The Monster of Iron Bound Bay
By; John W. Worman
August, Seventeen eighty-nine, San Buenaventura Mission, Southern California. The local government has officially decreed that all Indians will be accounted for and domesticated. If they can't or won't be civilized, they are to be exterminated! Simply put, the Mexicans are tired of hostiles raiding their farms and villages.
Following their directive, the Mexican Army was having particular trouble with several bands of Indians located north of what is now known as the town of Filmore. As a result, the Mexicans had indiscriminately massacred the majority of the native population in what is now Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties. There was one small band of aborigines, however, that did a good job of eluding their assassins. This group of Indians was different than all the other tribes. They were not only highly intelligent, they were also very athletic. But more significant, they were the teachers, the thinkers and the spiritual healers for the entire region. They were loved by other Native American Indians and formed the core of a peaceful society. However, the one single thing that made them stand out was, the average man stood eight and half feet in height and weighed around two hundred and thirty pounds.
The Mexicans didn't know these Indian people. They didn't know about the kindness, the intelligence or the gifts that this magnificent race brought to the land. Instead, the Mexicans feared the threat of something they didn't understand. As a result, they exchanged exaggerated rumors and became intent on destroying every breathing member of that aboriginal race. After several months of pursuit and slaughter by a merciless army, only a few of these elegant people remained alive.
The story tells us that on one fateful afternoon the Mexican Army stumbled upon a man and a woman giant grieving over a dying child. Without compassion, the soldiers began firing their weapons wildly, hitting the male giant in the shoulder. The wound was not fatal, however, and the injured man killed five armed men with his bare hands during his and his wife's escape. The soldiers retreated for reinforcements and the next day they set out for their revenge. After days of searching, they found the two giants. But the giants ran and kept their distance; the military force couldn't get close enough to fire accurately.
What happened next was a nightmare beyond imagination. The giants, who were on foot, ran west toward to Pacific Ocean with fifty-three Mexicans in hot pursuit on horseback. That relentless chase continued for over thirty kilometers, through hillsides and valleys of cutting Manzanita and chaparral with no place to hide. It finally ended on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
One Lieutenant's journal entry may describe it best: "Our horses were half dead with exhaustion. We pursued that man and woman for damn near three hours that scorching July afternoon. I'll never understand where they got their speed and stamina. They can outrun our fastest horses. We finally chased them to a fifty-meter cliff overlooking the ocean about thirty kilometers north of the San Buenaventura Mission. Even though we only got within about twenty meters of them, I could plainly see that they were exhausted. Their bodies were bloody from the wounds they had received from our pursuit. They looked at us. Through my half broken telescope I saw sadness in their faces. Our Captain gave orders to charge, but we couldn't get there fast enough to capture them. The man and woman took each other's hand and jumped from the cliff and into the pounding surf below. When we got to the cliff's edge they were gone, there was nothing left to see. We never found their bodies. But from that height, who could survive? As I write this I wonder, did we send a race to extinction simply because of our own selfishness and lack of understanding? Whatever, orders are orders; they are to be obeyed! That was the end of all hostilities; all the remaining Indians are now quietly submitting to our law. The hills of the Buenaventura are safe for our blessed women and children. Praise be to the Virgin Mother!"
June, Nineteen-thirty-three: There's a peaceful island off the coast of Los Angeles, California, named Santa Catalina. On this island is a natural harbor named Iron Bound Bay. The unique thing about this bay is its position on the island; even when the ocean storms are at their worst, Iron Bound Bay is calm and peaceful. It's a natural haven for small craft during foul weather. But there's something else unique about this bay, too. Around the turn of the twentieth century people believed there was a monster that inhabited there. The legend was that on dark moonless nights a monster would kill crews and sink any craft foolish enough to venture into that beautiful cove.
A young man named John and his bride, Ellen, were on the fifth day of their honeymoon. For the event, they borrowed a thirty six-foot cabin cruiser from the brides father. The family owned a mooring at Avalon, but the newlyweds had been out fishing for most of the day and in the afternoon the sea began to get extremely choppy. So they did what any smart sailor would do. They set anchor in a calm natural harbor...Iron Bound Bay.
