BRADFORD, Vt. — Up here in the bountiful forests of the Green Mountain state, things are starting to get strange.
The locals have begun to whisper. TV news folks have been sniffing around, trying to get to the bottom of things. And as word of a possible high-profile visitor quickly spread this week, officials in this sleepy town of 2,800 nestled along the Connecticut River have suddenly found themselves facing difficult questions.
“Are you calling about the Sasquatch?” asked the woman who answered the phone at the Town Clerk’s office one afternoon this week. “We’ve had a few of those today.”
Until recently, Bradford’s primary claim to fame has been its status as the first American city to manufacture globes. But as word of a possible Sasquatch — or Sasquatches — has generated considerable buzz, this little spit of Upper Valley countryside might’ve inadvertently stumbled into a new kind of notoriety.
It began last week, with a mysterious flier at the local post office.
Composed in large, typed font and tacked to a lobby bulletin board, the note addressed construction delays on the town’s Creamery Bridge, which crosses the Waits River and has been blocked off to traffic since the spring of last year.
Then, the message took a curious turn.
“The prolonged closure of the bridge is due primarily to deck replacement and NOT because of a displacement of or intrusion on a ‘Sasquatch’ or Bigfoot, either a single creature or several,” the bulletin said. “This is absolutely untrue and frankly, quite ludicrous.”
“These rumors born of agitated imaginations are to be ignored and disregarded.”
To date, the identity of the flier’s author remains unknown. The posting was unsigned, bears no official seal, and both the state agency overseeing the project and the town say they have released no such statement.
Since the original appeared more copies have popped up. Three were found on a table outside a local bookstore. Earlier this week, copies were tacked on various downtown bulletin boards — next to fliers for the annual all-church yard sale and offers of free kittens — and by midweek, it had reached that big, virtual bulletin board known as the Internet, where the online masses smelled conspiracy.
As one Twitter user put it: “A denial this strong is practically an admission.”
Alexander Chee, a Bradford resident and an associate professor of English and creative writing at nearby Dartmouth College, found himself harboring similar doubts after coming across the flier earlier this week.
“The denial is incredibly specific,” he said, “in the kind of way that makes you think that the person is lying.”
Whatever Sasquatch mischief may (or may not) have occurred in the vicinity, most residents seemed not to have encountered it.
“The only Sasquatch I’ve seen is my boyfriend,” said Sherry Brown, who was working the counter at Village Eclectics near Main Street.
Amy Cook, a local veterinarian, said, “I have not treated Sasquatch” — but added that she might not be able to say even if she had, given HIPAA restrictions.
Pearl Sullivan, whose backyard abuts the Waits River and sits just feet from the Creamery Bridge, remains mostly unconvinced that a creature is lurking near the banks. For one thing, her German shepherd, Sully, who often patrols the family’s backyard, would have almost certainly been sent into hysterics if a Sasquatch were to have gone stomping past.
“He’s very territorial,” she explains.
And yet . . .
“About a month ago,” she says, “my husband and my daughter and a couple of her friends swam a little ways down the river. There’s a part where the water gets really shallow, and I saw these huge footprints in the water. They just seemed way too big to be ours.”
“And then this comes along.”
So far, at least, the town’s weekly newspaper, the Journal Opinion, has refrained from covering the affair.
“We’re taking a very restrained approach to the Sasquatch story,” said managing editor Alex Nuti-de Biasi in his cluttered office this week — before allowing that it would “certainly change my mind if it becomes more than just water cooler talk.”
J.B. McCarthy, project manager with Vermont’s Agency of Transportation, which is overseeing the bridge construction, said he’s received “several calls” about the Sasquatch fuss.
“I just told them what was going on with the bridge,” he said, which is not much.
He said progress has been slowed by typical bureaucratic machinations, but is scheduled to be complete Oct. 25
In the absence of any concrete information, rumors have circulated about who might be behind the fliers.
Some have speculated about a person in town who, according to Nancy Hanger, who runs Star Cat Books, “spends a lot of time in Seattle,” where Sasquatch sightings are a thing, and “has access to high-speed printers and photocopiers.”
As she tended to the lunch rush on a recent afternoon at The Local Buzz, owner Sarah Copeland Hanzas mused about all the buzz. In addition to running the popular restaurant, Copeland Hanzas serves as a Vermont state representative and, in these rocky political times, wanted to make clear she would stand by all constituents.
“We’ll make sure that in addition to preserving the historic character of the bridge,” she said, “that they also preserve the Sasquatch habitat.”
Dugan Arnett can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @duganarnett.