Terror in Our Own Backyard: Four Monsters in Iowa
Everyone knows about the classic monsters. Big Foot, Chupacabra, Jersey Devil, Loch Ness Monster, Yeti, etc.
But what about the lesser-knowns? Maybe the ones that could be in our very own backyard. Each and every corner of the world has some level of monster mania. Whether it's Africa, Nepal, Russia, the Philippines, and even here in our home state. Considering all the corn, and the not-so-dense population, our neck of the woods should be a hotbed for cryptid activity, right?
Let's take a look at some of the monster sightings and rumors in Iowa.
Okoboji Lake Monster
You know that one really big lake Iowa has? There's obviously something creepy in there. How could there not be?
Per nwestiowa.com and an article published in the Vindicator and Republican newspaper from Estherville, a couple had a run-in with a creature in the early 1900s.
The paper had this to say: “They saw something, or rather saw where something was. They have no idea what it was. It might have been a sea serpent, or it might have been some kind of a fish that had grown to unusual and extraordinary size. They were out in the lake in a boat, when they noticed a short distance from them a terrible commotion in the water. The thing, whatever it was, was moving quite rapidly through the water and quite close to the top, and had the appearance of being as large as an overturned skiff. It made waves so large that Mr. Bartlett was really alarmed, fearing they would swamp his boat. He does not pretend to know what it was and declares he would not have believed there was such a creature in the lake had he not seen with his own eyes the commotion made by it.”
Yup. Iowa Dragons.
You read that right the first time. And no, this isn't the name of the local AAU basketball team that plays at the rec center down the street.
Apparently, a few individuals in Burlington have reported sightings of a creature with "brown-skinned with a long, snake-like body and 15-foot bat-like wings. Its head was shaped like a seahorse and it had a skinny tail flowing behind it. They watched the dragon slither through the air until it flew high up in the night sky,' according cryptidz.fandom.com.
These sightings go back to the late 1800s and the most recent reported viewing of one of these creatures happened in Independence as recent as 2005!
The Van Meter Visitor
This is the real claim to fame Iowa has in the monster department. So much so that the Des Moines Register and the Discovery Channel's Expedition X re-visited the story in recent years. There's also a book capturing the tale.
The winged creature has been described as looking like a pterodactyl, and it first appeared in the city in 1903. The city's population at the time was roughly 400 people.
According to dailyyonder.com, "Multiple people reported seeing the nearly nine-foot tall creature. It flew overhead and jumped from rooftop to rooftop at incredible speeds, releasing a horrendous “memory erasing” stench. All the while, it shot bolts of light from a horn on its forehead. Bullets, the legend says, didn’t hurt it. One of the townspeople, Clarence Dunn, was an eyewitness to the creature’s visits and took a plaster cast of a three-toed footprint it left behind."
More on the creature:
Here we go -- Iowa's version of Big Foot.
The first officially reported sightings of the monster came on October 3rd, 1975.
According to pinebarrensinstitute.com a farmer in Lockridge, Herbert Peiffer, saw a four-legged creature stand up on its hind legs. The site explains exactly what Peiffer saw: "The man stated that he saw a bushy, dark haired creature that stood nearly 5ft tall, ran like a man, had the body shape of a bear, and had an ape like face."
After several other strange occurrences, the Peiffer family reported what they had seen, and unbeknownst to them, other residents of Lockridge said they'd seen the creature.
The site continued: "Many hunters in the area reported finding strange-looking tracks along stream edges and on sand bars along Turkey Creek. One even claimed to have been hunting close to the edge of the Peiffer's property a few weeks prior to the incident when he saw an unknown creature in their fields."