The state of Illinois is known for the city of Chicago, corrupt politics, and some of the best pizza in the United States. It was the home of four presidents, Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, Ronald Reagan, and Barack Obama, although Reagan was the only president to be born and raised there. It’s the fifth most populous state in the Union, and the 25th largest. And, with 4.4 million acres of forestland, there’s plenty of room to hide hairy, lurking monsters.
The Enfield Monster
Henry McDaniel heard scratching on his front door around 9:30 p.m. 25 April 1973. When he looked out his window saw something on the front porch that would terrorize the small community of Enfield for years. "It had three legs on it, a short body, two little short arms, and two pink eyes as big as flashlights. It stood four and a half feet tall and was greyish-coloured,” he told the local press.
McDaniel shot at the creature, hitting it once. The monster hissed at McDaniel, “like a wildcat," then jumped like a kangaroo and moved 50 feet in three hops. When the local police arrived at the McDaniel house, they discovered dog-like footprints with six toes.
McDaniel said he saw the monster again on 6 May at 3 a.m. “I saw something moving out on the railroad track and there it stood. I didn't shoot at it or anything. It started on down the railroad track. It wasn't in a hurry or anything," he told local radio station WWKI. The station’s news director wandered the area around McDaniel’s house and claimed to see a creature that looked like an ape.
An extensive search failed to turn up the monster. "If they do find it, they will find more than one and they won't be from this planet, I can tell you that,” McDaniel told the local press. Speculation as to the monster’s identity ranged from that of an escaped kangaroo to an escaped ape to an extra-terrestrial.
Farm City Monster
Four Farm City teens camping on private land sat around their campfire the night of 9 July 1970 when they heard something big moving in the grass at the edge of the firelight. One of the boys hopped in their car and switched on the headlights to reveal a manlike beast covered in long, grey-white fur. When the lights struck it, the creature ran off, according to an article in the Bloomington Pantagraph. The boys said the monster was at least six feet tall.
That wasn’t the last of the monster. A few days later two dozen people claimed to see “a pair of eyes glowing at them in the dark,” according to the Pantagraph. The Sunday after that three more people saw the hairy creature, and even more people witnessed it by the next Tuesday. “I didn't think it was as tall as they said it was," witness Bob Tharp told the newspaper. "It looked to be maybe three or four feet high."
Although numerous people saw the Farm City Monster, the only casualty assigned to the beast was the heavy canvas tent at the boys’ campsite that something with claws had torn to shreds.
Cole Hollow Road Monster
The 1970s was a big decade for monsters in Illinois. In 1972, a creature the locals around Cole Hollow Road called Cohomo (short for Cole Hollow Monster) was seen numerous times south of Peoria. The monster was eight feet tall, covered in white fur, and had only three toes.
The monster encounters began after a family picnicking at Fondulac Park in East Peoria claimed to see unidentified lights sink behind trees, followed by a trail of smoke. That night more than 200 calls to the East Peoria Police Department reported the monster, which smelled like sulphur.
Although 21 years later a local man claimed he’d fabricated the story as a prank, that doesn’t account for continued monster sightings, including similar descriptions of beast labelled the Murphysboro Mud Monster and Bull Valley Monster.
Tuttle Bottoms Monster
In 1963, in the swampy land north of Harrisburg, a young man with a rifle stopped Saline County Sheriff James L. Thompson and told him he was hunting a monster. The creature was at least eight feet long, as tall as pony, and had a nose like an anteater, according to The Harrisburg Daily Register.
More than 50 people have reported seeing the creature since 1963, but the Tuttle Bottoms Monster remains a mystery.
Next up: Indiana.