MURPHYSBORO -- It's close to midnight and you smell a stench like river slime and sewer. Then you see something lurking in the moonlight. You haven’t walked into Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video, but you may have seen the Big Muddy Monster.
A creature was sighted around midnight June 26, 1973, by a couple in a car parked near the boat launch area just east of Riverside Park. They described the creature as 7 feet tall, covered with light shaggy hair and mud with a stench of river slime or sewage. Police investigated and heard high pitched screams around 3 a.m. June 26.
The next night, a creature of almost an identical description was sighted by two teenagers in Westwood Hills Subdivision. Police brought in a dog that followed scent trails to a barn, but refused to enter the barn. They found more tracks and slime. The search party did not find the creature.
Sightings continued for more than 10 years. In February 1975, four truckers saw something similar near the junction of Illinois 3 and 149. The monster made another appearance in 1988 in a salvage yard in Ava to a couple of men, then was seen by several members of their families. It also appeared to a couple men gigging frogs in 1988. Other area residents have claimed to catch a glimpse of the “monster.”
These days the Big Muddy Monster is more of a legend, with no confirmed sightings since 1988. The Big Muddy Monster character can be seen riding in parades and helping promote activities in Murphysboro. He even has his own festival, The Big Muddy Monster Brewfest, from 1 to 4 p.m. Oct. 18 in Riverside Park. The event celebrates local craft beer.