Top 10 Most Mysterious Creatures in Illinois

At Mysterious Heartland, we are familiar with the haunted and legendary places of Illinois, but did you know this state was also home to a wide variety of mysterious creatures? From the Lake Michigan Monster, to thunderbirds, to hairy bipeds, and the Enfield Horror, which one will prove to be the most unusual and terrifying of them all?

10. The Gooseville Bear

Bethalto, Illinois

The Gooseville Bear was a creature known only by what it left behind. For nearly three decades, from about 1940 to the late 1960s, residents of the Gooseville area near Bethalto, Illinois discovered large animal tracks along Indian Creek. The tracks resembled those of a bear, although no bears are known to live in the area. No witnesses ever came forward claiming to have seen the beast, and after many years, the Gooseville Bear vanished as mysteriously as it had appeared.

9. Black Panthers


Panther is the popular name given to the North American Cougar, which was once prevalent all over the continent, but was hunted virtually to extinction in the eastern half of the United States. Recently, it has made a comeback into its old habitat. In 2008, a cougar was shot and killed near the Chicago River in the Chicago neighborhood of Roscoe Village. Most mysterious of all, however, are sightings of black panthers. It is a genetic anomaly for a wild cat to be jet black in color, and no black cougars have ever been captured or photographed (most “black panthers” are actually jaguars or leopards). Never-the-less, several have been spotted in Illinois. In 2001, a black panther was seen on three separate occasions in Monroe County and as recently as 2007, a black panther was seen around Bloomington. Are these mysterious animals myth or real? Until one is captured or photographed in the wild, we will never know for sure.

8. Giant Snake

Champaign County

On June 6, 1896, a farmer named Carl Smithson discovered a giant snake (about 18 feet in length) in his barn. It was in the process of swallowing the leg of his Jersey calf. Evidently the snake, which had been spotted by several other farmers, fled before Smithson could return with help. A posse was formed to search for the creature, but it is unknown whether they succeeded.

7. Stump Pond Serpent

Pyramid State Park, Perry County

Between 1879 and 1968, nearly a 90-year period, fishermen in Perry County spun yarns about a serpent that dwelled in the murky waters of Stump Pond. The creature was described as having a thick, green body with black fins. It was large enough to rock boats. Some fishermen encountered it more than once, and speculated that there must be a breeding population. When the lake was partially drained in 1968, locals discovered catfish that weighed over 30 pounds, so it is possible that the “Stump Pond Serpent” was a giant catfish. In 2005 Tim Pruitt of Alton caught a 124 pound blue catfish in the Mississippi River. Today, Stump Pond is a part of Pyramid State Recreation Area, which consists of land formerly owned by a coal strip-mining company.

6. Farmer City Monster

Farmer City, Illinois

With its hulking shape and bright yellow eyes, the Farmer City Monster was one of the oddest creatures to lumber across Illinois during the summer of 1970. This beast was more credible than most, since eyewitnesses included the Farmer City police officer tasked with tracking it down. Sightings began in early July, when three teens encountered it at their campsite in a field near Salt Creek, and spread to Bloomington, Heyworth, and Waynesville. Everyone who saw it noted its glowing eyes, but it was not an aggressive creature. At each encounter, the Farmer City Monster fled as soon as it had been spotted. It was last seen on August 16, 1970, when it ran across the road in front of a truck near Waynesville.

Check out these stories and more in Michael Kleen’s
Haunting Illinois: A Tourist’s Guide to the Weird and Wild Places of the Prairie State!

5. Thunderbirds


It is difficult to believe that a species of giant birds could be living in the wilds of Illinois, but numerous eyewitnesses have attested to just such a creature. At least one eyewitness, a man named Texas John Huffer, filmed a group of the birds at Lake Shelbyville in 1977. He estimated that they possessed wingspans of at least 12 feet—much larger than the California Condor, the largest bird in North America. In 1948, locals around Alton, Illinois reported seeing a bird that was “bigger than an airplane.” On July 25, 1977, two such birds attacked a group of children in Lawndale, Illinois. One of the children, Marlon Lowe, was carried about 35 feet before being dropped when his mother scared the birds away.

4. Cole Hollow Road Monster

Creve Coeur, Illinois

During the 1970s, the Illinois River Valley was abuzz with sightings of the Cole Hollow Road Monster, or Cohomo, for short. It was first sighted along Cole Hollow Road, just outside of Creve Coeur, south of Peoria. It was described as a three-toed beast, eight to ten feet tall, with a coat of thick white fur. There were so many sightings in the summer of 1972 that the Tazewell County Sheriff’s Department organized a search party to hunt for the creature. Encounters with Cohomo tapered off after that, but one man believed he caught a glimpse of it in the headlights of his car one night in July 2000, further north up the Illinois River near Essex, Illinois.

