The Big Muddy Monster | Fact or Folklore

Lindsay + Tim Stockhecke

Folk^lore [noun]

the traditional beliefs, customs, and stories of a community, passed through the generations by word of mouth.

Myth or history, stories bind us. They carry the lessons of our ancestors and leave opportunities for contemplation and fodder for centuries to come. The Big Muddy Monster gives natives and visitors of Murphysboro, IL the opportunity to dissect and render judgment for a tale told around campfires for decades. A tale about a towering creature with a shrill, inhumane scream, menacing glowing eyes, and pungent stench. Having only heard a general description of The Big Muddy Monster story, learning more about it has proven to be fun and intriguing. The reports are credible and compelling and make for an enjoyable tale to investigate.

The Big Muddy Monster Sculpture, Murphsyboro, IL

Over a ten-day period in the summer of 1973 reports started coming into the police department describing an 8-foot, 350 lb, hair-covered beast. Over the next several days calls came in describing the same sighting with red eyes and an overwhelming odor. Search parties were assembled, including trained canines, tracking unusually large footprints and an unidentifiable slime.

“We don’t know what the creature is but we do believe what these people saw was real. We have tracked it”

Tony Berger, Murphysboro Police Chief 1973

The story was shocking locally and beyond, gathering national media coverage and resulting in letters flooding into the community with questions and concerns about the reported Big Foot. The New York Times ran a story titled “Yeti-Like ‘Monster’ Gives Staid Town in Illinois a Fright”. With multiple credible reports, the story of The Big Muddy Monster has maintained staying power over the years. Murphysboro has leaned into the folklore honoring it as a part of what makes the town special.

Check out some of the ways you can be a part of The Big Muddy Monster folklore while you’re in town

  1. Muddy Monster Comics | With the police reports lining the walls, memorabilia available for purchase and an owner well versed in the story this is a must-stop for any bigfoot enthusiast.
  2. Big Muddy Monster Statue | Located on the corner of Rte 13 and Hwy 127, this newly revealed, life-sized rendering has steps up for the perfect photo op.
  3. Big Muddy Monster Mural | A block off of Mainstreet at 104 N. 14th Street, this 3D art installation was a community collaborative project and is a must-see.
  4. Big Muddy Brewing | In addition to a variety of locally brewed beer inspired by the Big Muddy Monster available at liquor stores throughout the midwest, this brewery makes its own Rootbeer which makes a mean rootbeer float!
  5. Big Muddy Monster Festival | Hosted for the first time in June of 2023, this festival included a 5k run/walk, guest speakers and presentations at The Liberty Theatre, local sight tours, kids activities, and festival vendors. We expect this to be an event that gets better and better each year and they are already planning for 2024.
  6. Big Muddy Monster Brewfest | Scheduled for October each year at Riverside Park, where the first official sighting was reported, this festival includes music, craft beer, local folklore, and more.

Round it out with a visit to the home of Superman in Metropolis to your East and the home of Popeye in Chester to your North.

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