January 26, 2016 | Posted in WereWOOFS
Indiana has seen its share of aquatic demons, monsters, and hairy, Bigfoot-esque marauders that haunt the banks of the Ohio River. There are so many sightings and so many different descriptions and names for these creatures. Sometimes these beasts bear striking similarities to one another, while at others remaining completely independent and unique. The thing that is certain, however, is that the Ohio River is a hotspot for crypids and cryptid hunters alike.
Some people blame the area’s history of lizardman cryptids on the movie Creature from the Black Lagoon, which preceded a rash of sightings in 1955, just one year after the creature feature hit theaters. But the fact remains that even before this point in history, before monster movies were a big thing, there were stories surrounding the river and campsites around it, stories dating back to the 1800’s. It is convenient to point to someone’s overactive imagination, yet even with the advent of the new millennia, the 2000’s, there are still legends being passed from ear to ear of peoples’ personal experiences and theories.
The story that caught the most attention in 1955 took place in late August. Mrs. Johnson and Mrs. Lamble were a pair of gals enjoying the summer sun beside the Ohio River near Evansville, Indiana. Mrs. Johnson was swimming around a few yards offshore while her friend drifted about nearby on a small raft, sunning herself. Mrs. Lamble sat bolt upright as her friend’s screams filled the air. She could only watch in horror as Mrs. Johnson was yanked underwater, clearly struggling against something that was dragging her down. Mrs. Johnson would describe it later as a hand, claws digging into her skin and pulling at her with inhuman strength. She said it felt as though the monster’s hand was covered in thick coat of slimy hair, which is ultimately what allowed her to twist her leg free and swim away. She was grabbed a second time after freeing herself, but she managed to wrap her arms around an inner tube, the splash of the impact apparently frightening the creature away. Needless to say, the two women got on land as fast as they could.
Once on shore, the two of them examined Mrs. Johnson’s leg, which was where she had been grabbed. It was bleeding from a few puncture wounds, although that was not the most astonishing part. A vivid green handprint was tattooed into her skin, and it would not start to fade for many days. One of them collected a sample of the print and of the mud left on her leg for lab testing. The green substance could not be identified, but they were informed that the mud was a type only seen in deep underwater caves or ravines.
Modern theorists like to link this monster, named the Green Claw Monster, to the Thetis Lake Monster because of a shared aggressive nature, but Thetis Lake is in Canada, nowhere near the Ohio River. In fact, Thetis Lake is entirely on the opposite side of the continent. There have been a few similar stories in other states, such as North Carolina, Delaware, and Louisiana, but it is hard to link the Green Claw Monster to any of these because the two women could not describe the thing beyond what Mrs. Johnson experienced as she was being dragged and what they both saw etched into the poor woman’s flesh. Besides that, she described it as “feeling furry”, which would be a major difference between this monster and the Thetis Lake Monster, which is said to look a lot like the Creature from the Black Lagoon.
Interestingly though, this is one of the only monster cases in Indiana that has an epilogue of government interference. Mr. and Mrs. Johnson were visited in their home by a man who claimed to be an Air Force Colonel. He asked Mrs. Johnson many questions about her experience and took extensive notes before warning her not to discuss the incident with anyone else in the future. This incident adds an element of eeriness to the situation far worse than a mere green handprint. The visit is very reminiscent of those of the Men in Black when someone stumbles upon a UFO or investigates too far in matters of alien abductions. Yet, in cases of cryptids, it always seems to be normal humans who intervene, not strange, ethereal men in black suits.
One of the creatures that could possibly be the Green Claw Monster, although it is a stretch, is the Loveland Frogmen. These creatures were spotted by many people along riverside roadways throughout 1955 near Loveland, Ohio. They were described as being short, 3-4 feet all, humanoid creatures with damp-looking, wrinkly skin and frog-like faces. Their fingers were webbed, but humanoid enough to grasp onto nearby objects and throw them at passersby. Witnesses always described them as somewhat distracted, squatting in small groups of three to five near the water, but they would become agitated when they became aware of human intrusion. It is unknown if these creatures have true “claws”, however, and the aggressive nature of the Green Claw Monster indicates that it is most likely something else. The Frogmen have never attacked anyone who was simply minding their own business.
A monster that has the “hairy” element that Mrs. Johnson spoke of is the Big Muddy Monster, who, surprisingly, does not get its name from its appearance, but rather the fact that it was spotted first on the Big Muddy River. A couple was camping beside the waterway when an unearthly, booming cry went up from somewhere in the trees, accompanied, rather alarmingly, by great, shuddering footsteps. The couple huddled together beside the fire, watching the woods for the thing. They did not have long to wait before a great, lumbering beast with whitish fur, which they said was streaked liberally with mud and plant matter, stepped into view. They stated that the thing had glowing red eyes and an incredible stench, like dead fish mixed with animal musk. Naturally, the couple did not allow the creature to get any closer to them. They got in their car and hightailed it straight to the Murphysboro Police Station.
Skeptical, but willing to investigate, a pair of officers went to investigate the campground. What they found were a series of deep footprints, 12 inches long and 3 inches across, which circled the site before making for the water again. They immediately called for backup, and once a second pair of officers was on the scene, the four of them set about following the prints along the river. They did not have to follow them far before they, too, were assaulted by the beast’s horrid shrieks. Those same, ground-shaking footsteps were coming closer, accompanied by a wet sloshing as the beast traversed the boggy ground. The officers, faring no better than the couple, fled the scene. They stayed near their car all night, but daylight brought no fresh clues.
It was not, however, the last of the Big Muddy Monster. There were reports of the creature in residential areas, all fitting the same description, “a white beast with a heavy step and horrifying cry”. It was even seen just outside of carnival grounds as the workers set up, watching a group of ponies tethered outside one of the tents. While this monster cannot necessarily be described as aggressive, its actions were certainly inquisitive, which frightened a great many people. Of course, the monster’s location, Illinois, might lead some to say that it could not be linked to the Green Claw Monster, but if one digs a little deeper, one might notice that the Big Muddy River is actually an offshoot of the Mississippi River, which is connected, to the Ohio River, thus linking both waterways.
The last creature of interest is the Ohio Grassman, which sports a thick, stinky coat of green. This cryptid is most commonly viewed as some type of Bigfoot, as it is around seven feet tall with the stench to place it within most of the Bigfoot stereotypes. However, the Grassman is notable for its aggressive behavior toward intruders as well as its color and location. The Grassman tends to stick close to rivers, building huge nests on the ground as well as in trees. It is known for hurling rocks and twigs at hikers and hunters, sometimes at what could be considered a fatal velocity, should it strike a man in the head.
Grassman encounters have been reported as far back as 1869, the first of which being a man and his daughter. The ape-like being tackled the father to the ground, wrestling with him quite fiercely until the daughter spooked it by hurling rocks at its face. Many more sightings have occurred along Morgan’s Trail, though none have had the terrifying experience of a wrestling match with the beast since 1869.
Unfortunately, while the Grassman resides near water, he doesn’t necessarily spend much time in water. There has only been the one recorded case of someone actually physically touching the beast, and there was no mention of a lasting green stain after the experience. It is quite possible that the Green Claw Monster was something else altogether, or perhaps the Grassman has evolved in the past 100 years into something more aquatic and strange.
If you’re interested in finding some water cryptids, though, the Ohio River definitely seems like the place to be.