Missouri Monsters Part 1
The Ozarks have been home to many mysterious and mythical creatures over the years. These creatures roamed the Ozark hills, woods, and waterways striking fear and stirring imaginations. Their stories have been passed down from generation to generation, and sightings have been recounted in newspapers across the region. Here are just a few of the well-known creatures of the Ozarks and just a few of their tales.
Perhaps the best-known creature of the Ozarks is the Gowrow. A lizard-like animal about 20 feet long, the Gowrow has enormous tusks, long incisors and canine teeth, short legs, and a vicious claw on each toe. Its body is covered in green scales and short spikes line its back. The Gowrow’s tail is long and thin, with a sharp, blade-like formation at the end. It lives in caverns and under rock ledges. It is a carnivorous creature, devouring great numbers of deer, calves, sheep, goats, and, according to some reports, human beings.
A traveling salesman named William Miller claimed to have encountered and killed a Gowrow somewhere near Marshall, Arkansas, in 1897. Miller said he came upon the Gowrow’s cave, where he found many skeletons, skulls and bones, and scraps of human flesh from a recent feast. After killing the Gowrow, Miller said he shipped the creature’s skin and skeleton to the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C. Smithsonian officials were unable to confirm Miller’s claim.
Described as a “kind of ghostly dinosaur,” the Jimplicute is believed to be a large dragon or lizard and is said to wander the roadsides at night, snatching unsuspecting travelers and feeding off their blood.
About the size of a yearling calf, the Side-Hill Hoofer lives in burrows on steep hillsides. The creatures always run around the hill in the same direction, as the legs on one side of its body are much longer than those on the other side. Because of this, if the Hoofer ever reached level ground, it could not run or walk at all. One Ozarker told of two variations of the species: one that ran clockwise, the other running counter-clockwise, around hills. “There was an awful fight when the two varieties met,” he claimed. Hoofers could only move up or down the hillsides in long, gradual curves.
Resembling an amphibious panther, the Gally-wampus will jump into the water and swim like a colossal mink. Gally-wampuses are thought to kill livestock, though they only attack a human if cornered. One old-timer around Jefferson City told of a Gally-wampus destroying his grandfather’s corn patch, explaining that the creature came “down the creek so fast that he couldn’t stop at the Big Bend, an’ skidded right down the valley through the cornfields.”
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