Sunday, September 24, 1978

Have you seen Muddy ‘monster’?

By Dan Hubble
Southern Illinoisan

In the 1970’s, the Big Muddy River seeped into Southern Illinois folklore when it provided a home for a mysterious creature now dubbed ‘The Big Muddy Monster”

The monster was first reported in June of 1972 by a couple living on a farm in Pike County, Mo., about 75 miles north of St.Louis.

The couple reported seeing a flashing circle of light that hovered over the ground for five minutes before it landed. Later, that night, a woman reported seeing something pass her window, but when she went outside, whatever it was had disappeared, leaving a rank smell behind it.

Other person nearby told the county sheriff they heard strange growls “that couldn’t have come from animals.

Deputy sheriffs later found tracks along a cow path but the sheriff said they wre too unrecognizable and could have come from any kind of animal.

The same night, a large, white-haired animal was reported in Cairo, but authorities the dismissed the report.

A year later, the first close-up look at the monster was reported by a Murphsyboro couple, who said they saw the monster near Riverside Park.

Police found tracks leading to the river near the scene and reported hearing strange screams in the distance.

The couple described the monster as being seven feet tall with light, mud-covered hair.

It was reported again the next night by two teen-agers in the Westwood Hill Subdivision near the river. They added that the monster weighed between 300 and 350 pounds and had a distinct odor of river mud about it.

Again, tracks were found and police, with a tracking dog, followed the trail. After losing it briefly the dog picked up the  scent and led police to a barn, but refused to enter. Police found nothing inside the barn.

A young married couple later reported that their 5-year-old son had come into the house and said a ghost was outside. At the time, they dismissed the idea, but said later it may have been the monster.

A year slipped by before the monster was reported again, this time by three youths in Union County. In September of 1974, they reported seeing the  monster while driving on a lonely road. They stopped their car and followed it to a hedge before it disappeared.

They were close enough to report it had blue eyes and its head was about a foot and a half in width.

In February of 1975, the monster was reported seen at the junction of Illinois 3 and 149 by four truck drivers, who described it as looking like a bear or gorilla.

In July of that year, two youths in Harrison reported seeing a strange animal, but the light was too dim to determine exactly what it looked like.

Since then, the monster has apparently vanished.