Deep in Southern Illinois coal country, along the banks of the Big Muddy River, sits the peaceful town of Murphysboro. Known for its natural beauty, fishing spots, and local wineries, Murphysboro also boasts one particularly infamous resident: The Big Muddy Monster, an eight-foot tall, slime-covered sasquatch. The Big Muddy Monster, also known as the Murphysboro Mud Monster, frightened local residents in the early 1970s, putting Murphysboro firmly on the map for North American cryptid enthusiasts.
Murphysboro Mud Monster History
The Murphysboro Mud Monster was first seen around midnight on June 25th, 1973. Randy Needham and Judy Johnson, two Murphysboro residents, were sitting in a parked car near the Big Muddy River when they heard a loud shriek coming from the woods. The next thing they knew, a tall, pale creature with fur caked in mud lumbered towards their car. The two left the scene, but reported the incident to the local police.
This was but the first of many unexplained sightings in the weeks to come. The experience of teenagers Randy Creath and Cheryl Ray, recorded in a police report, is particularly interesting. While sitting on their front porch around 10:00 the night of June 26th, Creath and Ray saw the creature not fifteen feet away. They described it as eight feet tall and approximately 300-350 pounds, with pale white fur, and smelling “foul, like river slime”. Again, the creature quickly departed, but Creath and Ray also reported their experience to the police.
More sightings would be reported in the days to come, prompting the local police to launch a 14-person manhunt. Footprints were found at the scenes of the encounters, along with a mysterious black sludge. Although the search did not locate the creature, local law enforcement had no doubts that the residents did see something. A sighting at a traveling carnival ten days later was the last reported sighting of the Murphysboro Mud Monster for many years. Just as mysteriously as it had appeared, the creature was gone.
Murphysboro Mud Monster Today
The Murphysboro Mud Monster has stayed alive in the years since these sightings, at least in the imagination of town locals and monster hunters nationwide. Another possible sighting was reported in the late 80s. In 2021, a documentary called Creature from Big Muddy was released that explored the story. The creature is even featured prominently on a new mural in Murphysboro!
The Creature from Big Muddy Trailer
The story of the Murphysboro Mud Monster, like the best urban legends, has more questions than answers. What is the true identity of this tall, pale, smelly creature? Is it related to the similarly-described Sasquatch, seen by hundreds of Americans over the last century? Perhaps we will never know. What is unique about Big Muddy, however, is that its presence in Murphysboro was recorded by law enforcement at the time of the sightings, along with compelling evidence. This lends believability to the existence of the Murphysboro Mud Monster. As Sasquatch expert Harlan Sorkin stated at the time of the initial sightings, “The gorilla as we know it today was [unknown to many] until the early 1800’s. Can you imagine what people thought when they first saw it?”
Joseph Green is a writer, filmmaker, and lifelong horror nut. When he isn’t watching horror movies or listening to heavy metal music, he is writing articles about them.