Toledo Retiree Admits Bigfoot Hoax in 1982

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This week in 1982, a retired Toledo logger said he helped create the legends of a Bigfoot creature around Mount St. Helens.

Rant Mullens, 86, said he and his uncle were returning from a fishing trip in 1924 and decided to throw a scare into some miners in the area by rolling rocks toward them. Later, the three miners from Kelso reported seeing huge, hairy, apelike creatures that hurled boulders down upon their cabin. The miners said they fought off the creatures with rifle fire.

Mullens said he built on the legend four years later, when he whittled giant feet out of green alder wood. A friend stomped around the banks of the Muddy River, leaving tracks for berry pickers to notice.

"I tell you, people will believe just about anything," the solitary, retired logger said from his home in Toledo.

(Twenty years later, the family of Ray Wallace, another retired Toledo logger, said he had also contributed to the Bigfoot legend in the 1950s. Wallace died in late 2002 at age 84.)

Cattle Stare at Trains

From the first year of The Centralia (Weekly) Chronicle, in 1890

Local cattle presented a constant obstruction for passing trains, prompting The Chronicle to write, "It is a wonder that the Northern Pacific trains make time through this section in spite of the number of Lewis County cattle that cluster upon its tracks to stare at the locomotive."

Shoots Hand, Laughs Anyway

100 years ago, in 1907

A Castle Rock boy, Alvy Bemis, 15, ended up laughing despite receiving a painful wound after accidentally shooting himself in the hand this week with a revolver.

"The comical part of the affair was the fact that the bullet, after leaving the boy's hand, just grazed the tip of his dog's nose, and the antics of the animal almost made the boy forget his own injury for the time being," The Centralia News-Examiner wrote.

Tragedy Strikes Twice

75 years ago, in 1932

A Centralia woman, Mary E. Hines, 75, collapsed and died at her neighbor's house when she received word by telephone that her son had been killed in a logging accident.

William Robert Hines, 50, Oakville died while working at the Donovan-Corkery logging camp near Aberdeen. Although his mother didn't survive the news, Hines left behind a wife and four sons.

Oil Exploration

50 years ago, in 1957

The Shell Oil Co. announced it was opening a geological and survey exploration headquarters in Chehalis. The news meant "oil exploration on a major scale will be resumed over Lewis county and Southwest Washington shortly," The Daily Chronicle wrote.

Coal Tax Break

10 years ago, in 1997

The state Senate unanimously approved a bill late this afternoon to give the Centralia Steam-Electric Plant more than $130 million in tax breaks over the next 30 years. Sen. Dan Swecker, R-Rochester, said the bill would reduce emissions from the plant by 90 percent while preserving 700 jobs at the plant and adjacent coal mine.

The bill called for tax breaks on the installation of $264 million in pollution control scrubbers and would exempt the plant from sales and use tax on coal as long as the plant used at least 70 percent local coal.

Portable Classroom Burns

Five years ago, in 2002

A two-classroom portable building at Jefferson-Lincoln Elementary School was destroyed by fire early in the morning. The school lost a half-day kindergarten classroom and an English-as-a-second-language room, but the rest of the school escaped unharmed.

Rare Honor

One year ago, in 2006

The Chehalis Parent Teacher Association gave out its first-ever "Outstanding Educator" award. The PTA honored Ray Gundersen, who came out of retirement to fill in as principal at Olympic Elementary School. He agreed to fill in for a year after Principal Dion Labadie resigned when he was found in a motor vehicle at 3 a.m. with a 15-year-old girl.

From the Files of The Chronicle is compiled by Brian Mittge, who can be reached at brianmittge@hotmail.com or by calling 266-0568.