The final 59.5-second film, which the men would airmail back home to be developed, would soon become the world-famous Patterson-Gimlin film—arguably one of the most scrutinized pieces of video footage ever made. It is the cryptozoological equivalent to the Kennedy assassination’s Zapruder film. The film met immediate criticisms accusing Patterson and Gimlin of being master pranksters who simply filmed a man in an ape suit and laid fake footprints in the mud. ... More than 40 years later, the film has never been conclusively debunked. It has withstood scrutiny from scientists, forensic analysts, Hollywood special effects experts, and costume designers. No one can quite explain it—except those who believe in folklore. In that time, Bigfoot has evolved into a full-fledged American myth, propagated by a national congregation of believers who regard Gimlin as a kind of prophet. ... Patty, arguably, created the Bigfoot industry. Today, the apelike figure—frozen in its signature turn—adorns car air fresheners and infant onesies that read, “Believe.” It looks back from coffee cups, Christmas ornaments, guitar picks, and Band Aids. There’s a Patty-shaped Chia Pet. Bigfoot even has a home on reality TV: Animal Planet launched Finding Bigfoot in 2011, starring Washington’s Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization (BFRO). BFRO members lead guided backwoods expeditions—with a price tag of up to $500—throughout the U.S. where participants scour the forests for a look at the fabled beast.
In the rugged Colorado Desert of California, there lies buried a treasure ship sailed there hundreds of years ago by either Viking or Spanish explorers. Some say this is legend; others insist it is fact. A few have even claimed to have seen the ship, its wooden remains poking through the sand like the skeleton of a prehistoric beast. ... The legend does seem, prima facie, bonkers: a craft loaded with untold riches, sailed by early-European explorers into a vast lake that once stretched over much of inland Southern California, then run aground, abandoned by its crew and covered over by centuries of sand and rock and creosote bush as that lake dried out…and now it lies a few feet below the surface, in sight of the chicken-wire fence at the back of the Desert Dunes motel, $58 a night and HBO in most rooms. ... there are believers who insist that, using recent advances in archaeology, the ship can be found.