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The Honey Island Swamp Monster

Honey Island swamp is unique because it's one of the least-altered river swamps in the country. It's pretty much in its original condition, almost a pristine wilderness.Take a personalized narrated nature tour into the 250-square-mile Honey Island Swamp. Nearly 70,000 acres of it is a permanently-protected wildlife area--the Nature Conservancy's First Louisiana Nature Preserve. People from all over the world now explore this wildlife sanctuary with him.

Honey Island earned its name because of the honeybees once seen on a nearby island. A tract of bottomland timber lying between the East Pearl and West Pearl rivers, Honey Island is between three and seven miles wide and 15 to 20 miles long. It is located 50 minutes from New Orleans in Southeast Louisiana.

Honey Island has become one of the most well-known swamps because of the real or imagined presence of a creature similar to what others have called Big Foot.


Long to short hair on the head. Shorter hair all over the body. At times head hair forming bangs some what over the eyes. Hair color is dingy gray. 5- 8 feet tall and weight 300 or 350 pounds, with long, orange-brown gray or black hair and big, wide-set orange amber eyes.

These animals are sometimes described as having a "mane" of hair, large broad shouldered. The face is said to be rather flat. The most prominent feature described by Ford and others , is the size and color of the eyes. They appear to be disproportionately large , and of an amber color.

Mr. Ford stated that this gave the animal a "sinister" look.

The tracks , left by the animal , appear to be somewhat similar to an Alligator's rear foot. Upon close examination , however, it becomes clear , that this is something different.

In 1974, zoologists from Louisiana State University (LSU) met with Harlan Ford to study the plaster casts of the creature's four-toed footprints. Crypotozoologist from Washington also arrived in Louisiana to inspect the unusual casts. Harlan said, "That thing stood eye level with me. The thing that startled me the most, we're it's large amber eyes." Harlan was later interviewed in a documentary called "In Search Of" which still airs periodically on The Discovery Channel and other television networks. Harlan's own personal sighting has been documented in a book, "Monsters of North America"

This is a real plaster cast of the impression of the footprint of the Honey Island Swamp Monster. This cast was donated to the Abita Mystery House by Dana Holyfield, grand-daughter of Harlan E. Ford, the hunter who found and cast the tracks. He was the first man to report a sighting of the creature and he was also the first and only man to my knowledge who poured plaster paris casts of it's tracks found deep in the swamp. The Honey Island Swamp is about 25 miles East of the Abita Mystery House. There are several swamp tours of the area.

There are four toes visible. There are three heavily clawed toes , with prominent knuckles , underneath the foot. Then... there is the bizarre thumb like small toe . About an inch and a half on the cast that I have. These toes show clearly , that this animal can grasp with the toes. The three large toes , are long and slender , with tendons visible in the prints. The claws are turned down , and backwards to grip the loose soil , sand , and mud. This is reminiscent of a cat like trait. The skin appears to be thin on the bottom of the foot , with tendons showing. In the hostile environment of the island , thin skin under the foot would indicate that it didn't spend a lot of time on the ground.


In 1978 the Alan Lamdsburg Company, producers of the popular TV program, IN SEARCH OF did a segment on the Honey island Swamp Monster. This catapulted the monster into International fame. Since then there have been many reports and the program has become a reference for information on the creature.


Dana Holyfield, grand-daughter of Harlan Ford, has made a documentary film about the Honey Island Swamp Monster. The documentary also includes footage of a swamp trek that Dana took into an area where there had been sightings of the creature. She found tracks, and shot video of the tracks. Also included in the documentary is footage shot by Harlan Ford years ago in the swamp. There are a few seconds of footage of a bipedal, hairy being that is walking behind some trees.

This book documents sightings of a mysterious man-like creature that roams the dense foliage of the Louisiana Honey Island Swamp, where few men have ever ventured. Evidence found (as seen on Discovery Channel's In Search Of) was studied by reputable crypto zoologists who claimed that is was not a hoax.

About the Author
Dana Holyfield grew up in Slidell, Louisiana. She wrote this book because it was her grandfather, Harlan Ford, who first reported the sighting of the legendary Swamp Monster after he poured plaster paris tracks. She has authored many books such as Swamp Cooking With The River People, More Swamp Cooking, New Orleans Mardi Gras Recipes, Cajun Sexy Cooking, Swamp Tour A Way Of Life On The Bayou, Mermaid Bayou Legend Of The Fresh Water Lady Fish, Sexy & Lean Bayou Cuisine.


The footage was recently uncovered by Dana’s grandmother, Harlan Ford’s widow. it had apparently been lying around, gathering dust. Dana was just given this old footage earlier this year and has included it with her documentary.

Is the figure the Honey Island Swamp Monster?

The DVD is available on Dana’s website http://www.angelfire.com/la2/SwampMonster/.

Since hurricane Katrina people are still seeing the Honey Island Creature in the wilderness along the Pearl river on both the Louisiana and Mississippi sides, as far as Covington and Hammond to Slidell and New Orleans East.

The outside world first learned about Louisiana's Honey Island Swamp Monster in 1974 when two hunters emerged from a remote area of backwater sloughs with plaster casts of "unusual tracks." The men claimed they discovered the footprints near a wild boar that lay with its throat gashed. They also stated that over a decade earlier, in 1963, they had seen similar tracks after encountering an awesome creature.

They described it as standing seven feet tall, being covered with grayish hair, and having large amber-colored eyes. However, the monster had promptly run away and also an afternoon rainstorm had obliterated its tracks, the men said.

The hunters were Harlan E. Ford and his friend Billy Mills, both of whom worked as air-traffic controllers. Ford told his story on an episode of the 1970s television series In Search of . . . . According to his granddaughter, Dana Holyfield (1999a, 11):

When the documentary was first televised, it was monster mania around here. People called from everywhere. . . . The legend of the Honey Island Swamp Monster escalated across Southern Louisiana and quickly made its way out of state after the documentary aired nationwide.

Harlan Ford continued to search for the monster until his death in 1980. Dana recalls how he once took a goat into the swamp to use as bait, hoping to lure the creature to a tree blind where Ford waited-uneventfully, as it happened-with gun and camera.

He did supposedly find several, different-sized tracks on one hunting trip. He also claimed to have seen the monster on one other occasion, during a fishing trip with Mills and some of their friends from work. One of the men reportedly then went searching for the creature with a rifle and fired two shots at it before returning to tell his story to the others around the campfire (Holyfield 1999a, 10-15).

Footprints and other specific details aside, the Honey Island Swamp Monster seems part of a genre of mythic swamp-dwelling "beastmen" or "manimals." They include the smelly Skunk Ape and the hybrid Gatorman of the Florida Everglades and other southern swamps; the Scape Ore Swamp Lizardman of South Carolina; Momo, the Missouri Monster; and, among others, the Fouke Monster, which peeked in the window of a home in Fouke, Arkansas, one night in 1971 and set off a rash of monster sightings (Blackman 1998, 23-25, 30-33, 166-168; Bord and Bord 1982, 104-105; Coleman and Clark 1999, 224-226; Coleman and Huyghe 1999, 39, 56).

FROM ANY DIRECTION: (New Orleans, Covington, Mississippi and the Gulf Coast), you must exit Interstate 10 in Slidell at exit 266 (US 190) also known locally as Gause Boulevard.

Take US 190 East (2 miles) to the traffic light located at the intersection of US 190 and Highway 1090 (Military Road). Turn LEFT. Drive NORTH 1 mile on 1090 where you will pass over Interstate 10. Immediately, you will come to the Interstate Service Road. Turn RIGHT onto the Service Road and follow it 1.5 miles to its end at the Pearl River. Parking is on the LEFT. Gift shop, restrooms and refreshments available on location.

Honey Island Swamp Tour Information

Honey Island Swamp Tours has provided unique, interpretative boat tours since 1982. Our business has grown as demand for the tours has steadily increased. Use of small boats (both covered and uncovered) allow us deep access into the heart of our beautiful honey island cypress swamp. All boats are Coast Guard-inspected; and all guides are licensed, native, professional guides.


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Blanchard, Kevin. 2000. Bigfoot sighting in La.? Baton Rouge, La., The Advocate, August 29.
Bord, Janet, and Colin Bord. 1982. The Bigfoot Casebook. Harrisburg, Pa.: Stackpole Books.
Burdeau, Cain. 2000. Many in central La. fear Bigfoot. Baton Rouge, La., The Advocate, September 15.
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Cassidy, Frederick G., ed. 1985. Dictionary of American Regional English. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press, 1: 333-334.
Charbonnet, Robbie. 2000. Interview by Joe Nickell, December 4.
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Dennis, John V. 1988. The Great Cypress Swamps. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 27, 108-109.
"Dr. Wagner's Honey Island Swamp Tours, Inc." N.d. Advertising flier, Slidell, La.
Ford, Perry. N.d. "The Honey Island Swamp Monster." Song text in Holyfield 1999b, 13.
Guenette, Robert, and Frances Guenette. 1975. The Mysterious Monsters. Los Angeles, Calif.: Sun Classic Pictures.
Holyfield, Dana. 1999a. Encounters with the Honey Island Swamp Monster. Pearl River, La.: Honey Island Swamp Books.
--. 1999b. More Swamp Cookin' with the River People. Pearl River, La.: Honey Island Swamp Books.
Krantz, Grover. 1992. Big Footprints: A Scientific Inquiry into the Reality of Sasquatch. Boulder, Colorado: Johnson Books.
Nickell, Joe. 1995. Entities: Angels, Spirits, Demons, and Other Alien Beings. Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus Books.
Pickens, Ray. 1975. Quoted in Guenette and Guenette 1975, 80.
Wagner, Sue. 2000. Interview by Joe Nickell, December 4. l

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