The Buena Vista Giant Spiders were an unknown species reported from a cave near Cottonwood Pass in Buena Vista, Colorado. Stories about the spiders were current through the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, during which time it was reported that the spiders territory had shrunk due to human encroachment. It seems this lead to their extinction.
Giant spiders of similar size have been reported worldwide, most notably the J'ba Fofi.
The spiders were described as having legs four inches in length and with a body the size of a small bird. They were said to fill their cave habitat with a strong thick web. As they worked the spiders were said to emit a strange whistling or buzzing sound. The cave became known to travellers and fronteirsmen for its silk thread. Locals also supposedly used the spiders dead "skins" as gloves, noting "they are pliable and require no tanning." It was reported that captured spiders could be "tamed" and acted as household pest exterminators. They could even form personal attachments like a pet, as attested by the Buena Vista woman whose spider gaurded the foot of her bed, "acting as sentinel." Beat author William Burroughs includes a variant of the pet spider as sentinel story in his novel 'The Western Lands' in which American and Egyptian legends are mixed. In the 1830s a prospector ventured into the spiders cave and was buried in a rock slide. His web-suffocated corpse was apparentally visible to cave explorers for many years, being in a tight spot beyond retrievability. Afterwards the spiders pushed back into the surrounding mountains. Human encroachment and farming seems to have diminished the spiders territory and possibly lead to their extinction, as folklore surrounding them faded into obscurity in the twentieth century.
There are several explanations as to what the creature could be. Theories include:
- A newspaper tall tale
- A local tradition about known spiders
- An unknown species (Cryptid)