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1840, March 14: Strange Tracks found in Glenorchy, Scotland

On March 14, 1840, The Times of London printed an odd news story that they had gotten from the Perth Courier (aka "Perthshire Courier") of Scotland. According to the report tracks that appeared to be made by a large animal had been encountered in the high mountainous snow areas where "Glenorchy, Glenlyon, and Glenochay" all meet... which would modernly be the area between Glen Orchy, Glen Lyon, and Glen Lochay, with the tracks being reported off and on in several places within a twelve mile range.

        The tracks had been discovered several times in the winters of 1840 and 1839, but never followed. The tracks looked like prints made by a "foal of considerable size," except that the sole seems a little longer and not as round, and from the depth to which the tracks are sunk into the snow it was believed the overall animal was quite large; but the beast itself had never been reportedly encountered. It was also reported that the tracks did not display the usual walk of a quadruped, but more like the "bounding or leaping of a hare when scared or pursued."

        The report further announced that a decision had been made to follow the tracks the next time they were encountered, unless inaccessible rocks or precipices prevented this... but being the report was made late in the season, and no more good snow was expected, it was generally assumed this pursuit would have to wait until the next winter.

More to Learn?

        As I've mentioned, The Times gave their source as the Perth Courier, and I will attempt to follow up on this matter in that and other Scottish papers to see if the tracks were reported earlier (in the winter of 1839), or if they were ever pursued again. All modern accounts of this matter start with a mention of the Times report above by Charles Fort in his 1919 Book of the Damned, and no one appears to have pursued the story any further (even as much looking up the Times report itself).

        Modern authors, also starting in 1919 with Charles Fort, tend to mention the Scottish prints above in relation to an incident that was recorded fifteen years after it occurred in 1855, in which a line of what were described as 'hoof prints' were left in the snow stretching across approximately ninety miles of Devonshire, England, were discovered one early morning. The incident was never explained, nor repeated; but the unexplained 'hoof prints' are clearly what is considered to be the connecting factor to the Scottish account above. To read more on the 1855 occurrence, follow the 'See Also' link below.