Summary of the Thunderbird Article
By Ravenshadow13 because I am just a nice person.
-If there is a photo, where is it. If not, why do people think that there was.
-Originally tracked to Tombstone Epitaph publication in April, 26, 1890. but everybody refuses to have the article but some claim to have seen it. Some refuse that the article ever existed.
-Author finds article at the University of Arizona, but no picture is included.
two ranchers were riding in the desert between Whetstone, Arizona, and the Huachuca Mountains in late April, 1890, when they came upon a "winged monster resembling a huge alligator with an extremely elongated tail and an immense pair of wings" They shot the monster again, mortally wounding it. Upon examination they found that it was ninety-two feet long with a diameter of up to fifty inches. It had two feet, located a short distance in front of where the wings were joined to the body. The beak was about eight feet long, with strong, sharp teeth.
The eyes were as large as dinner plates and protruded from the head. The wings measured seventy-eight feet, making the total length from tip to tip about one hundred and sixty feet. The wings were composed of a thick, nearly translucent membrane. The wings and body were hairless and featherless. The men cut off a small portion of the tip of one wing and took it home with them. One man then went into Tombstone to make preparations to skin the creature.
-Mention of the photo in 1972 issue of Sanderson's journal called "Pursuit."
-John Keel states that he saw the image of the creature nailed to the bar with men standing in front of it. Rustic picture, dated to 1880s. Says photo appeared before 1966.
-Keel changed his description later on and he has some strange views and claims on other mysterious issues.
While visiting Arcturus Book Service in Albany, New York in May of 1986 I was leafing through a number of old magazines in a box on one of the shelves when I saw the infamous Thunderbird Photo."
In a later followup interview with Mark, he went into further detail, telling me that the photo took up an entire two pages and was black and white tinted blue. He also recalls that the magazine had a title like Male.
When I was about 9 or 10 years old -- 1966 or so -- a group of us would ride our bikes to our local fire station and read the "adult" magazines in the firehouse mens' room. While Police Gazette was an obvious favorite -- there were also copies of True, Argosy, and Saga. It was in one of these that I saw the picture of the pteranodon (?) nailed to a huge barn door, with these bearded miner types in front. It was tinted brown or blue and was a 2-page spread with white writing, beginning an article or story, obscuring some of it.
Both Opsasnick and Johnson say the photo was tinted brown (Johnson) or blue (Johnson and Opsasnick) and was a two-page spread in a men's magazine, but Opsasnick remembers the creature as being a bird while Johnson recalls that it was a pteranodon. Keel also suggested that a men's magazine may have been the source.
Longtime fortean Robert J. Durant agrees with Gaddis and Keel -- he also believes that he saw the photo in one of the "men's magazines" around 1955 or 1956.
-David Robbins claims he saw an illustration of the photo in 1950s. Also links to magazines Saga and True.
-Sketch reconstructions vary considerably. One of most detailed:
In 1980 while working as a designer...in upstate New York, I would spend many lunch hours in the local library. This is when I first saw the Thunderbird Photograph. While looking through the section dedicated to the Old West, I pulled out a rather thin book from around the turn of the century. As I flipped through the pages I came across the most fascinating photo; there spread out before me was the biggest bird I have ever seen. The photo quality was sharp and clear, every detail was visible. The bird's wings were supported and stretched out by a large group of men standing on a loading dock of a barnlike building. The bird must have possessed a wingspread of 25-30 feet.
-Claims of seeing it in 1980s in Unexplained Phenomena books
I saw [the photo] when I was living in Carpentersville, IL in 1964-67 (closer to '67 I should think). It was definitely in a "Men's Stories" type magazine.... I'm certain the story was an article about flying monsters, as it influenced me into getting into Heuvelmans' works and Fort's as well.... I believe this magazine was not one of the regulars like Argosy, but it was a sort of a rip-off of that type. I distinctly recall the photograph was really grainy and badly printed. It could have been anything up on the barn, but it sure didn't look like a modern bird. The wings were definitely bat-like.
-Other stories from Gridley Herald about American Dragons in 1882.
-Lake Elizabeth Monster from 1830-1890 in California
-1855 "Batlike Wings" report
-1883 apparently killed in Tombstone
The monster either flew from California to Arizona, where it was killed, or the idea of it was transferred from California to Arizona. Whether one sees this as evidence for the existence of a living dinosaur or as the transmission of dragon lore from one newspaper editor to another, the Lake Elizabeth monster is certainly a significant part of the history of the Tombstone case.
-Common reports about flying dragons after the Epitaph's story, in 1891.
-1903 newspaper article about one in Utah
Photo- seen on TV Show in Canada in the 1960s. Also reports in a newspaper. "Fate" "National Geographic" but both checked.
"American Weekly" not checked yet.
Possibly seen in Film- The Valley of Gwangi
Men's magazines- Saga, Argosy, True, Male.
-May 1963 issue of saga "Monster Bird that Carries off Human Beings" article with no photograph, but description of the picture. Dates Epitaph year as 1886 instead of 1890. First printed mention. By Jack Pearl- hard to track down. No interest in strange phenomena. Where did he get the source from?
-H.M. Cranmer from PA sent letters to Fate in the 1950s looking for information on Thunderbirds.
In September, 1963, a scant four months after Pearl's Saga article Cranmer wrote a letter to Fate about the Thunderbird Photograph.
There are many clues that Cranmer was Pearl's source for the Thunderbird Photo tale. Pearl writes in his article that some thunderbird reports were received by Saga magazine "from a Pennsylvania resident.
-Pearl used the sightings from Cranmer, so maybe also the Photo information?
-Cranmer sent sightings to Saga and to Fate with description of picture. Pearl used it to add to his article.
Sometime about the year 1900 two prospectors shot and carried into Tombstone, Ariz., on a burro one of these birds. When nailed against the wall of the Tombstone Epitaph its wingspread measured 36 feet. A picture showed six men, with outstretched arms touching, standing under the bird. Later, a group of actors dressed as professors were photographed under the bird, with one of them saying, "Shucks, there is no such bird, never was, and never will be.
-He died in a house fire. (Too bad he can't access ATS from the grave) Had many thunderbird sightings, UFO sightings.
-Author says Cranmer is likely source of legend and he is not credible.
-Rumors that Cranmer did have a copy of picture and it was lost in the fire.
-Neither letter he sent said he had a copy.
Furthermore, in the aforementioned March 1966 issue of Fate magazine, Cranmer wrote a follow-up letter in which he said that he heard about the Thunderbird Photo from "a lady in Tombstone." Thus, from the standpoint of an investigator trying to follow the story back to its source, the photo is reduced to a friend-of-a-friend tale, a contemporary/"urban" legend.
The article is continued in the next issue. I'm going to buy it.
We can also order the Fate magazines but they're like $25 each.
I believe jkrog is going to be so kind enough to post up the sketches from the people who claim to have seen the picture.