|The Mysterious Thunderbird Phot. One of the Great Unsolved Mysteries in Arizona. Photo of a so-called
Thunderbird and a mysterious creature that had been captured near the town of Tombstone Arizona. I found a
story of this , which you can find below from Ghosts of the Prairie.
Burlington UFO and Paranormal Research and Educational Center
Living in the Light
Back to Arizona
Ghosts of the Prairie
History & Hauntings of America
The Thunderbird Creature of Arizona
One of the Great Unsolved Mysteries has its roots in Arizona!
One of the great mysteries of modern times has its roots in Arizona. This mystery involves a photograph of a
so-called â€œThunderbirdâ€� and a mysterious creature that was said to have been captured near the town
The story goes that two cowboys sighted an enormous flying creature in in the Arizona desert in April 1890.
The beast had the body of a serpent, immense wings, two clawed feet and the face of an alligator. The men
got as close as their skittish horses would allow and then chased the bird on foot. It took off and landed a few
times and the cowboys opened fire with rifles and killed the monster.
The enormous wingspan of the creature was said to have been 160 feet and the body was more than 92 feet
long. It was smooth and featherless, more like a bat than a bird, and they cut off a piece of the wing and
brought it with them into Tombstone, Arizona.
Or least thatâ€™s the story that was allegedly told in an April 1892 issue of the Tombstone newspaper, the
Epitaph. This was the only mention of the story and it gave all of the appearances of the tall tales that were
often written in the western newspapers of the era. What makes this story different though is that it has given
rise to an odd modern legend.
The story was revived in 1930 in the book On the Old West Coast by Horace Bell and then 33 years later, a
writer named Jack Pearl mentioned the story in the sensationalistic menâ€™s magazine called Saga. Not only
did he tell the story though, he went one step further and claimed that the Tombstone Epitaph had, in 1886, â
€œpublished a photograph of a huge bird nailed to a wall. The newspaper said that it had been shot by two
prospectors and hauled into town by wagon. Lined up in front of the bird were six grown men with their arms
outstretched, fingertip to fingertip. The creature measured about 36 feet from wingtip to wingtip.â€�
Then, in the September 1963 issue of Fate magazine, a writer named H.M Cranmer would state that not only
was the story true, but the photo was published and had appeared in newspapers all over America. And
Cranmer would not be the only one who remembered the photo. Eminent Fortean researcher Ivan T.
Sanderson also remembered seeing the photo and in fact, even claimed to have once had a photocopy of it
that he loaned to two associates, who lost it. The editors of Fate even came to believe that they may have
published the photo in an earlier issue (the magazine started in 1948) but a search through back issues failed
to reveal it. Meanwhile, the original Epitaph story (which mentions no photograph) was revived in a 1969 issue
of Old West, further confusing the issue as to whether the photo was real or not!
The Epitaph however stated that it did not exist, or if it did, it had not been in their newspaper. Responding to
numerous inquiries, employees of the paper started a thorough search of back issues and files. They could
find not such photo and even an extended search of other Arizona and California newspapers of the period
produced no results.
So, is the photo real? And if not, then why do so many of us (myself included) with an interest in the unusual
claim to remember seeing it? Who knows? Just recently, in the late 1990â€™s, author John Keel insisted that â
€œI know I saw it! And not only that - I compared notes with a lot of other people who saw it.â€� Like many of
us, Keel believes that he saw it in one of the menâ€™s magazines (like Saga or True) that were so popular in
the 1960â€™s. Most of these magazines dealt with amazing subject matter like Bigfoot, ghosts and more. Keel
also remembers the photo in the same way that most of us do.. with men wearing cowboy clothing and the bird
looking like a pterodactyl or some prehistoric, winged creature.
Interestingly, Keelâ€™s writings prompted a memory from W. Ritchie Benedict, who recalled seeing Ivan T.
Sanderson display the photo on a Canadian television show. Unfortunately though, no copies of the show
have ever been found.
During the 1990â€™s, the search for the â€œThunderbird Photoâ€� reached a point of obsession for those
interested in the subject. A discussion of the matter stretched over several issues of Mark Chorvinskyâ€™s
excellent Strange magazine and readers who believed they had seen the photo cited sources that ranged
from old books, to Western photograph collections, menâ€™s magazines and beyond. As for myself, I combed
through literally hundreds of issues of dusty copies of True and Saga but could find nothing more than the
previously mentioned article by Jack Pearl. If the photo exists, I certainly donâ€™t have it in my own collection!
So, how do we explain this weird phenomena of a photograph that so many remember seeing and yet no one
can seem to find? Author Mark Hall believes that the description of the photo creates such a vivid image in the
mind that many people who have a knowledge and an interest in curious and eclectic things begin to think the
photo is familiar. It literally creates a â€œshared memoryâ€� of something that does not exist. We think we
have seen it, but we actually have not.
To be honest, I canâ€™t say for sure if I agree with this or not. I can certainly see the possibility of a â
€œmemoryâ€� like this that we have created from inside of our own overcrowded minds, but then again, what
if the photo does exist.. and itâ€™s out there, just waiting to be discovered in some dusty garage, overflowing
file cabinet or musty basement. I, for one, havenâ€™t given up quite yet... and I have a feeling that I am not
the only one who is still out there looking!
(C) Copyright 2001 by Troy Taylor. All Rights Reserved.
Continued by Mary Sutherland, Burlington UFO Center
Well, I don't know about the above picture, but I have a picture in my archives that fits the description of the
Tombstone Arizona Thunderbird picture. If any of you out there are looking for this picture, I have posted it
below so that you may make your own comparison. Whether it be the tombstone picture or not, I don't know,
unless the men were dressed in civil war uniforms...which is highly unlikely....BUT , regardless this picture
does show that such a bird may have existed in more than just one area. Also note there are 6 people
standing around it.
EMAIL SENT TO BUFO
Dear Brad and Mary,
I ran across your site and saw a photo at the bottom of a page talking about the "Tombstone Thunderbird". I
remember having seen this picture many years ago in a cryptozoology book. The caption in the book
described it as "Federal soldiers posing with mysterious bird-like creature, following Battle of Vicksburg, July
1863." While I cannot remember the title of the book, and have been searching for it for some time, the author
also said that researchers claimed the soldiers were super-imposed onto the photograph of a fake model, but
however, the photo had been authenticated. Hope this helps.
Telephone Call from Arizona
The reader believes that this photo is not authentiic based on the pants style of the soldiers.
Apparently in those days, the pants legs would have been much baggier.
So what is your thought on the photo - Fake or Real?
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