Work In Progress: Transcripts and Missives in the Temple of Hoaxes
In the Olympic National Park of Washington state, one usually expects towering mountains, stunning valleys, lovely Pacific Ocean beaches and charming animal life. What one does not expect, as they travel deeper into the park, along the indefinite lines where its boundaries meet the rest of the Peninsula, is the sudden appearance of a twelve-foot ape head, covered in shaggy, rust-colored fur with its mouth gaping open over the path. The initial shock fast gives way to relief as we realize it is just a plaster sculpture, and then to curiosity as the faded paint of the ape’s fur comes into focus. Soon one becomes to compelled to venture through the great hominid’s mouth to explore the strange, decrepit structures huddling in the mist.
So begins a trek through Cryptid Kingdom, a proposed amusement park designed and built by Thaddeus Rothers, aspiring eccentric philanthropist and True Believer. ‘Aspiring’ being the keyword; Thaddeus never quite managed to overshadow the work of his father Keegan, whose work in voice recognition software and founding of Rothers Systems built the family fortunes. With almost limitless wealth at his fingertips, little was expected of Thaddeus beyond attending the occasional board meeting, and he was left to his own devices to pursue whatever he pleased.
To his credit, Thaddeus initially tried to make a greater impression in the public eye with donations to wildlife sanctuaries and ecological projects. These good-intentioned ventures were more often than not severely misinformed; Rothers famously held a press conference about his proposed “Save the Black Rhino” fundraising campaign the day after the species was declared extinct, and it was soon obvious that his heart wasn’t really in it.
Whether Thaddeus’s later forays into the world of Fortean fringe sciences were a desperate attempt to stay in the limelight, or a genuine severance from reality, is still up for debate. What is known is that Thaddeus began to fund expeditions into famously remote and mysterious locations in search of fabled ‘cryptids’: the Mongolian Death Worm of the Gobi Desert, the M’kele-M’bembe of the Congo, and of course American ape, Bigfoot. What was left of his fortune after these ill-fated possible publicity stunts was soon being poured into a private project deep in the Olympic Peninsula.
—from “Lost Arcadias: Forgotten Attractions of the World”