The Borrego Sandman (1939 - Present)
Written By: Ken
Many of you are undoubtedly familiar with the
legends of Bigfoot and all of his ape-like kin who are reported to
dwell in the numerous remote wilderness areas and swamps throughout
North America. These vast areas where man seldom treads provides a
perfect refuge for these creatures where food and water are
plentiful and protection from the elements can be easily attained.
It may come to your surprise that the legendary
monster is also a desert dweller as well.
As hard as it may be to fathom there are many
reports from the vast deserts of Southern California of
Sasquatch-like creatures roaming the sand, much like they do in the
lush forest. These very dry areas with little vegetation, and almost
no water supply would seem like the last place that a
6-t0-10-foot-tall animal that weighs upwards of 400 pounds, and not
to mention is covered with thick fur, would want to call home, yet
the sheer number of Bigfoot sightings in these areas are too
numerous to ignore.
In the late 1960s reports of Bigfoot sightings in
the desert towns of Lancaster and Palmdale reached a feverish pace
that lasted well into the 1970s, then tapered off. Though these
areas border on the Mojave desert, they also border on the Angeles
National forest, so it wouldn't seem to unlikely that the creature
could have been lured out of the wilderness and into the desert for
some unknown reason.
More bizarre are the stories that have surfaced from
nearby Edwards Air Force Base, that is farther inland and farther
from the forested areas near Los Angeles, of frequent intrusions by
creatures that match the description of Bigfoot. As the story goes,
Base Security is in possession of several surveillance video tapes
that plainly show giant, up-right, apes trespassing in the numerous
underground tunnels under the facility. How, or where, the Bigfoot
break into, or gain access to these tunnels has never been revealed,
obviously for security reasons, but reportedly these incidents
happen rather often, and are a nuisance.
The Mojave Desert and Death Valley are two of
Southern California's more famous barren areas, but there is also a
stretch of inhospitable desert that stretches from the Mexican
border northward to the edges of the San Bernardino mountains. This
area to has had it's share of Sasquatch sightings over the decades,
and this is the area I wanted to focus on today.
The desert wilderness of the Anza-Borrego area has
been home to many a tall-tale and several strange events over the
past several hundred years. Many a desert rat has emerged from the
region with tales of a mysterious Spanish ship filled with pearls
inexplicably marooned in the sand, or of a Viking boat embedded in
the rock, strange lights in the night skies, and most commonly, of
vast quantities of gold just waiting for some lucky prospector to
It was undoubtedly the lure of these reported gold
deposits that first lured the white man into this desolate area and
it is from one of these fortune hunters that the first report of
Bigfoot, or the Borrego Sandman as it is known in these parts, came.
Reportedly in 1939 a prospector, who when interviewed in the 1970s
wished to remain anonymous, was attacked by a large group of
upright-walking-apes as he camped near the Borrego Sink. The
frightened man described the creatures as very large, covered in
white fur, with glowing red eyes. The only thing that saved the man
from the attack was the fact that the monsters were afraid of his
Another report of giant footprints from that same
general area came from a man named Victor Stoyanow in 1964. His
story was retold in a famous article in SAGA magazine entitled,
"America's Terrifying Woodland Monster-men" in 1969. The piece also
featured the story of Harold Lancaster, a miner who encounter the
Sandman in 1968. Here is an excerpt:
Gold prospectors and treasure hunters frequently
seek their lost bonanzas in isolated areas. Since 1964, treasure
hunters in the Borrego Valley desert in California have whispered
about "the Abominable Sandmen of Borrego." The arid area is near the
Mexican border, it is virtually uninhabited. There are many
fissures, caves and crevasses in the Superstition Mountain region
and prospectors say the Cocopah Indians have told of a subterranean
labyrinth under the mountain, Maj. Victor Stoyanow was seeking an
access into the Superstition Hills in January 1964, when he noticed
large, humanoid tracks in the sand dunes. "The prints ran in pairs,
generally parallel and averaged about 14 inches in length and nine
wide at the instep," Major Stoyanow declared. He returned to the
desert on several other occasions, made plaster casts of the prints,
and snapped photographs."Curious as I am, I hope that the person who
discovers what kind of beast it is doesn't happen to be me." Major
Stoyanow said after his thorough investigation into the tracks.
The San Diego Union ran an unverifiable article some
years ago of a "sandman" that was shot by hunter Frank Cox at
Deadman's Hole, near Warner, California in San Diego County. The
beast was described as a cross between "a man and a bear." The head
was rather small, with protruding teeth and powerful jaws. The
muscular creature had feet that measured 24 inches in length and the
body weight was estimated to be 400 pounds.Harold Lancaster,
treasure hunter, was prospecting in the Borrego Sink, east of the
settlement of Borrego Springs. California in July 1968, when he saw
a "sandman." "I was camped up on a mesa one morning when I saw a man
walking in the desert," he reported. "The figure came closer. I
thought it was another prospector. Then, I picked up my binoculars
and saw the strangest sight in my life."It was a real giant apeman,"
Lancaster said. "I had heard about the screaming giant apeman up in
Tuolumne County that frightened people for a couple of years.
Another person and I even went up there to look for the thing. I
decided it was a hoax and never expected to actually see one."
As the "sandman" drew closer, Lancaster became
worried. "That thing was big. I was no match for it," he reported.
"I had a .22 pistol on my hip but it would have been like shooting
at a gorilla with a pea shooter. I was afraid the beast might get
too close. So, I fired a couple of rounds into the air. The sandman
jumped a good three feet off the ground when the sounds of the shots
reached him. He turned his head, looked toward me and then took off
running in the other direction!"Why didn't Lancaster shoot the
alleged sandman? "I was afraid," he admitted. "They should be
protected. They're a form of a human, a primitive species. It would
be murder to kill one. They should be studied."
Reports from the area continue to this day. In 1998 some hikers
discovered a set of strange footprints near Boundary Peak, close to
the Mexican border. Likewise in 1993 a hiker saw a Bigfoot, um
...... using the restroom on the La Jolla Indian Reservation.
Reports have also surfaced from military personnel at Camp Pendleton
who had encounters with the creature while on maneuvers during the
1960s and 1980s.