The squall lasted for two days, but the newly weds certainly didn't care. Enamored with each other, they had plenty to occupy them. The third night found the seas calm, the skies clear and moonless, a dream. And because the night was warm, the bride and groom decided the sleep on the deck. As the night progressed, they laughed and played like kids who were delighted with all the possibilities of life...that is until something grabbed hold their anchor chain and began dragging the boat slowly toward shore. Frantically John began trying to save his and his wife's fate from a rocky death. He cut the anchor loose while Ellen started the twin diesel engines, throwing them into a riveting reverse. As they accelerated from their doom, John turned a spotlight toward the shoreline. He saw a sight he'd never forget. Dragging itself from the water was a giant of a man. He must have stood somewhere between eight and nine feet tall and was completely engulfed in hair.
When the couple got back to Avalon and safety, they had convinced themselves that they must have been over reacting and really didn't see what they thought they had; perhaps it was a trick of the light. As a result, John and Ellen concluded that it might be unwise to share their experience with anyone.
About five years later, John and Ellen were at a cocktail party. John found himself listening to a story about giant hairy ape-man found in Northern California, told by an anthropologist from Cal-Tech. Later that evening John approached Dave, the anthropologist, in private. John told him about his experience that moonless night in Iron Bound Bay. Instantly, Dave was interested even though a little disbelieving, because Big-Foot sightings in Southern California had no precedent.
During the months that followed, John and Dave became better acquainted. One afternoon over a beer, they decided to go back to Iron Bound Bay in search of John's mystery monster. A Southern California sighting of Big-Foot would be a first and a great career booster for Dave, if true!
Again, John borrowed the cabin cruiser from his father-in-law and they set out for Catalina Island. But this time it was a little different, since Dave was a scientist, they were heavily equipped with photographic equipment and high intensity industrial lighting fixtures. They also had side arms and a shotgun, just in case.
As soon as they got to Iron Bound Bay, John helped Dave set up a network of cameras and lights on the beach. Most of the cameras had trip wires so that they could be automatically activated by the creature's approach. Then, once their preliminary work was finished, John and Dave scoured the surrounding area for signs or tracks that might lead to the monster's whereabouts. None were found, however.
Several days and nights passed. A few fishing boats came and went. One afternoon a disobedient cow a camera stand and light tripod. Still, they saw no signs of anything out of the ordinary. On the forth day, late in the afternoon, John was hiking on top of a large cliff overlooking the south side of the bay. It was normal to see cow trails zig-zagging across the terrain. However, after careful scrutiny, John realized there was trail one slightly different from the rest. This trail was deeper and didn't have the classical hoof marks associated with any livestock he'd ever seen. What was more telling, the trail headed straight for the edge of the cliff, then began to zig-zag down its steep face. John was certain that he was on to something now; narrow and tortuous, no cow could ever make this trek.
Carefully traversing the cliff's face, John followed the trail's whim. Near the bottom of the cliff, yet inaccessible from the beach, the trail ended at the mouth of a cave. Cautiously, John drew his side arm, then carefully peered inside. Except for the crashing surf below, there was no sound. There was almost no sea breeze. At first he was not sure any living thing could be here; the entrance to the cave felt empty. However, the cave's mouth was too clean and tidy to be left totally unattended. Unlike most of the surrounding rock, there was almost no bird debris. John rested for several minutes just inside the caves entrance in order to let his eyes become dark acclimated. Then, as he progressed further into the cave, the telltale signs he'd been looking for were everywhere. There were cow bones neatly stacked into a small room that was obviously manmade. In another room there was a crude bed made out of animal skins. There were even primitive tools that could be used for grinding, scraping and pounding. Finally, he had seen enough.
That evening, back aboard the cabin cruiser, John described the cave to Dave in exacting detail. Excited, they agreed to set up some photographic equipment near the cave's entrance the following morning.
