Meet the Monsters: The Crosswick Monster

Crosswick, 1882—The Crosswick Monster is known from a single but extremely dramatic story from 1882,  and it  takes its name from the small town it was said to appear in, near Waynesville, on the banks of the Miami River in Warren County.

A pair of boys, aged 11 and 13, were fishing by a small creek when they saw the monster rushing at them. It grabbed the 13-year-old in its arms, and ran with him to a large sycamore tree, where it crawled into a hole. The boys’ screams alerted some men working nearby, and soon a small army of 60 was raised to attack the tree with axes. As they worked, the monster emerged, dropped its prey and ran “like a racehorse” across the creek, up a small hill, over a fence and a mile or so north, where it reached a hole in a large hill under a heavy ledge of rocks.

What’s particularly fascinating about the monster is its description. It was described as having various reptilian characteristics, and was said to be 30-40 feet long, but it is never once referred to as a dinosaur of any kind, but instead as a snake with arms and legs.

The word “dinosaur” was itself still a relatively new term back then—it was coined in 1841 by Sir Richard Owen—and yet that really seems to be what is being described throughout, with some of the details surprisingly up-to-date in the way we now think dinosaurs behaved,  like it’s great speed and the fact that “it’s propelling power was in its tail”, suggesting that it balanced itself with its tail, rather than  dragging it behind itself, as was the prevailing view of how dinosaurs moved in the late 19th-century.

The tale of the Crosswick Monster comes to us from a 1968 Warren Historical Society pamphlet by Hazel Warren Phillips. It was one of several stories of dinosaur-like monsters surviving well past the time any dinosaurs should be expected to be found in Ohio.

Illustration by Janie Walland