5 Wisco Monsters to Look Out for This October

Tom Giffey

Above: That dang Hodag.
Above: That dang Hodag.

1. The Beast of Bray Road

One of Wisconsin’s most famous cryptids (i.e., creatures whose existence is unproven) is a two-legged dog-like beast that’s been spotted around Bray Road in rural Elkhorn. Sightings peaked in the 1980s and ’90s, but date as far back as 1936. The stinky, werewolf-like creature is said to feed on roadkill, and has frightened more than one late-night driver. The beast has inspired books and even a low-budget horror film.

2. The Hodag

When compared with other legendary beasts, the modern incarnation of the Hodag is downright friendly: You’ll find a toothy Hodag greeting visitors at the Rhinelander Area Chamber of Commerce, and it serves as a mascot for the high school, too. When first described in 1893, however, the Hodag was a northwoods monster with “the head of a frog, the grinning face of a giant elephant, thick short legs set off by huge claws, the back of a dinosaur, and a long tail with spears at the end.” According to legend, hunters killed the first hodag with dynamite, but a second specimen was exhibited to curious onlookers at the Oneida County Fair in 1896.

3. Pepie

Just as Scotland’s Loch Ness has Nessie, Wisconsin’s Lake Pepin has Pepie. Native Americans, early European explorers, and even contemporary lake-watchers have described a strange monster in the lake, though descriptions have varied widely, from eel-like to the size of an elephant! A decade ago, a lakeside business owner offered $50,000 for proof of Pepie’s existence, but the money remains unclaimed.

4. Haunchies

One of the weirdest Wisconsin legends is the tale of Haunchyville, a colony of little people near Muskego in the southeastern corer of the state. Haunchyville residents – a.k.a. Haunchies – aren’t friendly little folk like the musical Munchkins of Oz. Instead, Haunchies are viciously protective of their community, and will cut visitors’ legs off at the knees. Naturally, this means local teens have been known to trespass on private property in their hunt for Haunchies.

5. Phantom Chickens

Seymour, a small city near Appleton, claims to be the birthplace of the hamburger. Local lore says it’s also home to something far more sinister: a rural road haunted by phantom chickens! According to paranormal researcher Chad Lewis, drivers on Chicken Alley (yes, that’s its real name) claim to have run over chickens only to have the feathered fiends vanish. Why did the phantom chicken cross the road? We suspect fowl play.