Marissa Does Portland - And Meets Big Foot | Community Spirit
I traveled through time and space to where some of the world's rarest and most bizarre creatures live. I stood face to face with Sasquatch and examined what could be his scat; I locked eye with the Minnesota Ice Man, as he only has one... and it's fallen out of its socket; I determined that the Casco Bay Sea Monster is either as it's name suggests or a just moose wading in the water; I uncovered elusive "Harry and the Henderson's" memorabilia which shockingly still exists today. And it all happened right here in Portland -- at the Cryptozoology Museum on Congress Street. Tucked away into the far, back corner of a delightfully unsuspecting bookstore, Loren Coleman and his wealth of precious relics sit waiting for anyone with a bit of curiosity to stumble his way. And stumble I did...
This isn't the kind of place you go alone so I made sure that one of my favorite people in the world was there to witness it with me. The lovely Bill Krieger came all the way from Florida to see what was behind all those books (well, that and to see me). The two of us wandered into the museum and were puzzled to find only a bookstore. As book lovers, that only encouraged Bill and I to stay and browse. Eventually we found our way to Loren and his collection. He welcomed us into his little lair and we began exploring the realm of the unexplained and the undiscovered. Cryptozoology literally means the study of hidden animals. Cryptozoologists, like Loren, spend their lives searching for animals that have not yet been discovered or have not been proven to exist by biologists. Most of them seem pretty crazy and bizarre -- like Sasquatch and the Chupacabra -- but not so many years ago, species like the panda bear and the gorilla did not exist among scientists and would have elicited some raised eyebrows as well (the gorilla was discovered in 1901 and the panda in 1936). The museum was a collection made up of 2,000+ random items. Some were artifacts while others were recreations of artifacts, some were paintings while others were just action figures or toy replicas. While some of it was pretty interesting (the furry trout for instance), some of it just took up space (the Crocodile Hunter figurine). The one room exhibition is pretty small but is absolutely chock full of stuff! Bill and I perused on our own for a while. We were particularly fascinated by the Minnesota Ice Man, the samples of hair and scat that potentially belonged to Big Foot at one time, and the Feejee mermaids. However, we both found Loren far more entertaining than anything in his collection. Loren Coleman has written more than 15 books and over 300 articles. He's appeared a number of times on the Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, and right here on WCSH 6. He's been featured on CNN, "Unsolved Mysteries," and is part of a special feature included on the Mothman Prophecies DVD (the movie starring Richard Gere). He's been an expert on the topic since 1969 and doesn't appear to be slowing down. He was a pretty charismatic guy and his passion for cryptozoology oozed out of his pores. He practically jumped on anyone who waltzed into the museum (including Bill and I), offering detailed explanations and historic relevance to all of his 2,000+ items. We, along with two senior citizen women who walked in around the same time, were treated to a personalized tour of the museum. He told us about his many stints on television and the research he had done all over the world. He explained why he didn't believe in the Chubacabra and why he did believe in Big Foot. He even told us about some local tales that have grown and festered in Maine for centuries. One that stuck out was Cassie, the Casco Bay sea serpent. Cassie supposedly lives in the waters just off of Portland. She's been spotted a number of times, dating as far back as the 1770s and as recently as 1958. However, according to Loren, her fan base isn't quite what the Loch Ness Monster's is, yet, because there hasn't been a t-shirt campaign. I hear a promotional campaign? Whether or not you believe that there is a big foot and whether or not you put faith into creatures such as the hairy trout or the feejee mermaid, the Cryptozoology museum is a great place to go to become a part of the ongoing tales surrounding them. I don't know if anything in there is real. And frankly, I don't care. Because for the hour I spent inside Loren's little world, the real and the made up sort of blended together. All of the creatures that swim around inside that man's head overflow into the museum and you can't help but to get sucked under. And if nothing else, you leave with some pretty funny things to think about...
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