aarge vulture with a hooked beak, as Sanderson’s explanation had it. Keel said it had a long and pointed beak like a Pteranodon. This is quoted in such books as Jerome Clark’s Unexplained!-DD]

Interestingly, a reprint of the original article that appeared in Old West magazine caused a reader to remember another strange incident. He wrote to the magazine in the summer of 1970 and gave a firsthand account of a separate flying monster incident that also occurred near Tombstone. The writer had met two cowboys who told about seeing a similar creature around 1890, although they had shot at and chased the creature until their horses refused to go any further. This giant bird was not killed, brought to town or photographed. In fact, except for the fact that it was not shot down, their account sounds much closer to Bell’s original report.

During the 1990’s, the search for the “Thunderbird Photo” reached a point of obsession for those interested in the subject. A discussion of the matter stretched over several issues of Mark Chorvinsky’s Strange magazine and readers who believed they had seen the photo cited sources that ranged from old books, to Western photograph collections, men’s magazines, National Geographic and beyond. As for myself, I combed through literally hundreds of issues of dusty copies of True and Saga but could find nothing more than the previously mentioned article by Jack Pearl. If the photo exists, I certainly don’t have it in my own collection.

So, how do we explain this weird phenomena of a photograph that so many remember seeing and yet no one can seem to find? Author Mark Hall believes that the description of the photo creates such a vivid image in the mind that many people who have a knowledge and an interest in curious and eclectic things begin to think the photo is familiar. It literally creates a “shared memory” of something that does not exist. We think we have seen it, but we actually have not.

To be honest, I can’t say for sure if I agree with this or not. I can certainly see the possibility of a “memory” like this that we have created from inside of our own overcrowded minds, but then again, what if the photo does exist and it’s out there, just waiting to be discovered in some dusty garage, overflowing file cabinet or musty basement. I, for one, haven’t given up quite yet – and I have a feeling that I am not the only one who is still out there looking.

But are thunderbirds and mysterious flying creatures actually real? Do they fill the skies of anything other than our imaginations? If not, then what have so many people seen over the years? At this point, such creatures remain a mystery but one thing is sure, the sightings have continued over the years and occasionally an unusual report still trickles in from somewhere across America. So keep that in mind the next time that you are standing in an open field and a large, dark shadow suddenly fills the sky overhead. Was that just a cloud passing in front of the sun – or something else??

http://www.prairieghosts.com/tbirdaz.html

Late in the 1990s while working at IUPUI I had found a copy of a photo which I took to be the original of the “Lost” thiunderbird photo from a collection of photos purporting to represent surviving Pterosaurs on a Creationist website. It was in fact the same photo which Loren Coleman illustrates first in a Cryptomundo posting in March 2006

http://www.cryptomundo.com/cryptozoo-news/lost-t-bd-photo/

At this point, Coleman quoted another researcher who had published the photo without comment or caption. At the time, Coleman did not know me and I did not know the other fellow (the link Coleman posted at Cryptomundo for this person’s blog has long since gone dead) So, Later in 2006, I mentioned casually to Coleman that I thought I had a copy of the original Thunderbird photo. Not knowing about the other fellow, I sent Coleman another copy of the same photo. I gather Coleman did not take it well, for he never got back to me on the matter.

So WHY did I choose that anonymously-submitted example from the 1990s? Two things in particular: the first is that the bird did NOT match the usual idea of what the “Thunderbird” in the photo was supposed to look like, BUT it matched John Keel’s description specifically and exactly. And the second reason is that This copy is not a photograph, it is a photostat, as Sanderson’s copy was supposed to have been.

So WHY was everyone going around looking for a photo that showed a bird nailed to a barn with six cowboys standing under it with fingertips touchig to mark six fathoms? Because that was the remaining published description of the photo from Saga magazine. And WHY was nobody able to find the photo again? My guess was that the description was wrong: near enough right to ring a bell with people who had seen the montage but not exact enough that the original could be recognised again by going on the published description.

My solution as far back as the period the SITU was still up and active, was that the photograph had been a montage and could possibly have come in more than one variation: indeed some accounts mention more than one photo. Here is a copy of another reconstruction of what the photo was supposed to look like taken from one of the Cryptozoological discussion boards, original without credit but I would guess from Deviant Art. And please note it does NOT match the published description from Saga either:

Compare to the version at the top. The bird could be mistakenly remembered as being in the upside-down position when it was actually rightside up and people were remembering THAT photo; or else it is also possible that an alternate montage pasted on the figure of the bird upside down as well.

