Her grandfather’s name was George Huhn, and in the late 19th century he worked as an engineer on a train that ran along the US-Canada border.
One night, while they were passing through a forest somewhere in the middle of nowhere, their train hit something on the tracks and it was something so large that it damaged the cowcatcher – a device made of metal rods that was attached to the front of the train.
Below is her story:
“My name is Rita Swift. I live in Orange Co. California. In 1945, my grandfather George Huhn told me a story about the time his train hit a large Ape creature and bent the cow catcher on his train.
“This was in the 1880’s and he was an engineer on a train that ran along the borders of the US and Canada. It was night, and all of a sudden their train hit something and they stopped the train, because the cowcatcher was dragging on the tracks.
At first they thought it was a moose, but when they all got out with their lanterns, they discovered this huge smelly Ape, hung up in the catcher. They had only lanterns for light, and they were in the forest, basically in the middle of nowhere.
“It took most of the crew to pick it up and lift it into an open flat car. They noticed it was structured differently from a Gorilla of Ape, and smelled so bad, the crew got the smell on them.
“They left it on the flat car, because it took at least 2 hours to straighten out the cow catcher. Good thing my great grandfather was also a blacksmith. They were at least 2 hours from the next water tower and station of sorts.
“The break man noticed Indians sneaking around in the forest, but thought they had disappeared. When they were ready to go, the crew checked on their smelly passenger, but he was gone.
“They looked for tracks and decided the Indians had dragged it away into the forest and across a stream. They found the tracks and pieces of hair and of course the smell. They washed up in the stream and were glad to get rid of it. The smell had even remained in the flat car.
“My great grandfather took pieces of the hair back, and gave it to a doctor he knew in Michigan. They had all decided the creature had escaped from a circus or sideshow. Great grandfather thought it was 8 feet tall and weighed at least 500 lbs.
“It took six men to carry it off the tracks. When my daughter was a student at California State University at Fullerton in 1986, I met a Professor of Anthropology. The reason I was there, was I donated Indonesian Fighting Swords to her dept.
“They were very old and had belonged to my husband. I just didn’t feel comfortable having them in my home anymore. I noticed in her office she had information on the walls about Big Foot. I told her the story and she believed it was documented.
“My grandfather said the Ape had a different face than what he remembered of a Gorilla. He said the teeth were like humans, but extremely wide and large. The body hair was thick dark brown, with light tipping and the eyes were large and dark. He said they agreed it was a male because of it’s genitalia.
“Grandfather continued as a railroad engineer on the Colorado Wyoming line until he retired in 1925. He fought off outlaws with his six shooter from the cab. I have a photo of Grandfather with the crew, stopped in Eads, Colorado, with a large cannon hole in the side of the engine.
“This was in 1898, when some outlaws on horses pulled up an old Confederate cannon along the tracks, and fired at the engine. The crew chased them away, but left the train damaged. They were on their way to Durango carrying bank money from Denver.
“Grandfather would never tell stories that were not true. He was a devout Methodist, and said his prayers so loud every night, the whole house could hear him.
“He had originally come from Amish in Mercer, Co., Pa., but left to fight for the Union in the Civil War. His father did not accept his decision, and he never returned to Mercer Co. He was born in 1845 and died in 1947, in Claremont California.”