Big Muddy Monster embraced by Southern Illinois community

The legend of the Big Muddy Monster began 50 years ago and locals are now embracing its heritage in the southern Illinois community of Murphysboro. Residents reported multiple sightings of a large ‘big foot’ type creature near the Big Muddy River, and there are several police reports documenting what people observed from back in June 1973. The story became national news, with a report in the New York Times and letters pouring into the police department from interested children and adults all across the world. The case files also include artist sketches of the monster and descriptions from eyewitnesses.

Sightings of the creature, which was described as over seven feet tall and over 300 pounds, would continue over the years. People reported the creature as having a foul smell, glowing red eyes and yellow teeth. Police even used search dogs to track the creature, but it continued to be elusive.

The story of the Big Muddy Monster has been the subject of a book, ‘The Big Muddy Monster: Legends, Sightings and Other Strange Encounters,’ and also a one hour documentary film, ‘Creature from Big Muddy: An Illinois Bigfoot Legend’ was released in July 2021.

A large mural in Murphysboro includes images of apples, rivers, the nearby Shawnee National Forest and the large hairy bigfoot creature. In June 2023, the town held its first annual Big Muddy Monster Festival, which featured events and giveaways, guest speakers, local sighting tours, historical documents, kids activities, food, a 5K run, a screening of the documentary film and more.

In addition, a huge 8-foot, 8-inch statue weighing nearly 800 pounds of the Big Muddy Monster was unveiled on the day of the festival. Local leaders are hoping to make the festival an annual event. There is no doubt that the legend of the Big Muddy Monster will live on in Murphysboro and the surrounding southern Illinois area, and with its own festival and statue the story of the Big Muddy Monster will attract tourists for decades to come.

“The legend of the Big Muddy Monster rolls on,” stated Rep. Paul Jacobs (R-Pomona). “This creature is part of our history in southern Illinois and by embracing it we also attract tourism and bring increased economic dollars to our region.”

“How unique is it for a community and region to embrace this Big Muddy Monster 50 years later,” added Rep. David Friess (R-Red Bud). “These legendary stories bring our community together and also attract tourists into our region to learn and be part of history.