Here is another remembrance, with the witness this time inverting the bird to the rightside-up version as better representing what the witness remembered:

http://www.forteantimes.com/artic/105/thunder.html

In a letter to then-SITU President Bob Warth during the early 1990s I spoke of my belief that the photograph had been a montage and that I had seen what I thought was the same photo without the bird. I had been through the SITU’s files about the missing photograph at that point and I deduced that this following photograph of the death of outlaw John Sontag (1893) had been the BASE Photograph one or more montages had been built up on:

Another clever internet viewer later came to the same conclusion.

http://forum.treasurenet.com/index.php?topic=93640.0

As to where or when the original montage could have been made, it COULD have been made anytime after 1893: my guess is sometime in the early 20th century and possibly as an April Fool’s gag or possibly a souvenir postcard coming out of Tombstone Arizona or anywhere else in the Southwest. Possibly not the only variation of the idea in circulation, either. BUT The version shown at the top of this page is most likely the version in the possession of Ivan Sanderson and remembered by John Keel, because of the specific reasons given above.

Advertisements

About Admin

Since my very first sighting of a pretty large, silent and very bizarre object up in the sky (which I knew for sure was not a plane etc.), and that was around the age of 15, I started down the path of becoming very interested and then apart of paranormal phenomenon and doing investigations when I could. There had been and still is, many paranormal related events that have happened to me. This blog is my launching point to share it all. Other than all that, I'm just a guy who has been geeking it out with computers since 1986...the good old days when computers had character! I am also a guitar player for more than 20 years who has always been into and plays metal. 1980s, early 90's style metal. Aside from all that, I am very much into amateur radio (shortwave, HAM radio and so on). There's a lot more that I'm interested in, in life of course. I'm a person who gets into a pretty mixed bag of interesting things in life!

Discussion

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

Have a news tip?

Email your news tips to be posted in the Para News section.

Report your sightings

Have an experience, encounter or a sighting with the paranormal, such as ghosts, a UFO sighting, cryptid sightings etc., you'd like to share? Send in your true story or picture(s) of a paranormal experience to be included in the True stories section.

Contact the webmaster:

Questions, suggestions or comments? Drop me an email and I'll get back to you as soon as I can. Email the webmaster.

Cryptid News!

Cryptid News

Site Calender

May 2011
M T W T F S S
« Apr   Jun »
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
3031  

RSS Paranormal Phenomena

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

RSS Crypto News

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

RSS Para Videos

RSS Podcasts

  • Reality Denied - Paranormal Podcast 513 December 12, 2017
    Many strange things happen in the world that can't be explained by "rational" explanations. We talk to John B. Alexander about his experiences with the weird on this edition of The Paranormal Podcast. In part two, Cyndi Dale talks to us all about chakras! You can find their books at Amazon.com: Reality Denied: Firsthand Experiences with Things […]
  • Answers From Heaven - Paranormal Podcast 512 December 5, 2017
    What is the afterlife like? Do we survive death? On this episode of The Paranormal Podcast, we discuss these questions with author Theresa Cheung and medium Claire Broad.  You can find their new book at Amazon.com: Answers from Heaven: Incredible True Stories of Heavenly Encounters and the Afterlife In part two, Rev. Barry Downing joins us to talk about the […]
  • Erich von Däniken - Paranormal Podcast 511 November 28, 2017
    The legendary Erich von Däniken joins us on this episode of The Paranormal Podcast to talk about his career, the development of the ancient astronaut theory and his latest work. You can find his two newest books at Amazon.com: The Gods Never Left Us Astronaut Gods of the Maya Thanks to a true legend in his field! Note: Our sponsor Gaia is mentioned in the in […]
  • Encounter In The Desert - Paranormal Podcast 510 November 21, 2017
    A classic UFO case gets a reexamination that might propel it into legendary status. Kevin D. Randle joins us to talk about the 1964 Socorro case. In part two, Dr. Bryan Farha joins us to talk about skepticism. You can find Kevin's book at Amazon.com: Encounter in the Desert: The Case for Alien Contact at Socorro Thanks Kevin and Bryan! -GAIA- The Parano […]
  • The Paranormal Podcast Live At Sea - Paranormal Podcast 509 November 16, 2017
    This week's show was recorded live at sea on the beautiful Crown Princess during our Mysteries Cruise.  Our guests were Rosemary Ellen Guiley, Micah Hanks, and Matt Oakley. Rosemary enlightened us about Werewolves and Dogmen. Micah and Matt joined in on a wide range of topics. You can find Rosemary's book at Amazon.com: Fate Presents Werewolves and […]
  • Beyond The Bermuda Triangle - Paranormal Podcast 508 November 6, 2017
    The Bermuda Triangle is a mystery and we talk to a pilot who lived through its strangeness. Bruce Gernon is our guest on this week's Paranormal Podcast. You can find his book on the subject at Amazon.com: Beyond The Bermuda Triangle Thanks Bruce! -GAIA- The Paranormal Podcast is brought to you by Gaia, THE streaming TV service dedicated to exploring the […]
  • Real Nightmares with Brad Steiger - Paranormal Podcast 507 October 31, 2017
    The greatest writer on the strange and supernatural in history, the legendary Brad Steiger, joins us for a very special Halloween edition of The Paranormal Podcast. In part two, Richard Estep talks to us about a terrifying investigation. You can find Brad and Richard's books on Amazon: Real Nightmare Series on Kindle Spirits of the Cage: True Accounts o […]
  • Mind Over Matter - Paranormal Podcast 506 October 26, 2017
    Can we control matter with our mind? We discuss it with Professor Paranormal himself, Loyd Auerbach. In part two, we talk with Dominic Parker about his new app, Am I Psychic?  You can find Loyd's book at Amazon.com:  Mind Over Matter: A Comprehensive Guide to Discovering Your Psychic Powers  You can find all the info on Dominic's app at AmIPsychica […]
  • Consciousness and The Afterlife - Paranormal Podcast 505 October 18, 2017
    Dr. Eben Alexander & Karen Newell join us to talk about the nature of consciousness in part one of this week's Paranormal Podcast. In part two, Annie Mattingley joins us to talk all about the afterlife. You can find the books we talk about today at Amazon.com: Living in a Mindful Universe: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Heart of Consciousnes […]
  • Invasion on Chesnut Ridge - Paranormal Podcast 504 October 12, 2017
    One of the strangest places in America is the subject of this edition of the Paranormal Podcast. Filmmaker Seth Breedlove joins us to talk about the weirdness of Chesnut Ridge. In part two, we talk with author and researcher Timothy Beckley about the possibility that we are living in a computer simulation. You can find more info on Seth's movies at Smal […]

