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home : columnists : columnists November 18, 2017


10/26/2017
The Creature of Horseshoe Bend and other tales (tails?)

By Paula Dunn
From Time to Thyme


I recently saw where Bigfoot was spotted again in California. As far as I know, Hamilton County can't claim any Bigfoot sightings, but over the years we've had our share of mysterious creatures wandering about.

The Jan. 3, 1924 Noblesville Daily Ledger told of a strange animal terrorizing northeastern Hamilton County and southeastern Tipton County with its weird cries.

That mystery was soon solved - more or less - when the beast was shot by a homeowner who caught it peering through his window.

The newspaper described the slain animal as being around three feet long with grayish-tan fur, big feet, a long curved tail and large, prominent teeth, and observed that it was clearly some member of the cat family, but "whether leopard, cheetah, panther or tiger no one can say."

Twenty-five years later, the Aug. 4, 1949 Ledger reported that a Riverwood couple had an encounter with another mysterious animal while on their way to Cicero one night.

When they first noticed the creature, it was walking erect by the side of the road, but as they drove closer, it dropped to all fours. According to the husband, it looked "like a big fur rug thrown over a wash tub - 'only bigger.'"

The following evening around dusk a Strawtown farmer spotted what may have been the same animal walking upright across a field. The farmer speculated that what he'd seen might have been a bear or a gorilla (a gorilla?) but admitted he hadn't been close enough for a positive identification. (He was, however, "as close to it as he wanted to be!")

Those sightings inspired several groups of Hamilton County hunters to try to find the strange beast, but apparently they were unsuccessful.

Two years later in 1951, more hunters showed up - from all over the state this time - to attempt to track down a huge black animal seen near Stony Creek, about a mile south of Noblesville.

Those hunters dreamed of bagging a black panther, but State Police thought their quarry was probably just a big dog since no farm animals had been reported killed and the prints the creature left behind showed claws.

That brings us to the legendary "Creature of Horseshoe Bend," a mysterious beast whose unnerving cries haunted the area around White River between 160th Street and Conner Prairie for years.

When a large, cat-like animal was shot east of Carmel in 1965, some thought that might have been the end of the Creature. The animal was said to resemble a kind of bobcat that had once been common all over the state, but was believed to inhabit only isolated areas of southern Indiana at that time.

According to a story in the January 1977 Hamiltonian magazine, however, the Creature either lived on, or had buddies hanging around. The article noted that a five-inch wide, clawless paw print was found by the son of a Conner Prairie worker in 1974.

Moreover, in 1975 one of the museum's security guards was investigating a strange noise he thought was either a woman in trouble or kids playing pranks among the historical buildings when he ran into a tawny-colored animal with a long, white-tipped tail. The guard said it looked like a cougar and he estimated its weight at 85 to 100 pounds!

And the following year, a couple who lived near Horseshoe Bend also found strange tracks, and said their cattle had been spooked by cries "like a woman in hysterics."

So, what exactly was (IS?) the Creature of Horseshoe Bend? A bobcat? A cougar? A big dog?

Or could it be . . . . (cue the creepy Boris Karloff voice) something else?

Happy Halloween!

Paula Dunn's From Time to Thyme column appears each Friday in The Times. Contact her at younggardenerfriend@gmail.com







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