Saturday, May 28, 2022

Mississippi's Bigfoot: The 'Chatawa Monster'

Recently, someone asked me about the 'Chatawa Monster,' and if I knew anything about it. I had never heard of this cryptid, so I decided to explore the internet for some information:

From The Chatawa Monster: Mississippi's Bigfoot:

According to Pike County legend, a circus train rolling down the old Illinois Central Railroad to New Orleans derailed in the Tangipahoa swamps near Chatawa.  Aboard this train was a variety of strange and unusual critters, but the most notorious was billed as a half-man, half-ape hybrid.  He was terribly ferocious and would attack any person or animal that got too close, so he had to be kept in a heavy iron cage in his own railcar.  When the train derailed, all of the railcars crashed into the woods and most of the animals were killed.  The only survivors were the ape-man and a few monkeys.  A couple of weeks after the wreck, the ape-man was spotted lurking near St. Mary of the Pines, so a search party was quickly put together and sent out to recapture him.  But they returned empty handed, and the ape-man was never seen again.  Yet sightings of a large, hairy, Bigfoot-like creature roaming the swamps near Chatawa persist to this day.

Then from Focused on Mississippi: Chatawa Monster:

PIKE COUNTY, Miss. (WJTV) – People have been talking about the Chatawa Monster for as long as anybody can remember.

Playing heavily into the legend is the old Illinois Central Rail Road and the proximity it has to the Tangipahoa River and swamps.

There’s Kramer’s lodge, which used to have an animal sanctuary. And curiously, playing prominently into the legend, is the old Saint Mary School– a religious retreat near Osyaka in south Mississippi.

But several decades ago a prominent private school, very popular with New Orleans families wanted their children to get a good education, but not be too far away.

Now as far as the monster, he’s supposed to be a Bigfoot type creature that makes noises and is glimpsed in the edge of the woods and wandering through the swamps around Chatawa.

My source for much of my material about the monster is Sam McKinney who is a lifelong resident of the area. He says the monster is supposed to be a big ape that escaped from a mythical circus train wreck near the Tangipohoa swamps.

But people have seen something in the woods near Chatawa. So, Sam says a possibility is Kramer Lodge that is supposed to have had monkeys in its animal sanctuary. Even the Nuns who taught at St. Mary claim to have seen monkeys in the woods.

Which brings us to St. Mary. Now back during the time, it was a school. It seems most of the claims of someone to have actually seen the big hairy Chatawa Monster were made by upper classmen to freshmen. Upon their arrival, they warned them not to wander too close to the woods or the river and for goodness sake don’t try to run away back home to New Orleans or they would never be heard of again.

And then there would be a bunch of names of examples of kids who disappeared in just that way. No one really ever knew them personally. 

One thing that is real at Chatawa is an artesian well that has been fixed up so you can come get a drink if you’d like. But, be careful. Don’t you imagine this is where the Chatawa Monster gets his water, too? It’s easy to find. It’s right across the tracks from the Chatawa Post Office, where the monster no doubt gets his mail.

The following drawing is, according a local I contacted, the only known representation of the beast. It was produced by a witness who encounter the monster while at a local swimming hole in 1975:


NOTE: If you have a Chatawa Monster sighting or encounter, or any other cryptid experience, feel free to forward to me: Thanks. Lon

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Contact me by email - Thanks. Lon

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