Awake at 3am - CPAP mask crapped out on me, and now I'm down a cryptozoology rabbithole.
I remember my father reading a strange story to me from The Province when I was a boy, about a prospector exploring Pitt Lake and finding a "lost world" hidden in a valley. It made quite an impression on me, and for awhile, I would actually ask my father about it: "Was there anything more in the paper about the hidden valley with the giant horned lizards?" There never was, and after a few years, I stopped asking my Dad if he'd read updates on the story.
At that point I had read Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World, and - as a dinosaur-and-horror-movie obsessive and childhood Sasquatch enthusiast - I loved the idea that there might be something akin to it, a hidden valley with prehistoric creatures only a short drive from where I lived.
Later on in life, I used to spend a lot of time with some friends who lived on Pitt Lake, and the story, I'm sure, is one I mentioned to them. But it kind of disappeared from the forefront of my consciousness, since nothing was ever there to feed it. It would surface from time to time, however, and I sat down some time ago online to see if the internet could help me track down the original story (and again, to see if there had been any follow-up).
As close as I came was mention of horned lizards in an article about another really interesting BC cryptid, a rumoured, but un-proven species of giant salamander, from 6 to 12 feet in length - many times larger than the known-but-endangered Pacific giant salamander, which is only a foot long. (I might have seen one of these fellas as a kid - two neighbours, knowing about my love for reptiles and amphibians, showed me a really big salamander that they'd caught under a log while fishing in the lower Alouette - a place I also fished as a child; I remember it being almost a foot long, and like nothing I've seen before or since).
Well, being kind of Peter-Stampfel-centric lately, I read something he posted on Facebook about hellbenders - a known, proven-species of Appalachian giant salamander. It reminded me of all the above, and sent me down a Google rabbithole, where I found another story related to this, which had only gone online after my last round of searching.
But what about those mysterious horned lizards?
Good news! The story - not original article my Dad read to me in The Province, but one that captures some of the details - is recounted here, on the BC Prospectors' website, excerpting and altering a longer version of the story here, apparently by the same author. It talks about a "Mr. Scott, of Haney BC," informing the news media of a lost valley he'd discovered, that "had a tropical climate where extinct vegetation grew in abundance. Inhabiting the valley were 6 foot long meat eating horned-lizards, huge white frogs and a 150 year old man."
I don't remember the 150 year old man from the original story, but I do remember that some of the captured horned lizards were supposedly sent to a university for study. Warren Scott, whose name is mentioned in some articles about this lost valley, also pops up in some stories about the giant salamanders, it seems, and looks from this forum discussion to also have been a Sasquatch enthusiast.
It's kind of interesting that this Warren Scott fella connects some of these stories. Wonder if he's still around? There's mention in that forum discussion that he was interviewed on a show called Alden's Outdoors in 1977... if he was an adult then, he'd likely be in his 80's or 90's now... Hm. Barrie Alden seems to report from hospital occasionally on Youtube videos.... it's a pretty odd Youtube channel, but the most recent post is here, about cougars. I've posted a comment to see if he can do something on Warren Scott - if he can share his memories of interviewing him, say...
Anyhow, I'd rather be asleep - I have to work today - but... it's been an unusual couple of hours!