There's no doubt that every American state has its own monsters. For example, Florida has the Skunk Ape. West Virginia has Mothman. Jersey has the Jersey Devil (of course!). And, well, the list goes on and on. Today, I'm focusing on the strange creatures and creepy monsters of Indiana - a state that is filled with beasts that range from bizarre to sinister and from dangerous to horrific. How do I know that? Well, I'll tell you. David Weatherly has a new book out right now. Its title: Monsters at the Crossroads: Cryptids & Legends of Indiana. This is an excellent book running to 250 pages and packed with great artwork and photos. So, what do you get from the book? First and foremost there is the Foreword from Chad Lewis, who makes a good observation: "Davis is essentially a modern-day reveres Robert Ripley. In his day, Ripley traveled to the far corners of the earth, bringing back countless bizarre and unique oddities to display in his Believe It or Not Odditoriums - where people who were too busy farming to travel great distances, and those without the means to travel could be spellbound by the mysterious."
Now, onto the creatures of Indiana. The book is split into various groups, including mysterious, huge winged monsters; "phantom panthers;" Bigfoot; werewolves; out of place kangaroos; giant snakes and lake-monsters. That's right: an absolute menagerie of "things"! I'll begin with one of my favorite topics: werewolves. I won't give away the themes of the stories, but I will say this section of the book takes us down intriguing avenues that tie in with the likes of feral people and wild folk. I had never heard of what is referred to in David's book as "The Wolf Man of Versailes," but it makes for absolutely absorbing reading. Now, let's move onto what are generally known as "Alien Big Cats," or "ABCs." Indiana has its very own mysterious, large and wild cats roaming around. Some people - as the stories in David's book demonstrate - suggest that, perhaps, the ABCs were escapees from zoos, etc. On the other hand, though, now and again a bit of the paranormal will sneak through.
Want to learn about the Indiana equivalent of Scotland's famous Loch Ness Monster? You've got it: welcome to the Lake Manitou Monster. Of this beast of the deep, David tells us that during the construction of a mill in the vicinity in 1827, "...several men surveying the lake spotted the creature. They claimed it was dark in color and over thirty feet in length with a long neck and a head like a horse." Interestingly, the "horse"-like description mirrors a number of similar creatures seen in Ireland in decades long gone. Huge fish, a "clawed" beast, and a massive turtle are just the start of matters concerning water-based monsters. Then, there are giant snakes. And by "giant," I really mean that. How about such a creature around 34-feet in length? That's what was found in 1879 in Indiana. What about a fully-grown cow that came off very badly - in fact, fatally - against such a monster-snake? This chapter is particularly fascinating for its impressive numbers of gigantic snakes in the heart of Indiana.
The data in Monsters at the Crossroads on Bigfoot and mysterious apes is important - primarily because we get to learn of a number of early cases, such as the "Boonville Monster," a creature described as a "huge ape." Notably, this report came from the 1930s - demonstrating that such things were roaming around long before the term "Bigfoot" was created in the late 1950s. Moving on: for some reason, stories of out-of-place kangaroos are curiously prevalent in many places. They surface all out of the place. Thanks to David, I now know they are in Indiana, too! Just like the "Alien Big Cats," there are down-to-earth reasons as to why they might be around. But, why does it almost always seem to be the same types of animals over and over again? And, finally, I'll say this book will not just fascinate and intrigue those with a passion for Cryptozoology. People who are interested in the paranormal will get a lot from it, too. I say that because in some cases there appear to be notable crossovers between the two. A great book to dig into on a cold, dark Christmas night with a glass of something potent and warming. And those nights are coming very soon. Get a copy and indulge![/caption]