Community keeps “monster” legend alive

A lot of town have local legends, but the legend of the Big Muddy Monster is backed up by police reports.

From 1973 to 1988 sightings of the Big Muddy Monster were documented by law enforcement, and national publications like the New York Times.

Murphysboro, Illinois, is a town of about 8,000 people bordering the Big Muddy River. Since 1973 Mayor Will Stephens says his town has been famous for 3 things.

"Barbecue, Bigfoot, and the Apple Festival," said Stephens.

According to Murphysboro Police reports beginning in June of 1973, people began seeing an unknown creature that was 7 to 8 feet tall and 350 pounds. 

Officers searched the area near Riverside Park with dogs and found tracks, a slimy substance, and noting a musty odor.

"There were sworn police officers who responded to the scene that heard something that they couldn’t describe," said Stephens.  "The paperwork surrounding that is the most requested file from the city of Murphysboro every year."

Some might find the Big Muddy Monster scary, but Chuck Stuhrenberg says it draws people from all over to his brewery and city sponsored events.

"People have a lot of fun with it," said Stuhrenberg.  "We have a lot of tourists who aren’t even familiar with the Big Muddy Monster so we tell them the story, or they go online and read it and we explain it to them."

"People go out of their way to see these things, and it’s part of tourism and attracting people to our town," said Stephens.

"Maybe he’ll come back some day," said Stuhrenberg.

The last confirmed sighting of the Big Muddy Monster was back in 1988, but Mayor Stephens says that doesn’t stop people from to searching the woods and waters around town for the truth.

Stephens says he hopes to one day commission a Big Muddy Monster statue for the city with hopes of attracting people to town the way Superman draws people to Metropolis.

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