I've spent half a century (yikes) writing for radio and print—mostly print. I hope to be still tapping the keys as I take my last breath.
Who Is the Billiwhack?
He was ape-like and hairy. He was tall and had the head of a ram complete with curved horns. And, he appeared from time to time on lonely roads near Santa Paula, California, south of Los Angeles.
The Downfall of the Billiwhack Dairy
In the 1920s, Billiwhack Ranch in Ventura County was home to a herd of Holstein cows that produced milk for Los Angelinos. The Rubel family that ran the farm and dairy possessed a prize bull named Prince Aggie. However, the bull died with the family suspecting foul play. The dairy ran into financial trouble and was sold. It continued to operate as a dairy until 1942, when another mystery about the farm emerged. Stories started to go around that the place was being used by the U.S. government to develop top-secret weaponry.
The First Sightings of the Monster
Sometime in the 1950s, a nine-year-old claimed to have been attacked by a strange and frightening creature. The thing, he said, had claws that left nasty gashes on his arm.
Mysterious Universe reported that “In another case a teenager from the local high school bravely ventured into the old abandoned dairy and claimed to have seen what he rather cryptically called a ‘snarling, hairy man in a hole.’”
Then, in 1964, a couple of hikers claimed a hairy monster with ram’s horns stalked them for several hours. Many motorists have also reported a large beast pounding on the hoods of their cars.
Sometimes, the critter is reported to carry a large club, and at others, it hurls 50-pound rocks. After the 1960s, the Beast of Billiwhack seems to have taken a long rest.
The Military Experiments Theory
Of course, such strange goings-on have to be the work of hush-hush government operations. This takes us back to August Rubel, the Swiss immigrant who started the Billiwhack Farm. The story goes that Rubel was associated with the Office of Strategic Services, a group that morphed into the Central Intelligence Agency.
Allegedly, there is a complex of tunnels and rooms underneath the farm where scientists worked to create some sort of invincible soldier. The result of their experiments was a bipedal 10-foot tall hybrid with a ram’s head that some locals call Chivo Man.
Richard Senate, a ghost hunter and author, told the BBC that the monster turned on the scientists and “killed them, like Frankenstein. He ran away into the hills where he lives to this very day. Some say he still lives in the tunnels underneath the Billiwhack Dairy.”
The Pseudoscience of Cryptozoology
All over the world, people report seeing strange creatures that those who study these rumoured animals call cryptids. There’s Scotland’s Loch Ness Monster, there’s the Yeti of the Himalayas, and the Sasquatch/Bigfoot of North America.
Occasionally, blurred film or photographs appear of these mythical creatures; sometimes, there’s a footprint or a bit of fur snagged on a branch. For people called cryptozoologists, such elusive clues are enough to prove the existence of cryptids.
Proper scientists require more than fuzzy, will-o-the-wisp apparitions. Actually, they can demolish the cryptid stories without breaking a sweat. Professor Donald Prothero is a paleontologist with training in biology and geology. He told National Geographic that the only evidence of these strange creatures is eyewitness accounts and that “People are fooled by their senses, especially sight, because we are notoriously bad witnesses.” One man electrified the world’s media with his sighting of the abominable snowman. On closer inspection, his Yeti turned out to be an oddly shaped rocky outcrop.
Monsters That Are Real
Sometimes, creatures believed to be mythical turn out to actually exist. Hundreds of years ago, people in Europe heard stories of huge human-like creatures living in African jungles—monsters that locals called “enge-ena.” This powerful animal must be some sort of ogre, the curious reasoned. In 1847, an American missionary got his hands on a skull of the beast. It turned out to be the western lowland gorilla.
In Scandinavian mythology, the Kraken was believed to be a sea monster with masses of tentacles that pulled ships and their crews to watery graves. Lutheran bishop Eric Ludvigsen Pontopiddan described the monster in 1752 as “round, flat, and full of arms.” Late in the 19th century, a Kraken body washed up on the shore of Newfoundland. Scientists identified it as a giant squid.
There were Indonesian folk stories of a race of little people that were called “Ebu Gogo,” which translates into “grandmother that eats everything.” They were believed to steal children and food from people on the island of Flores. In 2003, scientists found the remains of small humans in caves on the island and classified them as homo floresiensis. These people stood just over a metre (three and a half feet) tall and may have gone extinct just 12,000 years ago.
But, the Beast of Billiwhack will remain a figment of the imagination; however, that won't stop the dedicated believers from pursuing their quarries.
- Mokele-mbembe is alleged to be a dinosaur that survived the great extinction 66 million years ago. It is said to be the size of an elephant with a long neck and to live in swampy areas of the Congo. In the early 1900s, the belief that such beasts still existed in hitherto unexplored regions was widely accepted.
- Bernard Heuvelmans was a Belgian explorer and scientist who is described as the “father of cryptozoology.” In 1955, he published a large book, On the Track of Unknown Animals, that’s still in print and has sold more than a million copies. However, the yet-to-be-discovered animals he described remain yet-to-be-discovered.
- If you have the time and money you can go on a Yeti hunt. You will need a permit from the Nepalese government that costs 5,000 rupees ($48.50). On top of that, there’s the cost of getting to Nepal, accommodation, and guiding costs. The Washington Post encourages people to spend their money on something else: “You won’t find a Yeti in Yeti habitat. But, if you’re lucky, you might stumble upon a bear.”
- “The Billiwhack Monster.” Weird California, undated.
- “Strange Creatures and Surreal Entities in Ventura County, California.” Brent Swancer, Mysterious Universe, July 10, 2018.
- “The Monster of All US Conspiracy Theories.” BBC News, September 24, 2019.
- “The Science Behind Bigfoot and Other Monsters.” Rachel Hartigan Shea, National Geographic, September 9, 2013.
- “Rumor or Reality: The Creatures of Cryptozoology.” Ker Than, livescience.com, December 21, 2010.
- “Scientists DNA Tested Nine ‘Yeti’ Samples. They Didn’t Find Bigfoot.” Ben Guarino, Washington Post, November 29, 2017.
© 2019 Rupert Taylor
SilasHinkle on October 09, 2019:
Cryptozoology is not a pseudoscience!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!