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Exploring American Monsters: Georgia

Georgia, named after King George II of England, is one of the original thirteen colonies. It was the birthplace of civil rights leader Dr Martin Luther King, Jr., singer Ray Charles, “Gone with the Wind” author Margaret Mitchell, and wrestler Hulk Hogan. Yes, THE Hulk Hogan. Of the 37 million acres of land in Georgia, 24.8 million acres of that is forestland. The Peach State is the fourth largest state east of the Mississippi River, and is home to mountains, rivers, and monsters.

The Altamaha-ha, so popular its used in tourism publications.

The Altamaha-ha, so popular its used in tourism publications.

Altamaha-ha 

The Altamaha River stretches 137 miles through the centre of the state until it empties into the Atlantic Ocean near Brunswick, Georgia. It pours the third largest amount of fresh water into the Atlantic from the United States. It’s also home to a beast known as the Altamaha-ha.

Looking like a cross between a sturgeon, crocodile, and seal, this thirty-foot-long monster is often seen near the city of Darien by fishermen, and swimmers (why would you swim in a river with a monster?). Darien was founded in 1736 by people who have their own stories of a water monster, Scotsmen from Inverness.

Although part of the local Indian legend, the Altamaha-ha gained national notice in 1981 when a newspaper publisher saw the beast while fishing. He reported it as two humps five feet apart that were moving as fast as a speedboat. After that, other stories of monster sightings began hitting the press, such as a 1970s tale of a twenty-foot-long creature with a head of a snake, and another of an underwater creature that caused boats to bob in its wake. But these sightings were not the first. Where the Altamaha River dumps into the ocean, a sea captain saw a seventy-foot-long creature, “its circumference about that of a sugar hogshead,” according to the 18 April 1830 Savannah Georgian newspaper. The creature held its alligator-like head eight feet out of water before it sank back into the depths.

Chris Griffin and his 800 pound monster.

Hogzilla

The legend started in 2004 when hunting guide Chris Griffin said he shot a wild hog in the Georgia woods. He claimed the beast was twelve feet long and more than 1000 pounds. He shot it, lifted the body with a backhoe, a buddy snapped a picture, and the Internet went wild.

“All sorts of thoughts were running through my head, and I was thinking, ‘I’m gonna take a shot at this animal,’” Griffin told ABC News.

Labelled a hoax by many, National Geographic enlisted a “pig geneticist, a wildlife ecologist, and a pig behaviour specialist” to test the animal. Hogzilla was real, although not 1000 pounds. The wild boar/domesticated pig hybrid weighed 800 pounds.

Hogzilla left the world, especially the small town of Alapaha, Georgia, where the beast was shot, with two things to consider:

  • Where did Hogzilla come from? National Geographic couldn’t figure out that one.
  • Are there more out there? Although not 1000 pounds, 800 is still awfully big for a dangerous monster roaming the nearby woods.
The beavershark. Uh, okay.

The beavershark. Uh, okay.

Beavershark

This three-foot-long creature is a local legend of Pine Mountain, Georgia. Sometimes reported to have the head of a beaver and the body of a shark, and other times to have the head of a shark and the body of a beaver, the beavershark swims in the lakes of Callaway Gardens, preferring deeper water where it feeds on fish and turtles, although it is occasionally seen near shore to take bites out of swimming children.

Used as a warning to youth at local summer camps, the beavershark makes most of its appearances in places where souvenirs are sold.

The Wog

The Wog

A boggy pond near Winder, Georgia, called the Nodoroc by the local Creek Indians, is a mud volcano that once seethed and bubbled, emitting smoke, giving the brown bog a hellish appearance. This was fitting seeing as Nodoroc is a Creek word that means “gateway to hell.” The Creek Indians of the 1800s had built a stone alter at the bog where they executed prisoners, and tossed the bodies into the bog to suffer there for eternity. Legends state the Nodoroc is inhabited by the Wog.

The Wog is a demon dog about the size of a small horse, with long black fur, and longer front legs than hind legs. According to “The Early History of Jackson County Georgia,” by historian G.J.N. Wilson in 1914, “This gave him something of the appearance of a huge dog sitting on its tail.” The monster had a long tail with a puff of white hair at the tip. The Wog, with its bear-like head, has blazing red eyes, and a forked tongue that sticks at least eight inches long from its tusked mouth.

Although the Wog lurked in the Nodoroc and swept the dead under the churning mud with its tail, in the 1800s European settlers reported seeing the creature slinking around cabins, and frightening domesticated animals to death.

I’d say it would.

Next up: Hawaii.

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Jason Offutt is paranormal investigator, an author of several paranormal books such as “What Lurks Beyond,” “Darkness Walks: Shadow People Among us,” “Haunted Missouri,” and “Paranormal Missouri” and a teacher of journalism at Northwest Missouri State University.
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