3. Murphysboro Mud Monster

Murphysboro, Illinois

The wilds of Southern Illinois have long produced tales of strange creatures, and the Mud Monster (or “Big Muddy”) is no exception. This hairy, smelly biped was seen several times in the summer of 1973 lurking near Murphysboro along the banks of the Big Muddy River. Like Peoria’s Cole Hollow Road Monster, the Murphysboro creature was described as being seven feet tall and covered in matted, white fur. Police officers found several tracks at the scene of the first sighting, and even heard its “inhuman” cry. The next night, a young boy and two of his neighbors saw the creature when it wandered through their backyards. After a few weeks of intense scrutiny, the Murphysboro Mud Monster disappeared as mysteriously as it arrived.

2. Lake Michigan Monster

Lake Michigan

Between 1867 and 1890, newspapers reported numerous encounters with a sea serpent just off shore in Lake Michigan. Sightings ranged from Evanston down to Hyde Park, and the creature was described as bluish black with a grayish white underbelly, long neck, head about the same size as a human’s, with visible scales. It was between 40 and 50 feet in length. On several occasions, it was heard bellowing “like a bull.” In 1867, a fisherman named Joseph Muhlke encountered the Lake Michigan Monster a mile and a half from shore near Chicago’s south side. He was able to provide a very detailed description and claimed that its head came within 20 feet of his boat.

1. The Enfield Horror

Enfield, Illinois

In the spring of 1973, a bizarre and deformed creature terrorized the community of Enfield. Eyewitnesses described it as short, with small arms like a T-Rex, broad, pink eyes, grayish skin, and three legs. On April 25, 1973, it attacked a young boy who was playing in his yard, then attempted to break into a nearby home. The homeowner shot the monster, and it fled. Rick Rainbow, an Indiana resident and news director for WWKI Radio, managed to record its cries. One common element in all the sightings was that they occurred near railroad tracks. By June, sightings stopped, and this creature vanished without a trace.


Haunting Illinois by Michael KleenCheck out these places and more in Michael Kleen’s Haunting Illinois: A Tourist’s Guide to the Weird and Wild Places of the Prairie State! Three years in the making, the 3rd edition of Hunting Illinois is your ticket to adventure in your own backyard. This edition contains 60 new listings and 35 new pictures, for a total of 260 haunted or mysterious locations and more than 120 photos and illustrations. Divided into eight distinct regions and listed by county and town or neighborhood, each location features a description, directions, and sources from a wide variety of books, articles, and websites. Haunting Illinois challenges you to get off the couch and start exploring our wonderful State of Illinois. Go here to order!

Sorry guys, this page is copyright Black Oak Media, 2011. You do not have permission to copy this for any reason. Please learn how to cite your work.



  1. My favorite is the Enfield whore, that Ricky Rainbow dated….. 🙂


  2. Thanks for putting up this article.


  3. This is very fascinating! Especially the one about the black panthers. Speaking of, I have an interesting story. When I was 8 or 9 years old, which would be about 2002 or 2003, I lived in Southern Illinois in a small town called Tilden ( which is about an hour or so from Belleville Illinois and about 2 hours from St. Louis). One night my family and I headed to Sparta ( 15 minutes South) for dinner. It was dusk when we took off down the back roads toward Sparta. We went over this little bridge and about that time I felt the urge to look back. Sure enough, about 12 or so feet behind us was this huge black cat with these intense green eyes coming out of the woods on my left and crossing the road. I wanted to tell my parents what I had saw but didn’t for two reasons; 1.)- I felt it was best to leave the majestic thing alone for it’s sake as well as ours., and 2.)- It was so dark that in no time we were so far away that I could no longer see it.
    Most people i’ve told this to think I was seeing things or that I’m crazy, but I know what I saw!


    • I believe you saw one. I grew up in Pinckneyville(home of the panthers) That name was not just chosen out of hat randomly.
      For Many years there were and continue to be sightings around pinckneyville of Panthers. I know of several areas around perry county where sightings of a light colored one and a Black one were reported to have happened. The area known as reenot bottoms is one of them.
      My uncle was a coon hunter from pinckneyville, He told me that on a couple of occasions, he had seen both of them.
      My uncle was a great man and not a story teller. If he said he seen them , you can bank your money on his word.
      I also lived with my mother in Franklin county.Between 1985-1986 there were several sightings in the areas between thompsonville and west frankfort. My Mother, myself and other people that lived around us saw it on several occasions.


  4. I live in west frankfort il and we live close to thompsonville in the country me and my friends were having a sleepover in her camper when we decided to play flashlight tag so wewere aboutan hourin when someone screamed so we all ran to her and we all saw a huge black cat that was easily bigger than my full grown husky. we were all freaked out so we went back into the camper and didnt come back out forthe rest of the night.


  5. Sir-bobby says:

    About the black panters my grandparents live in the Shawnee hills in southern Illinois. One fall evening my grandmother was cleaning dishes. Then when she looked out of her window she saw a large Dow run across her back lawn ( her back lawn leads into a forest ) then she sees a black cat like object dart towards the Dow. She doesn’t see the Dow or black object agian. Then my grandmothers friend owns goats. About after a week of getting a new baby goat she try’s to find the goat at about 10:00 pm. She goes and out in flip flops and she can’t find the goat. She notes its sprinkling out so she stands under a tree. She still can’t find the goat so she goes inside. Then in the morning she goes out side to find him she sees a dead goat in the tree she was standing under. This is a true store.



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