Thursday, 19 November 2009

The Gowrow - alligator or dragon?

Was there a dragon living in Arkansas?

The Gowrow, is said to be a 20-ft long lizard-type monster with tusks, living along rocky ledges and in caves in the Ozarks The Ozark Native American Mythology, described it as a huge, dragon-like monster with tusks. In the 1880s, the gowrow was blamed for the terrorizing rural areas. Fred Allsopp, who edited the Arkansas Gazette was said to have published many stories about it.

In 1897, William Miller supposedly killed a gowrow, but no body was reported to have been found. One story said that when he killed the Gowrow the carcass was lost in shipment to the Smithsonian Institute.

There are a couple of versions of what happened around 1935 when the Gowrow was said to be inhabiting a deep cave in Boone County.:

Sometime prior to 1935, near the village of Self in Boone County, a gowrow allegedly inhabited the Devil's Hole, a deep cave who's mouth opened on the estate of E.J. Rhodes. One day, after hearing a commotion emanating from the Devil’s Hole's underground recesses, Rhodes decided to investigate by lowering himself into its shaft and descending via rope to a ledge 200 feet beneath the opening. Below this point the shaft was too narrow to permit further descent, so Rhodes failed to satisfy his curiosity - which was probably just as well. When some men lowered a flatiron down to the same level that Rhodes had reached, a loud angry hissing noise was plainly heard. They heard it again when they repeated the procedure, this time using a large stone attached to the rope. Moreover, when they drew the rope back up they discovered that the stone was gone. The section of the rope holding it had been completely bitten through!

From Dr Karl P.N. Shuker's book "From Flying Toads to Snakes With Wings" pages 87-88.

There are limestone caves in the area, possibly linked to the Mystic Cave system. Yet an intriguing incident took place during the Nineteenth Century at Devil's Hole Cave, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) southwest of Yellville. "Deciding to find out what was causing all the commotion down in the cave. E.J. Rhodes, owner of the land containing its (the cave's) mouth, descended by rope to a ledge 200 feet below ground. The shaft was too tight to penetrate farther." "Later, several men probed the cave with a long rope. They tired a flatiron on it and let it down into the hole. At 200 feet, the iron struck something--evidently the ledge discovered earlier by Rhodes. A vicious hissing rose out of the hole, as if from some large, angry animal." "The men pulled up the rope and found that the handle of the iron had been bent, and was even thought by some to show teeth marks. A large stone was then lowered with the rope. Again the angry sibilance, and when the rope was drawn up, the stone was gone, and the rope was neatly bitten off." "Local people call the Devil's Hole Cave entity the Gowrow and believe it to be a gigantic, man-eating lizard. Stories of it have circulated since the turn of the century," i,e, 1900.

From : Weird America by Jim Brandon, E.P. Dutton Books, New York, N.Y. 1978, page 15)

A Mr V. Randolf, was said to have seen the Gowrow in the Ozark Mountains in 1951.I could find nothing more about this sighting though.

So was the Gowrow a dragon or as many people believe an alligator? I don’t know if alligator s lived in the area at one time but it may have escaped from a travelling circus or zoo. It must have lived for quite a long time though from the 1800’s to 1935. An intriguing question , if it was an alligator, how did it get there and if it wasn’t what did bite through the rope?

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