Like Bigfoot, Nessie, extraterrestrials, and giant shrimp in the basement, it is an elusive creature. Despite the fact that credible, valued friends and colleagues have seen the photograph, no one can find it. I have never seen the photograph, and at this point I have to wonder if I am not chasing a phantom.
Going after the Thunderbird Photograph has led me down some interesting, unexpected highways and byways and this article will cover these excursions in full. I never expected to be seriously questioning the credibility of fortean Ivan T. Sanderson, who is a central figure in the case, or piecing together the untold story of American Dragons.
My research and investigation shows that the Thunderbird Photo is not an isolated case but rather part of a continuing story of huge reptilian flying creatures in the American West.
This article will be a compendium of all that we know about the photo together with lots of new leads. It will provide many reasons for hope that the photo may be found, while simultaneously suggesting that there may be no Thunderbird Photograph to be found. I will be determining the first known mention of the photograph in print, and will ascertain, for the first time, the source of that mention.
If there was a photo, how come no one can find it now? If there is no photo, how come so many remember seeing it?
The Thunderbird Photograph has become a phenomenon unto itself -- a photo that so many have seen but no one can find.
Why would such a memorable, striking photo be so hard to track down, and why would it elude so many for so long? And, if there never was such a photo, what is it about this image that would cause so many to think that they had seen it? What does this say about the value of any memory with respect to eyewitness sightings of strange phenomena?
We begin our search in Tombstone, Arizona, home of rattlesnakes, scorpions, and a newspaper called the Epitaph that once ran an article about two cowboys who shot down a winged monster.