Sasquatch sighting at Old Gin Creek

By Haley Mitchell Godwin

Recently, a 9-foot tall, 2600-pound sasquatch has been reported to have taken up residency between gas pumps one and two at Old Gin Creek. It’s also been reported that travelers from all over have stopped to get a picture with the Sasquatch at the popular travel stop.

If you haven’t stopped in to meet “Big Jim” the Conecuh River Sasquatch or to try an item off their menu, go check him out and grab a burger and grab a selfie to post with the hashtag #OGCsquatch. But, don’t let Big Jim’s huge stature or his robust, undeniable presence at the store fool you. Big Jim is no simple marketing ploy to try and attract customers. Big Jim represents a “tall” tail almost 50 years in the making that comes full circle by the end of the half-century chronicle

We’ve all heard the legends: bigfoot, the white thang, yeti, and…Conecuh River Sasquatch. Indeed, in the mid-1970s, evidence of a Crenshaw County Sasquatch was found on the banks of the mighty Conecuh River near Brantley.
It has been said that within the vast wilderness of the Conecuh River valley, lives an animal that makes very large, distinct sasquatch-like tracks that measure 19 inches in length and 9 inches in width, the equivalent to a men’s shoe size 37-if such a size were to exist that is.

But then again it has also been said, almost five decades after the sasquatch track sightings, that these tracks were actually made by a Brantley native, a human one, simply enjoying his youthful freedom and expressing his desire and passion to create.

Picture it…1970 something. Mount Hardware, Main Street, Brantley. A young Brantley native overhears one of his peers, Jimmy McGinty formerly of Brantley, mention very quietly to another hardware store patron that he had seen some unusual and very large tracks on the banks of the Conecuh River. Unbeknownst to McGinty, the young Brantley native standing nearby that overheard the remarks was actually the source of the tracks. The culprit quickly ushered himself out the door, trying hard to camouflage any body language that might reveal that he knew more about the supposed Conecuh River beast.

Now, let’s fast forward almost five decades to 2017.
As the lunchtime regulars at Old Gin Creek sat around chewing their lunches, and/or chewing the fat, a documentary on Sasquatch played in the background. Eugene Hendrick of Brantley mentioned he had a pair of Sasquatch feet he had made and offered to bring them to Old Gin Creek store owner, Hunter Royal, to hang on the store wall if he wished.

Mysterious beasts quickly became the topic of discussion and then Hendrick asked Royal if his father-in-law, Jimmy McGuinty had ever mentioned the Sasquatch tracks he found on the Conecuh River in the late 70s. As the conversation continued, Hendrick revealed that he made the mysterious 1970s “Sasquatch tracks” and the decades-old mystery of the Conecuh River Sasquatch was solved.

Hunter, who had never heard his father-in-law mention anything about sasquatch, called McGinty on the spot and put him on speakerphone. Royal asked McGuinty if had ever seen any sasquatch tracks on the Conecuh River banks and a hesitant “yes” was the answer given.

“I wasn’t really sure how Eugene knew I saw the tracks,” McGinty said. “I don’t really recall telling anyone because I thought people would think I was crazy. I played on the Brantley Auto Parts travel softball team, and I must have mentioned it to one of my teammates. It did rest my soul to finally know after all these years that what I saw was real, but made by Eugene and not a huge, real Sasquatch.”
Where the idea came from

In the mid-1970s, Hendrick saw a news story about a Sasquatch hoax in Oregon where someone had been dressing in a hairy, gorilla-like suit. Hendrick decided that carving some sasquatch feet would be fun and that attaching them to a pair of his converse tennis shoes and taking some walks on the banks of the Conecuh River would be even more fun.

“It just came to mind, something to do,” Hendrick said. “I didn’t have a sasquatch suit, but I knew I could carve some fairly realistic looking feet. I carved out the toes, and muscles, and heels and it really looked like the bottom of a foot. I bolted a pair of tennis shoes to the other side, put them in my boat and went down the river looking for pretty sandbars to get out on and walk around. I had a long thing used to get fish bait I carried with me that I used to reach up about 8 or 10 feet high to leave some scratch marks on the trees and give him some height.”

The Conecuh River Sasquatch became a regular fixture in the lunchtime conversations held at Old Gin Creek and in November of last year, McGuinty came up with the idea to find a “life-size” Sasquatch for Hunter and the store. Hunter has had an interest in the legend of Sasquatch most all of his life and McGuinty thought this would be the surprise of a lifetime for Hunter.

“I had thought about when I was a little boy, and I would go to the beach with my parents,” McGuinty said. “At a rest stop on 231 near the state line there was a bear in a cage out front. I never forgot that place and it will just always be a landmark in my mind and I thought the Sasquatch statue might kind of turn into the same thing for others while keeping the legend of the Conecuh River Sasquatch alive. *laughs* I think we surprised him good.”

McGinty drove to Indiana to pick up the concrete Sasquatch statue he had found, and snuck the massive creature back into town where the Sasquatch then hid out at Ken’s Welding so that Hendrick could paint him.

The story, which began being written in the mid-1970s, came full circle Sunday, Jan. 15, 2023, when Royal’s wife, Amanda McGinty Royal, cajoled him to the store for what would be the big reveal, by saying her dad needed help loading up a golf cart.

“Shocked and surprised is an understatement! We are closed on Sundays but there were so many people at the store. I was looking for a golf cart but instead, there was a 2600-pound Sasquatch hand painted by Euguene Hendrick waiting on me. I want to thank everyone who helped make this possible, a big thank you to Jimmy McGinty who drove all the way to Indiana, and got him. To anyone passing through, and to our locals, stop and get a pic with Big Jim, the Conecuh River Sasquatch and use #!”

Brantlians can now rest assured, knowing the decades-old mystery of the Conecuh River Sasquatch has finally been solved.

Or has it……

Royal’s closing words shared during his interview with the Luverne Journal allude to the alternative.

“Since the Sasquatch statue has been up, I have had several locals come in and say they have seen a strange, very tall-looking creature,” Royal said. “I’ve talked to several farmers that say they have seen something. One of them was out plowing not far from the river and got so spooked they left the tractor in the field and trucked it home. North America is supposedly the only continent in the entire world without apes or primates? Think about it.”

So, Is it possible that there actually is a Conecuh River Sasquatch? Could it be that Hendricks isn’t the only Conecuh River jokester and a real 8-foot-tall, hairy ape-like creature was giggling in the bushes, looking on as Hendrick made the fake tracks in the sand?

The world may never know. However, one thing is certain: Big Jim the Conecuh River Sasquatch is easily accessible for photo ops, and the Old Gin Creek Sasquatch burger-which features bacon, Conecuh sausage, Old Gin Creek BBQ sauce and all the fixings, is available for purchase along with other lunch menu items.

Old Gin Creek is open Mon. -Fri. From 5:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Sat. from 5:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. in the fall/winter and to 5 p.m. in the summer.

More info about Old Gin Creek can be found at