; Phantoms and Monsters - Real Cryptid Encounter Reports - Fortean Researcher Lon Strickler

Monday, March 21, 2016

River Monster at New Madrid

The following account was found in the Nebraska Advertiser (Brownsville, Nebraska) on October 4, 1877:


A Boat Load of People Upset by the Gigantic Monster

Special to the Globe-Democrat

New Madrid (Missouri) - September 18. The river monster which has been seen at so many different points above here creating great consternation and devouring horses and cattle that swim the river, has undoubtedly reached this neighborhood, and there is considerable excitement over its arrival.

This morning, about 8 o'clock, while the ferry-boat, which contained two wagons and three horsemen, was crossing to the eastern shore, and while in the middle of the river; there was a violent shaking of the boat, the movement being so sudden, that one man who was seated on the gunwale was thrown into the water but, grasping the side of the boat, was drawn in with no further damage than a thorough drenching:

The first shake was tremendous, like the motion of an earthquake, but the second lifted the boat clear from the water and almost capsized it, the horses retaining a standing position with the utmost difficulty. The water was agitated as if by a whirlpool; the waves breaking up two feet high and washing clear across the boat from bow to stern. Almost at the same instant the occupants saw, forty feet away, an immense object cutting through the water with irresistible force. This was undoubtedly the pelican-beaked head of the enormous monster, the violent rocking of the boat being caused by the motion of his tail. The leviathan threw a stream of water ten feet high, making a noise that was plainly heard on shore. After this the monster disappeared beneath the water.

This is the account given by those in the boat. Though almost scared out of their wits, they managed to row to shore, returning to this side. When the story was related, it created a great sensation among the inhabitants of the village, and fifty or a hundred men went down the river to catch, if possible, a sight of the gigantic reptile. There is considerable excitement on the subject, and it is probable an expedition will be organized here to watch the river and kill the monster. Besides the ferrymen, there were five persons on the boat, as follows:

W. Ferris and wife, George Smith, B. W. Williams and Henry Hoffmeyer. The latter is traveling agent for a well-known St. Louis firm, and the others are people well-known here for their veracity.

As you may know, this general area of Missouri, Tennessee and the Mississippi River has a history of earthquakes (New Madrid Seismic Zone) which has changed the course of the river throughout history. In fact, on some occasions the ground has rose to the point where the river flowed backwards.

The Muskogee people thought the phenomenon was a river god, the Tie Snake, writhing under the ground. The Tie Snake was believed to be an antlered river monster who lurked beneath the water and straddled the divide between the Upper and Lower Worlds...between sky and river, and order and chaos.

There have been supposed 'monsters' seen in the Mississippi for centuries. This particular beast was most likely a large paddlefish, huge catfish or possibly a gigantic alligator that moved up river. Bull sharks have also been known to enter the river from the Gulf of Mexico and have been seen as far north as Illinois.

Mississippi River paddlefish

Pepie: The Lake Monster of the Mississippi River

River Monsters: True Stories of the Ones that Didn't Get Away

Field Guide to Lake Monsters, Sea Serpents, and Other Mystery Denizensof the Dee

American Monsters: A History of Monster Lore, Legends, and Sightings in America