Route 66 News

Bigfoot getting his kicks on Route 66?


This isn’t a story from the Weekly World News, but today’s Peoria Journal-Star. Tom Biscardi, founder of Searching for Bigfoot Inc., is convinced that the area around the Route 66 town of Funks Grove, Ill., which is just off Route 66, can support not one, but two of the mysterious creatures. The report says Biscardi visited the area this week.

This story doesn’t add up for a few reasons, even if you do believe in Bigfoot.

Biscardi and a four-man team of animal trappers traveled to Funks Grove early this week armed with infrared cameras, thermal imagers, motion cameras and tranquilizer guns.

Did they bring their tinfoil hats, too? And decoder rings? But I digress.

The Bigfoot search team was drawn to the area this week by a phone call last summer from Bloomington resident Chris Vielhak. Vielhak said he saw a large black creature he thought at first was a bear run behind his 1990 Mustang as he drove slowly down State Route 66. After he felt a slap to the side of his car, Vielhak said he was startled and sped away to discover five large claw marks on the trunk. Vielhak called Biscardi after doing some research on the Internet.

“It kept bugging me and fascinated me about what hit my car, and it ticked me off because paint jobs cost money,” said Vielhak, 31. “Many people may not believe me, that’s up to them. I walked with Tom and took him to where I saw it.”

There are a few things a little off about Vielhak’s story. First, wild bears have been gone from Illinois for many, many years and haven’t re-established themselves. Obviously, the sighting of a bear would be extremely rare. If I saw a bear running loose in the Land of Lincoln, that would have been every bit as startling as a Bigfoot. Both are creatures that should not be there. If I’d seen anything resembling a bear or a Bigfoot in Illinois, I’d be calling the sheriff, pronto.

Second, there is no state Route 66 in the Funks Grove area, nor has there been in the state of Illinois for decades. I’m going to assume the report is in error, and that it meant old Route 66.

Third, why did the Bigfoot team wait so long to investigate? Remember, the attack occurred during the summer. Didn’t it occur to anyone that the evidence trail now might be a tad cold?

Incidentally, Biscardi has photos from his Funks Grove visit / traveling museum.

Bob Schmalzbach, secretary for Searching for Bigfoot Inc., said the marks are not distinct enough to indicate the kind of creature that may have made them. Vielhak said he has no plans for wildlife experts to inspect the marks.

Why not? Doesn’t he think the Department of Natural Resources would be interested in a wild-animal attack, Bigfoot or no?

Illinois Department of Natural Resources spokesman Chris McCloud said there has never been a public demand to check possible sightings of a Bigfoot.

The IDNR deals with animals native to Illinois, and Bigfoot is not one of them, he said.

I would have liked to have seen McCloud try to keep a straight face answering that question.

If I sound like I’m skeptical, I am. I find it hard to believe that in a nation fast approaching 300 million people and more than 300 years of colonization, there hasn’t been one documented case of a Bigfoot remains being found.