Whitehall, New York: Where Cryptids Converge. A visitor’s guide

Most people have likely never heard of the small town of Whitehall, in upstate New York, which is nestled at the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains. However, those folks interested in Cryptozoology and the unknown likely know of Whitehall as a hotspot for Bigfoot sightings and encounters over the years, included the infamous “Abair Road Incident” in 1978 involving various locals and law enforcement – making Whitehall perhaps the most prolific location for Bigfoot in the Northeast.

But do people know that the Bigfoot phenomenon in Whitehall brushes up directly with another notable regional Cryptid, Champ the monster of Lake Champlain? Lake Champlain starts (or ends) right outside of Whitehall and the Champlain canal runs directly through downtown Whitehall, which ultimately connects Lake Champlain to the Hudson River and the Atlantic Ocean to the south.

In recent years Whitehall has been under quite a spotlight nationally for Bigfoot. Whether featured in literary works such as the local Bartholomew brothers “Bigfoot Encounters in New York & New England” or Brian and Sue Gosselin’s “Abair Road the True Story”, to various news stories or television shows like MonsterQuest and Finding Bigfoot, it’s been covered extensively.

Fans of the prolific Small Town Monsters documentaries will know that Seth Breedlove covered the Abair incident and Whitehall extensively in his 2016 documentary Beast of Whitehall. In 2018 Whitehall would receive mention in another Small Town Monsters documentary, albeit not about Bigfoot this time. The area was mentioned in my On the Trail of…Champ documentary series, as some of the most prolific and fantastical Champ encounters of the 1870’s took place right near Whitehall in bordering Dresden and the small hamlets just north of there. The Whitehall Times published various articles about the nature of these sightings, culminating in a “serpent scare” that extended across much of the lake, resulting in armed hunting parties searching for the beast and P.T. Barnum even offering a hefty bounty on Champ’s head as a result.

While there have also been UFO sightings and other mystery creatures and phenomenon witnessed around Whitehall, it seems that Bigfoot and Champ have manifested themselves the most culturally in this area. That is quite evident in town. Whitehall has even named Bigfoot as its “official animal” and there is an annual “Sasquatch calling festival” held in town in the end of September. If you’re interested in Cryptid-based tourism, you’re in for a treat in Whitehall.

A must stop is Abair Road, just north of town. While there isn’t much to see aside from rolling hills, patches of land and forests, it is still cool to take a picture of the road sign and try and retrace the steps of the creature involved in the incident. Either way it’s a good starting point for a jaunt through Whitehall.

Yours truly with the sign for Abair Road.

Once you’re finished up with Abair road, you can stop by the Skene Valley Country Club on your way to town. It’ll be hard to miss their logo, complete with a Bigfoot on a golf course. Seasonally they will have a large metal Bigfoot statue on the course. Inside the country club itself you’ll find a “Welcome to Big foot Country” Coors Light banner as well as all sorts of club shirts, golf balls and hats with their name and Bigfoot mascot of course. The folks are friendly and if you mention Bigfoot you’ll fit right in. One of the owner’s even told me about how her father had seen a Bigfoot in 1975, prior to the Abair road incident, but kept it quiet for fear of ridicule, only going public when other sightings did many years later.

From there right down the road heading into town you’ll see a large Bigfoot statue (with young one on it’s back) right in front a store advertising souvenirs. Don’t let the Vermont Marble, Granite, Slate & Soapstone sign throw you off, as this store is less of a classic souvenir shop but more of a stone-shop with Sasquatch ambitions. They have all sorts of unique Bigfoot related items such as “Bigfoot Lives!...in Whitehall, New York” T-shirts, local Bigfoot sighting maps, magnets, stone crafted mugs, signed copies of Brian and Sue Gosselin’s “Abair Road The True Story” book and more. There is even a small glass display case with two supposed Bigfoot track casts. The owner said he plans on expanding the Bigfoot related merchandise, as well as oven fired pizza in the shape of a foot. Definitely a quirky place, but well worth the visit.

Metal Bigfoot statue in front of the stone-work/souvenir shop.

From there you can head directly into downtown Whitehall. Before you cross over the Champlain canal to the other side of town, check out the “Sasquatch Saloon”, a waterfront restaurant. They have a humorous logo and from what I’ve heard good food. Sadly they were closed for renovations when we visited. You might notice Bigfoot themed cutouts and signs around town, as it’s totally normal around there!

Left: Sasquatch enjoying a cold one on tap at the Sasquatch Saloon. Right: Bigfoot cutout and sign in front of the Champlain canal.

If you take a right after the bridge over the Champlain canal and head down Main street past the rustic storefronts and the Whitehall Marina, at the end of the road you’ll find “Champs Campground & RV park”, as well as “Champs Corner Pub & Grill”. Both have cool logos featuring no other than Champ the lake Monster. Champs Corner seems like a classic family run small restaurant, with great reviews. The owners even informed me that they frequently get Bigfoot researchers staying at the campground during the “squatching” season. One location we seemed to have missed was "Joe's Pizza, Bigfoots Wine & Liquor" on Broadway Street. From what I've seen the outside of the store has a metal Bigfoot statue and some cool art on the inside.

Signs for both Champ's corner grill and the campground and RV park.

If you choose to head left after crossing the bridge over the canal, you’ll see the Skenesborough museum to your left, as well as the remains of the USS Ticonderoga, sunk during the war of 1812 by the British on Lake Champlain (near Vergennes, Vermont). Just past the wreck you’ll see a building on your left, and tucked right in front of some stairs leading up to the building you’ll see a wooden statue of a Bigfoot with “Sasquatch” written right at it’s base. This cutout is often featured in videos and photos relating to Bigfoot in Whitehall. Great for a quick photo!

Left: The Champlain canal running through downtown Whitehall. Right: The popular Sasquatch carving in Whitehall.

From there be sure to see Lake Champlain’s South Bay. Get on Broadway Street (NY-22) and head north. After a few minutes you will begin to see the lake and soon after that the sign saying you’ve entered Dresden. Crossing the bridge, on your left you’ll see Lake Champlain’s South Bay with some epic mountains right behind it. The right side of the bridge is less dramatic of a view, but this is where Lake Champlain connects to the rest of the lake and resembles a wide river almost up until Port Henry (self-proclaimed Home of Champ) where the wider lake begins, going all the way up to Canada.

We chose to take a left off of route 22 onto Blue Goose Road, with the intent of driving all the way to the tip of South Bay (which we didn’t end up doing) and as a result we found a deteriorating wood carving of Champ, right by the fork in the road. To be fair the carving more closely resembled a green seahorse with white “Champ” lettering at the base. It’s tail appeared to have a fallen off sadly. If you choose to continue up route 22 towards Ticonderoga and Port Henry (lot’s of Champ related signs and statues there) you’ll catch glimpses of the lake to your right. Otherwise you can head back to Whitehall back across South Bay.

Left: South Bay, Lake Champlain. Right: Champ seahorse wood carving

Hopefully this will come of some use to you should you plan a visit to historic Whitehall. It’s always nice to see when a community embraces local legends in such a way that even those beyond the Cryptozoology subculture can have fun with it. Happy Cryptid hunting!

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *