Mountain Mysteries

Bigfoot, UFOs, and the Downright Paranormal In Appalachia

By Joe Tennis

In Larry Thacker’s world, UFOs have touched down in the Appalachian Mountains. And, there’s a mysterious Bigfoot creature roaming the dense woods of Tennessee.

Thacker—the director of student success and retention at Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tenn.—is the author of the recently released “Mountain Mysteries: The Mystic Traditions of Appalachia.”

This 226-page paperback takes a look at death lore, psychics, the power of touch and faith, UFOs and ghostly legends in the mountains. One place Thacker has examined is the Ritchie House, a purportedly haunted residence in Ewing, Va.

Explaining how these stories are perpetuated and transformed over time, Thacker says. “People hear what they want to hear … The human body likes things to be easy. And we like our history to be fairly simple. So we like to settle in on one or two things that we perceive to be accurate.”

Thacker devotes several pages to the stories of the “Flintville Monster,” Appalachia’s version of Bigfoot, allegedly seen at Flintville, Tenn., near Chattanooga, and includes an interview with Mary Green, “The Bigfoot Lady,” of Overton County, Tenn.

“The reputation of this creature, most generically recognized in the United States as Bigfoot, is deeply rooted in our country’s superstitions and folklore,” Thacker says. “I believe that such a creature is, in fact, seen all over the world.”
But, he pondered, the sightings of a “Bigfoot” in the Appalachians might also be akin to seeing a ghost.

“Every family that you talk to has a family ghost story—or their own,” Thacker says. “I think the story behind the story is what I get the most into­. What were the people doing? What kind of emotional state were they in? And how did the story go 20 years earlier?”

Thacker says he believes in ghosts.

“Some form of them, in my opinion, must exist,” he says. “The ghost phenomenon is too persistent in the world’s history not to have some reality in there.”

A fascination with folklore took root in Thacker when he was a child.

“I was particularly entertained by paranormal topics – everything I could find,” he says. “That childhood fascination apparently never went away.”

Soon after graduating Lincoln Memorial University in 1991, Thacker began working on the material that became “Mountain Mysteries.”

Along the way, he says he was “learning who I was by approaching these topics as legitimate history, rather than sporadic entertainment.”

The book’s material – with chapter titles including “Appalachian Mystery, History and Heritage” – was collected through interviews and research.

“It’s about approaching mystery and legend and paranormal studies as a new form of history,” Thacker says. “It’s legitimizing those things as a new form of history.”

“Mountain Mysteries” is available through The Overmountain Press. Call (800) 992-2691 or visit

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Joe Tennis, of Bristol, Va., is the author of SULLIVAN COUNTY, TENNESSEE: Images of America (Arcadia Publishing).


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