November 1st was the 42nd anniversary of sightings of the "Mill Race Monster" in Mill Race Park, Columbus, Indiana. On November 1, 1974, four teenage girls and two women had two separate sightings of a monster that was described as "green, hairy, and large." The local paper printed a short story on the sightings, headlined "Monster - Women Report Seeing 'Beast' in Mill Race:"
"They swear it's true. Six young women told city police Friday in to separate reports that they had seen a 'Mill Race Monster' - once in broad daylight.
"And whatever it is, the six are agreed, it is (1) Green, (2) Hairy, (3) Large, about six feet tall and walking upright, and (4) Has claws.
"Four of the women, whose names police did not list, said they saw 'the thing' about 3 p.m. Friday near the paved boat ramp in the park along White river at the west end of Fifth street. The other two said it jumped on the hood of their car, leaving scratch marks in the paint. That was about 11:45 p.m. No one was hurt, only frightened, police said.
"Officers searched the are on both occasions but found nothing. They are hoping it's only a misguided hobgoblin who lost its sense of timing and doesn't know Halloween is over for another year. But, just the same, they warned other residents to take care and keep an eye out for the 'monster.'"
On November 6, the Republic (the newspaper) printed another story on a third sighting of the creature:
"The Mill Race Monster has returned, apparently stepping out of the shadows Tuesday long enough to scare to park-goers... county police reported two men in their 20's saw a large, hairy 'thing' hiding behind trees near the covered bridge about 4 p.m. and again shortly before midnight... The men, who did not give their names, said after seeing the monster Tuesday afternoon, they returned with binoculars that evening to get a better look. They told police that the monster was found, an eventually chased them from the park."Then, on November 9, the Indianapolis Star reported that two dogcatchers, 19-year-old John Brown and 20-year-old Rick Duckworth, were "studying ways to rescue cats in the trees" in the park when they encountered the monster. They initially saw the creature when it was about 200 feet away, and Duckworth decided to go after it. The Star reported:
"When Duckworth started toward the monster, the beast took off 'as fast as a deer' and disappeared into the woods. With the monster gone, the two men obtained a ladder and lowered the two cats to the ground. As soon as they hit the ground the two cats took off 'like bolts of lightning,' with one disappearing into the distance and the other running into a sewer line, according to Duckworth. 'They were really scared,' he added."
But, what did the monster look like? Not a 7-foot tall thing, Duckworth said. It was only "a large framed man wearing a green mask and green blankets."
The real frightening thing, however, is that Duckworth told the Star that if he saw the "creature" again, he would shoot it with his tranquilizer gun!
After the hoaxer theory appeared after that report, that's what officials decided the "monster" was. Witness Tyra Cataline, however, was not happy with that explanation. She said:
"I know it's real and what I saw is not a joke. It was not a person in a costume. It was really something that could move around. It could grimace its face. It was growling. It was very aggressive. So people can think what they want to. I know what I saw and it was pretty bad… I don't want to think about it too long because it still scares me to this day."
|Monsters and Mysteries in America|
Soon the story of the monster spread, and people from all across Indiana went to Columbus to hunt for it. Chris McDaniel, a paranormal researcher from Columbus, described the situation: "People were coming out of the woodwork and they were walking through the woods with baseball bats and shotguns… it was getting to be a thorny situation."
To keep people safe, the city park director ordered that the park be closed at night.
What was the monster? Not surprisingly, no one really knows. Some think it was a Bigfoot-like creature. Others say possibly a lizard man. The two men who reported the second sighting of the creature even thought that it could have been connected to UFOs that had been seen in Indiana. On November 6, 1974, the Republic said that :
"One of the men suggest an explanation for the newly found monster, that it had been left here in the early fall by visitors from another planet. At the time, Columbus and much of the midwest was flooded by sightings of unidentified flying objects."
Whatever it is, the mystery of the Mill Race Monster lives on...