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On the 5th of March 1954, the Creature from the Black Lagoon was released to scare and stun cinema audiences the world over.
A little over a year later, fact seemed to be following fiction. In May 1955, on a quiet road near Loveland in Ohio, bordering the Little Miami river, one lone business man encountered monsters.
Some time in the early hours he spotted three strange figures in the road, and pulled up to the curb to observe them more closely. He described them as about 3- 4 foot tall, with leathery skin, standing upon two legs. These bipedal creatures appeared reptilian but even more strongly resembled frogs in their facial features and their webbed hands and feet. An artists impression can be found here.
Now I'm sure both we and the anonymous business man must be thinking at this point things can't get any stranger than this. He decided to make a exit but as he pulled away one of the creatures pulled out a "wand", held it above it's head and sparks were seen to fly from it. Needless to say, our intrepid witness made a very quick getaway!
Just a few months later one girl may have had an even closer encounter...
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About 250 miles from Loveland is the town of Evansville in Indiana lying alongside the Ohio River (of which the Little Miami river is a tributary). Three months after the weird encounter in Loveland, two girlswere taking a swim in the river. Darwin Johnson and Chris Lamble were enjoying the sun on the 21st August 1955 when, suddenly, Johnson was seized around the knee by an unknown hand and dragged under the water. She kicked herself free of this unwanted attention and resurfaced but was immediately seized from behind.
As her friend screamed her heart out, Johnson made one last attempt to break free and grabbed hold of her friends inner tube violently. Somehow they both made it back to shore without further attack. Johnson had multiple cuts on her leg along with a green, palmprint shaped stain which could not be removed for several days. This led to a nickname for the "creature" among some cryptozoologists of "The Green Clawed Monster".
Whilst no one saw the assailant, could this underwater menace be related to the Loveland Frogmen?
It wasn't until the 3rd of March, 1972 that the Loveland frogmen made another appearance. A police officer was cruising along Riverside Road, Loveland at a very slow speed due to icy conditions. He noticed something like a dog lying by the curb, but no sooner did he see it than the creature darted out in front of the cruiser forcing him to hit the brakes.
The creature lay prone in the beam of headlights. As the officer peered out of his window screen he watched as it stood upright on two legs and stared right back at him, it's eyes glowing from the reflection of his headlights. It then clambered over the railing on the side of the road, down the slope and into the Little Miami river.
The officer described this creature in exactly the same way as that poor businessman did 20 years previously. Another officer investigated the scene the next day but found little evidence of the encounter beyond some scratch marks on the railings which the frogman went over.
Two weeks later Mark Mathews, another police officer, had an encounter with something although later recanted on what he saw. American Monsters describes events accordingly:
The second sighting occurred two weeks later while police officer Mark Mathews had an encounter of his own. According to the report officer Mathews, while driving into Loveland, spotted what he believed to be an injured animal lying on the pavement.
Mathews climbed out of his cruiser with the intention of removing the carcass from the already ice slickened road, when the creature abruptly lurched upwards into a "crouched" position. Taken aback by the Frog Man's Reptilian visage, Mathews unholstered his revolver and took a shot at the creature, which then proceeded to hobble over to the side of the road and step over the guardrail - all the while keeping a watchful eye on the trigger-happy officer. Mathews' "Frogman" matched the first officer's description down to the last detail, with the exception of a tail, which was absent in earlier reports.
His later tale is somewhat different, if actually slightly LESS believable if that was somehow possible. Here it is recounted by X-Project Paranormal Magazine
In an e-mail interview with retired officer Mark Mathews, the second police officer that saw the bizarre creature in March 1972, he states, "There is absolutely nothing to the incident that relates to 'monsters' or the 'paranormal'. This entire thing has been habitually blown out of proportion...".
Mr. Mathews continues with his first-hand account of what he saw:
"It was and is no 'monster'. It was not leathery or [had] wet matted fur. It was not 3-5 feet tall. It did not stand erect. The animal I saw was obviously some type of lizard that someone had as a pet that either got too large for its aquarium, escaped by accident or they simply got tired of it. It was less than 3 feet in length, ran across the road and was probably blinded by my headlights. It presented no aggressive action."
Mr. Mathews pointed out more discrepancies in this famous story. He shot at the creature, as no one had believed his partner's sighting a few nights before. Despite being hit, the lizard still escaped and Mathews suspected it either died of the wound or eventually died from the cold weather. The dramatic, commonly described scene of the lizard standing erect and stepping over the guardrail while keeping it's watchful eyes on Officer Mathews in fact, never happened.
Hmm... this officer's a little trigger happy indeed!! But then again police officers are only human and just as likely to do stupid, dangerous things as anyone else.
If we are to believe the tales of the Loveland Frogmen we must completely rearrange our worldview, because for these creatures to exist we must imagine possibilities outside the fields of known science and head into realms of fantasy. But sometimes that isn't a bad thing. Maybe there is something out there...
A few months after the two police officers encounters, on the 19th of August 1972, two boys - Robin Flewellyn and Gordon Pike - had their own encounter with an aquatic monster in Thetis Lake, British Columbia, Canada. The Thetis Lake Monster was born...
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This freakishly scary fiend of a fish is quite different from most lake monsters in that it has a humanoid body similar to that of the beast from the film The Creature from the Black Lagoon. In 1972, two teenagers on the shore of the lake said they witnessed a scaly, humanoid form suddenly rise from the water. The two teens turned and took off, but the creature caught up and cut one the boy's hands with a barbed fin on its skull. - Epoch Times
A day after the story was published in a newspaper (which would be the 23rd August 1972) two men came forward claiming to have also seen the monster but on the opposite of the lake to where the two boys saw it.
(Update: Coincidentally, Cryptomundo has a piece on the Thetis Lake Monster today)
But perhaps this story lends some credence to Officer Mathews recantation of his original story in favour of a large escaped pet.
The mystery was solved soon afterward. On August 26, the Province newspaper said police got a call from a man who’d lost a teju lizard (below left) in the area the previous year. Tejus, which are native to South America and often kept as pets (their mottled black-and-white skins are also used for cowboy boots), grow up to three feet long. The police decided the lizard matched the monster’s description, and closed the case. - Unknown Victoria
So perhaps these water monsters are really nothing more than large lizards misidentified by the ill-informed. Speaking of which:
W. Haden Blackman suggested in his 1998 Field Guide to North American Monsters that something's still lurking around. “If you do come across it, remember these kind of creatures are all considered extremely dangerous,” wrote Blackman, who told would-be hunters to carry a flaming torch to prevent an attack – a bit of advice far more deadly in the tinder-dry park than any old reptile. - Unknown Victoria
Beware cryptozoologists offering tips of dealing with mystery animals is all I can say. What sort of person makes up remedies for things they don't even know for sure are real??? Madness.
Here's a little video from the Monster Spotter team on the Loveland Frogmen.
Mothman and Other Curious Encounters - Loren Coleman (UK Amazon, US Amazon)
Monster Spotters Guide to North America - Scott Francis and Ben Patrick (UK Amazon, US Amazon)
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