Thursday, March 25, 2010

White River Monster

Full grown Elephant Seal

The White River's muddy water edge

Water is indeed a mysterious medium. It can hide the most strange, dangerous and amazing creatures, while they swim within inches of your body. Do you ever wonder, when you take that first step into dark moving water, what else can be in here with me?

The second step, you proceed deeper into the dim murkiness,...........will I come out alive?

If not,........then maybe you should. It seems as if bodies of water all around the globe, have a mysterious story to tell, about alarming creatures living in or near them.
A bizarre event has been happening on and off for the last century, in the mystic waters of the White River, Arkansas. The town of Newport has been seeing a very odd creature since 1915, and each time it makes an appearance, an uproar can be heard from coast to coast.

What in the world are they seeing?

A dark, massive creature, the size of four pick-up trucks, with smooth slick skin, that at times appeared to be lumping and peeling off of it's body. The massive head has a rather large and elongated snout, with a bone like protrusion or horn projecting from it's forehead. It was slow moving going down into the water, then resting on the surface. While some witnesses reported no visible legs on the creature, others stated that massive 3 toed prints were found all along the muddy river banks. Occasionally it was known to emitted a low, guttural, mooing sound.

Well,........this doesn't sound like anything I have ever seen in a river! Lets go on.........
The most publicised account of the creature was in July of 1937. Mrs. Wyatt, a sharecropper who lived near the river's water edge, came out of her home to draw water from her well. While looking about the scenery, she noticed the creature slowly moving in the water. Confused and concerned about what she was witnessing, she ran into her home to inform her husband. Dee listened to his wife, then went outside for a look. Sure enough,........there it was, a massive creature quietly going up and down in the water. Dee proceeded to tell farmer Bateman, who upon seeing the creature for himself stated, " It was as big as a box car.....and as slick as a slimy elephant without legs."
Farmer Bateman went to Newport with the story and the nation's press ran with it. County Deputy Z. B. Reid, accompanied Bateman back to the location in questioned and was able to witness a 30' ring of bubbles and foam where the creature broke the water. Reid was reported as saying, " It looked like a large Sturgeon or Catfish."
It was regarded as a thrilling moment in time. A mystery creature in our waters! The Newport chamber of commerce erected a fence around the area where the creature was spending most of his time...........and painted a sign that read,.... "25 cents to view the monster." To direct the crowds to the official spot, signs were placed on all area roads stating, "This Way to the White River Monster."
A deep water diver, named Charles B. Brown, was hired by the chamber of commerce to dive into the water with the creature. The town was in an excited state over this new development. Brown met with and talked at length with Bateman and Wyatt.. then said, " In my opinion's nothing more than a large fish.......maybe a catfish."
Never the less, Brown would not go into the water without a prepared 8' harpoon.

Talk had reached Washington, where the Bureau of Fisheries believed (without once seeing it), that it may be an Alligator-gar, which can reach sizes of 20 feet! It seemed as if everyone had a theory,......some believed it was a Sturgeon, others a Devil fish, even "Old Blue",.......the name of the legendary giant catfish of the Mississippi, was included in the list.

The day of the dive arrived and hundreds of people from all over the region, lined the banks of the river. The whole town of Newport declared it an unofficial holiday! A circus like atmosphere sprang up where barbecued sandwiches and ice cold beverages were being sold to the onlookers. A loud speaker was set up to announce the proceedings as the diver went into the water. Brown was submerged for an agonizing long hour and fifteen minutes. The crowd was in a hushed and nervous state, busily munching on the snacks they had purchased. When Brown emerged, he said the visibility was poor, (due to recent rains), and he could only see maybe 3 or 4 inches in front of his face. Brown tried once more later that afternoon but ended the dive with no success.

The excitement was at a heightened pitch that day and the river side festivities continued on into the night. Lights were lit and what would be called "The Monster Dance" commenced.

The following day, most of the crowd was asleep from the late night festivities and very few turned out to see Brown make another attempt at finding the creature. A problem with the air valve caused the diver to return to the surface for air. Exasperated, Brown reported once again he could see nothing in the immediate water area and the crowd faded away to nothingness and quiet,..... once more on the river bank.

Forward to the summer of 1971, when a furry of activity was once again drawn to the river banks, amid numerous reports of creature sightings and foot prints. Massive three toed tracks, 14 inches in length were found going in and out of the water, from Townhead Island. Something of incredible size was moving about in the area, crushing small trees and smashing down bushes.
That is when Ollie Ritcherson and Joey Dupree decided they wanted to investigate the territory for themselves. The two adventurers took a boat out on the water and drifted along, all the while watching with nervous anticipation. Abruptly the boat stopped dead in the water and they proceeded to rise up out of the gloomy depths. The two immediately realised,....... they were on the back of a massive creature!

The episode supposedly ended without harm to the animal .....or the amateur investigators.

Fish and wildlife experts now believe that the White River Monster is possibly an Elephant Seal, that was terribly lost. It is possible that the animal could have made it's way up the Mississippi, from it's natural habitat of the ocean. Considering Elephant Seals are capable of reaching sizes of 16 feet and weighing in at around 7,500lbs., with long snouts, and bone like protrusions growing from their heads, deep mooing sounds and moulting skin, certainly seems like we could have a match.

However, what about the three toed prints?

What about all the witnesses who thought it resembled more of a fish type creature?

What about the life span?.....Elephant Seals live to around 15 years old and this creature has been sighted since 1915,... is there a breeding population............or.............. are that many animals getting lost up river?

Could the White River Monster be some entirely new animal that prefers the fresh water of the river?

Make sure you keep the unknown in mind on your next trip to the river. You never know what swims beneath you!
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