Urban Legends of Ohio: The Crosswick Monster
Crosswick, Ohio is a sleepy little community located just outside of Waynesville. Despite its relatively unassuming appearance, the town has a terrifying secret; just sixty years after it was originally settled, two boys were almost fatally attacked by some sort of snake-monster. The only record of the incident seems to be a May 1882 Western Star article, archived by the Warren County Historical Society.
In May of 1882, two boys, Ed and Joe, were fishing in a small creek. After a short while, they began to hear some rustling in the nearby brush. When they turned around, the boys saw a huge monster, almost like a snake. The monster charged them, and they screamed and attempted to flee. The snake came closer to Ed, and “suddenly [threw] out two large arms” and grabbed him. Simultaneously, it produced two more back legs from “some mysterious hiding place” on its body, and dragged Ed to a large, hollow sycamore tree around a hundred yards down the creek. The monster attempted to crawl inside with Ed still caught in its claws.
Hearing the boys’ screams, three men working in the quarry above the creek ran to investigate, and witnessed Ed being dragged off. They chased after them, and caught up as the monster attempted to enter the tree. Frightened by their shouts, the snake released the boy and scrambled into the opening. Ed, who was carried home, was projected to recover in a few days, but suffered from “convulsions” and fits of “fright and terror.”
Later that day, 60 men with an assortment of pitchforks, axes, sticks, and similar weapons gathered around the sycamore, ready to fell both it and the monster within. As they began to chop, the beast suddenly “leaped from the aperture” and ran. However, it did not just run; it ran upright, as though it were a person. Said to be 30 to 40 feet long, 12 to 14 feet in height, and as fast as a racehorse, the monster raced up the creek, crashing through a rail fence along the way, before slipping into a burrow in a large hill.
The theories surrounding the monster are small but interesting, with some even linking it to Michigan’s Milton Lizard. The general consensus seems to be that it's more lizard than snake.
The main evidence, however, is the drawing paired with the Western Star article. It's
extremely reminiscent of a monitor lizard. However those generally are not in Ohio, much less during the Victorian era. The bipedal nature brings to mind something like basilisk lizards, though those are nowhere near the described 40 feet long. Its described yellow spots and black tongue are akin to Gila monsters, though those face the same geography issue as monitor lizards. Different features of different lizards seem to be smashed into one scaly, cryptid-shaped ball, making it hard to find a possible explanation.
Zoologically improbable and terrifying to small children, the Crosswick Monster has not been sighted since its first eventful appearance, and has seemingly been lost to the murk of both the creek and our minds. Considering that monitor lizards live to only twenty years in captivity, it's likely we won't be seeing it anytime soon; though, if its nature is as esoteric as it seems, that very well may not be the case.