Yesterday, April 21, was the 81st anniversary of one of the most famous (and controversy-riddled) photographs of the 20th century…the “Surgeon’s Photograph” of the Loch Ness Monster. The photograph (shown below) was first published in the British newspaper, The Daily Mail, and caused an immediate stir, prompting decades of continuous searching for the elusive monster. As it turns out, the photograph, finally attributed to a gynecologist named Robert Kenneth Wilson, was a hoax, but that has done little to deter folks from continuing to explore the deep, dark waters of the Loch, hoping for a glimpse of Nessie.
If you follow the Local and Family History Blog at all, you may recall that we have delved into the world of historic cryptozoology (i.e. mysterious creatures) before. We’ve previously posted about our region’s first Bigfoot sighting, the Belled Buzzard, and cabbage snakes. (Hey…this stuff fascinates us…what can we say.) So, in honor of the anniversary of the “Surgeon’s Photograph” and Earth Day, we offer you a couple more examples of odd, unsolved creature sightings from our area. All of these reports came from Paducah Sun articles from the early 1900’s.
November 24, 1909
Joe Styers of Oaks Station in Paducah reported capturing an animal with pure white fur that had the body of a raccoon with the head of a fox. A trapper by trade, Mr. Styers could not identify the animal, though he did report that someone offered him $25 for the pelt.
December 7, 1905
George Wade, a fisherman, was plying his trade in the waters of the Ohio one day when he pulled an unknown species of reptile out of water. The “serpent” was about a foot long with a body like an eel but with four legs and four fingers at the end of each leg. The skin was spotted, the head was flat, and its small eyes sat on top of its head. The animal was put into a jar and displayed at hooks drug store occasionally popping to the surface of the jar to hiss and shoot a foamy spray at the curious crowd.
April 3, 1903
Arthur Emery, a boy who lived at 1431 Kentucky Avenue, captured an alive but injured animal and brought it home. The animal was covered in tar and had long curved tusks and was wholly unidentifiable. According to the report, it was neither muskrat, otter, beaver, groundhog or “any other animal that the scores of people who saw it ever saw or heard.” The creature died a day after capture and young Mr. Emery planned to have it stuffed and mounted.
October 1, 1904
Many reports had been offered recently about a monster of huge dimension living in the Green River near Owensboro. This one (vouched for by the Sun) states that the monster was seen crossing the river at Ramsey, though the size of the monster varies by witness, ranging from size of a horse to two hundred feet long. The monster was seen devouring half a horse near Wrightsburg. There was no report as to the condition of the horse beforehand, which half was eaten, or what happened to the other half. The residents of the Ramsey neighborhood speculated that the monster was a sea horse escaped from a circus.
And there you have it, a few more enigmatic beasts for your enjoyment. Should you think this is a weird topic for us to cover, just remember that a new species of frog was just discovered in Costa Rica last week that looks a heck of lot Kermit the Frog. New discoveries are all around us; history is made all the time!
To read some of our old blogs (about Bigfoots, Belled Buzzards, or cabbage snakes) visit our library blog at mclib.net/blogs/history. Should you want to learn more about this or that or other such things, make sure and visit us at the Local and Family History Department at the McCracken County Public Library.