An hour before dawn both men were startled awake from sound sleep by a loud crash and the boat lurching smartly to starboard. Before either man could get to their feet they were thrown back onto their bunks by debris plummeting from the galley. After minutes of thrashing around in the dark, John finally managed to get topside. They had run aground. Photoflash bulbs were lighting the beach like the Forth of July and, letting go of an unearthly shriek, a dark shadow streaked for nearby cover. In a few moments it was all over.
As soon as they had mornings light, John and Dave began assessing the damage. Their boat was smashed and now teetered on rock since the tide was out. Much of the camera equipment had been scattered and ruined. Almost all of the food in the galley was inedible due to flooding. The boats electrical system was damaged beyond repair making radio communications impossible. Quite simply, they were now shipwrecked and the only way back to civilization was on foot, over land.
John and Dave quickly got together what supplies they could. They gathered all the photographic equipment they could find and hid it for safe keeping. But before setting out for Avalon, Dave wanted a look at the cave. John wasn't sure it was a good idea but, compelled by his own curiosity, he found himself talked into it. After all, Dave was the scientist and science was what this adventure was all about. So they agreed, John would stand guard on top of the cliff while Dave descended. If there was any problem, John would fire three shots into the air with his side arm. Dave agreed to do the same.
All was going well. Dave had examined the contents of the cave and was just about finished; systematically, he managed to shoot several rolls of film and he was now gloating over his accomplishment.
Unexpectedly there was a shotgun blast. Dave ran to the cave's mouth only to hear a second blast. Dropping his camera and backpack, he pulled out his side arm and began scrambling up the cliff's face. It wasn't long before he heard a third blast, finally a forth.
Exhausted, Dave reached the top of the cliff in record time, but as he did, he fell to his knees. His mouth was now as dry as desert sand and he didn't see John anywhere. The remaining silence was deafening. He wanted to call out but was afraid to. After what seemed an eternity, and upon regaining some of his strength, Dave began a systematic search of the area. Finally he found what he was looking for, in fact more than what he was looking for. At the base of a very large Scrub Oak tree lay John's broken body. Near John, about two yards away, lay the hairy form of an overgrown primate; it was covered with blood and whimpering. Dave carefully approached the horror, and as he did, the hairy beast began to stir. What he saw that day stuck with him for the rest of his life.
The beast looked at Dave, and in that terrified face, Dave saw intelligence. He realized, in fact maybe the only white-man to ever realize, the beast was humanoid. It was crying.
Suddenly, as if propelled by a gigantic spring, the beast shot to its feet and disappeared into nearby chaparral. As it ran, it let out a screech of terror that Dave had nightmares about for years to follow.
Dave carried John's body back to Avalon. John's face was crushed almost beyond recognition.
Over the course of the next two years Dave's experience, along with some childhood issues now surfaced, he was forced to seek psychotherapy. He was weary from his terrible nightmares and didn't want to face the horror from that dreadful morning. However, finally a day came when he was strong again and he could go back. Yes, Dave formed an expedition of scientists and technicians. Equipped with photography and recording equipment they revisited the cave at Iron Bound Bay. In that cave they found the skeleton of a giant humanoid; the poor creature had obviously died from a hole in the side of its skull, created by a shotgun blast.
If you're ever on Catalina Island, stop by the Avalon museum. If you have the courage, check out the eight and a half foot primate skeleton on display there. Pause and think for just one brief moment. Consider that our kind (modern day humans) are systematically destroying all other life forms on this planet. Why? We either think it's unimportant, it might do us harm, it might be profitable, or, we simply don't understand.
The challenge for our survival in the new millenium is to take care of and protect our planet. This means putting old paradigms behind us, to be creative and open to new possibilities. Simply ask yourself the question: If we don't take care of the planet Earth, where are we going to live?
If humankind is to survive, it means protecting all species, all beings, organic and inorganic. Because, you, too, have a belly button; life is a gift!
© Copyright, October 1987, John W. Worman