Coosa River Monster
The Coosa River is a tributary of the Alabama River in the states of Alabama and Georgia USA. The river is about 280 miles (450 km) long and around 90% of the Coosa River's length is located in Alabama.The Muscogee (Creek) and Cherokee peoples, who lived along the Coosa River before they were driven west, told stories of seeing monstrous serpents and other creatures in the river.The stories became real in the 1800s when several people reported seeing something huge in the river.
The first official report was a letter in 1816. The letter stated that a number of Saint Clair County settlers near Ten Islands had killed a sea monster that appeared ill and found half on the shore and half in the water. When they open up the creature it had recently eaten a human ,his canoe, a deer, a bow with arrows and a rifle. The beast itself was not described in any detail.That wasn’t the end of the story and sightings of another creature were reported in 1817 and 1818.Then the monster appeared again when a Mrs. Martin, who lived near Foster, told of how terrified she was in 1862 when she saw what looked like a monster in the river. In the same year, Judge Lemuel Standifer was out in a rowboat near Rome, when suddenly there was a noise sounding like rolling thunder behind him. When he turned, Standifer saw what he thought was a serpentine head about 40 yards away, slowly sinking beneath the water’s surface.
Then in June 1877, a local newspaper reported that Mr. M. L. Foster of Etowah County, a respected citizen, had seen a “Sea Monster of the Coosa” in the vicinity of Ball Play Creek. Foster was setting out bank hooks for fishing near the mouth of the creek when his attention was diverted to what looked like a man, standing in a slow drifting boat alongside the opposite bank. Foster decided to cross the river to greet the man .Then to Fosters amazement,as he got even closer to the figure he found that he was looking at some sort of monster.This was the report in the local newspaper:
...As he approached sufficiently near to see it distinctly, to his horror it proved to be a living monster or serpent, with head and neck erect, extending out of the water some three or four feet, its head resembling a horses head, large glaring eyes, and a mouth distended, showing a tongue of fiery red. The monster or serpent exhibited no signs of fear, but glared directly at him as it passed, and unprepared as he was, he thought discretion the better part of valor, and beat a hasty retreat to the opposite bank from which he watched it moving along like a man in a boat, showing now and then portions of its back until it reached a point opposite Thornton’s log yard, where it gave a plunge and disappeared from sight. Mr. Foster is an entirely trustworthy and reliable gentleman, well known in his community, and intelligent, and his statements may be relied upon. That he saw some monster there is no doubt in his own mind, but the improbability of the story has caused him to be very reticent about any statement he made on the subject.
A Captain J.M. Elliott reported seeing a mysterious leviathan drifting along the river near Rome the same year 1877. Green Rasbury told of seeing a strange black creature near the mouth of Wills Creek, where the creature splashed from one bank of the Coosa to the other. John Burgess reported that he spotted a similar creature in the same locality.Each person reported it was large, 15 to 20 feet long ,serpent-like, covered with scales and with large fins.On June 25, a party of raftsmen saw the creature when it appeared two miles below Gadsden., Alabama. It approached the raft and the men threw sticks at it to scare it away. The men said it had a white belly and large knots on its back. A young man on the raft became so frightened that it became necessary to hold him to keep him aboard.Local newspapers admonished parents to keep their children away from the Coosa that year.Then the reports stopped and the monster seems to have disappeared.
In June 1882 ,a news reporter who had spent an afternoon in a rowboat on the Coosa, said he saw before his eyes a huge black mass, resembling a monster, rising slowly from the depths. He discovered on getting closer that the sea monster was only “a great mass of leaves and weeds” evidently thrown up from the bottom of the river by the accumulation of gases beneath the mass. He claimed it was the explanation for the monster. However the mass could not move under its own violation as the creature had been reported as seen to do.
There have been reports when the Neely-Henry Dam was under construction at Ohatchee, divers surfaced with stories about giant catfish as large as a man swimming on the bottom of the Coosa River. Riverboat captains reported seeing giant fish in the Coosa River in Etowah County. Could the monster have simply been a giant fish? In 2015 Aaron Churchwell, of Rome, landed a record-setting flathead catfish that weighed 46-lbs., 6.4-ozs. on Sept. 16th fishing on the Coosa River. So Giant fish are not unknown. The description given by all those who reported the monster sounds more like a snake than a fish. It remains a mystery.