RSS Hot Topics!

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

RSS Most Popular

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

RSS Unexplained

  • Journey to the Akashic Records December 1, 2017
    Rob MacGregor: A detailed look at the out-of-body experiences of Wesley Meeks. He's a retired cop from Texas who kept a secret from his fellow officers for decades. Wesley Meeks has the ability to travel out of his body, and his journeys have taken him liter...
  • Physics, the Bible and the parting of the Red Sea November 2, 2017
    Sean Casteel: Sean Casteel on Reverend Barry Downing. Science and religion could end up complementing each other. New – more "radical" – trends in physics point to the existence of parallel universes and other dimensions which could assist in explaining man...
  • The real aliens: a survey of 'praying mantis' entity reports October 12, 2017
    Edward Crabtree: Edward Crabtree reports. Back in 1967 a child called Paul Nelson took a holiday with his parents and another male friend in Catalina Island off the coast of California. His buddy and he had bought some comic books and they seated themselves in...
  • Washingtonople: The secret history of America's capital: Part 3 September 25, 2017
    Conrad Yeats: From 'Raising Atlantis'. If indeed the Giza necropolis has been recreated on the banks of the Potomac in the form of America’s National Mall, then one final, vital landmark must still be discussed: The Sphynx, which anchors the east end of the...
  • Words as symbols September 11, 2017
    Kathleen Meadows: Kathleen Meadows explores the power of both the spoken and written word. We sometimes forget that when we're using words, we are passing symbols back and forth. This means we must make assumptions like for example, that we agree upon the meani...
  • The treasure of the Knights Templar August 30, 2017
    Sean Casteel: Did the Knights Templar have a connection to the paranormal ? *** Sometimes it seems like the "U" in "UFO" should stand for "ubiquitous," meaning they can show up anywhere and anytime. They make frequent appearances in our time, but their pres...
  • A haunted night at Stanley Hotel's Room 217 August 12, 2017
    Kirin Johnson: Kirin Johnson checks in. In March of 2017, I took a history and ghost tour at the Stanley Hotel. While I did not see or interact with any spirits, I felt intense energy in many areas of the hotel. I also caught some images of orbs with my cell...
  • Reshaping reality while living in an alternative universe August 3, 2017
    Sean Casteel: What exactly is reality ? *** Everything we think we know about the world and the universe in which we live, whatever we have been led to believe concerning the course of human history, could very well be completely wrong and misinformed. Ther...
  • Washingtonople: The secret history of America's capital: Part 2 July 24, 2017
    Conrad Yeats: From 'Raising Atlantis'.
  • Storytelling, advising and re-framing July 4, 2017
    Kathleen Meadows: Kathleen Meadows on the practice of Tarot reading. I met with a woman last week here in Victoria who is just about to launch a Tarot reading practice in northern Ontario. It was such a pleasure to meet with someone who is just at the starting...

RSS What’s Hot

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

Webmasters Pick!

More and more UFO sightings are being captured on video and more these days. Are we about to be apart of an actual contact event? Do you believe we are really being watched? Watch this DVD & you will not think the same way again!

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 34 other followers

Add to Technorati Favorites Dailygalaxy_150x35_026
Paranormal Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory
Join My Community at MyBloglog!
Paranormal Blogs - Blog Catalog Blog Directory

Subscribe & Share Here

Fair Use Notice

This site may or may not contain copyrighted material the use of which may not be specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific, social justice, and religious issues, etc., pertaining to paranormal issues. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.
%d bloggers like this: