"Considerable sensation has been caused in the towns of Topsham, Lympstone, Exmouth, Teignmouth, and Dawlish, in Devonshire, in consequence of the discovery of a vast number of foot tracks of a most strange and mysterious description."
The story is of an incredible multiplicity of marks discovered in the morning of Feb. 8, 1855, in the snow, by the inhabitants of many towns and regions between towns. This great area must of course be disregarded by Prof. Owen and the other correlators. The tracks were in all kinds of unaccountable places: in gardens enclosed by high walls, and up on the tops of houses, as well as in the open fields. There was in Lympstone scarcely one unmarked garden. We've had heroic disregards but I think that here disregard was titanic. And, because they occurred in single lines, the marks are said to have been "more like those of a biped than of a quadruped" — as if a biped would place one foot precisely ahead of another — unless it hopped — but then we have to think of a thousand, or of thousands.
It is said that the marks were "generally 8 inches in advance of each other."
"The impression of the foot closely resembles that of a donkey's shoe, and measured from an inch and a half, in some instances, to two and a half inches across."
Or the impressions were cones in incomplete, or crescentic basins.
The diameters equaled diameters of very young colts' hoofs: too small to be compared with marks of donkey's hoofs.
"On Sunday last the Rev. Mr. Musgrave alluded to the subject in his sermon and suggested the possibility of the footprints being those of a kangaroo, but this could scarcely have been the case, as they were found on both sides of the Este. At present it remains a mystery, and many superstitious people in the above towns are actually afraid to go outside their doors after night."
The Este is a body of water two miles wide.
London Times, March 6, 1855:
"The interest in this matter has scarcely yet subsided, many inquiries still being made into the origin of the footprints, which caused so much consternation on the morning of the 8th ult. In addition to the circumstances mentioned in the Times a little while ago, it may be stated that at Dawlish a number of persons sallied out, armed with guns and other weapons, for the purpose, if possible, of discovering and destroying the animal which was supposed to have been so busy in multiplying its footprints. As might have been expected, the party returned as they went. Various speculations have been made as to the cause of the footprints. Some have asserted that they are those of a kangaroo, while others affirm that they are the impressions of the claws of some large birds driven ashore by stress of weather. On more than one occasion reports have been circulated that an animal from a menagerie had been caught, but the matter at present is as much involved in mystery as ever it was."
In the Illustrated London News, the occurrence is given a great deal of space. In the issue of Feb. 24, 1855, a sketch is given of the prints.
London Times, March 14, 1840:
"Among the high mountains of that elevated district where Glenorchy, Glenlyon and Glenochay are contiguous, there have been met with several times, during this and also the former winter, upon the snow, the tracks of an animal seemingly unknown at present in Scotland. The print, in every respect, is an exact resemblance to that of a foal of considerable size, with this small difference, perhaps, that the sole seems a little longer, or not so round; but as no one has had the good fortune as yet to have obtained a glimpse of this creature, nothing more can be said of its shape or dimensions; only it has been remarked, from the depth to which the feet sank in the snow, that it must be a beast of considerable size. It has been observed also that its walk is not like that of the generality of quadrupeds, but that it is more like the bounding or leaping of a horse when scared or pursued. It is not in one locality that its tracks have been met with, but through a range of at least twelve miles."
In the Illustrated London News, March 17, 1855, a correspondent from Heidelberg writes, "upon the authority of a Polish Doctor of Medicine," that on the Piashowa-gora (Sand Hill) a small elevation on the border of Galicia, but in Russian Poland, such marks are to be seen in the snow every year, and sometimes in the sand of this hill, and "are attributed by the inhabitants to supernatural influences."
Share on Facebook
Tweet about this Piece
Poor Mojo's Tip Jar: