On July 13, 1973, near where Rough Fork Creek intersects with the end of the main Cataloochee Valley road, seasonal national park ranger Charles Hughes had a violent encounter with the “wild man” of Cataloochee. Hughes was checking up on fishermen along Rough Fork when he met a man with a fly rod and a heavy beard.
When asked his name, the man replied, "I've got no name, I've lived in these woods all my life." When the ranger demanded to see his fishing license, the man reached into his heavy canvas hunting jacket for a pistol.
During a prolonged scuffle, the ranger succeeded in punching the man in the face but failed to subdue him. As Hughes attempted to turn around his vehicle and drive up the narrow gravel road for help, the “wild man” heaved a large rock at the ranger’s Jeep and broke a window. Hughes then sped to the nearby ranger station for backup; subsequently, a group of rangers and volunteer tracked the man by bloodhound along Rough Fork well into the night but never found him.
The "Wild Man" became the subject of much discussion in the local press, and a song commemorating the event, "The Cataloochee Wild Man" by Sam Parsons, a Texan, was popular throughout the region.
Additional “wild man” sightings occurred over the following decades. Some campers in Cataloochee Campground would reportedly leave food out for the man. Rangers and families caught glimpses of the man along the fringes of the historic farmsteads and other developed areas of the valley. Like a ghost, he possessed an uncanny ability to melt into the forest whenever someone became alarmed at his presence.Read more...