This 100-year-old Arkansas legend has a government protected sanctuary

Folks in Arkansas say there’s a huge monster lurking in the waters of the White River. The aptly named White River Monster (or “Whitey,” if you’re a local) was first spotted in the northeastern part of the state in 1915.

So what is it? Well, that depends on who you ask. Some say it’s a big fish with teeth. Other folks say it looks kind of like an elephant seal. But something everyone can agree on? It’s big.

Arkansas Backstories: White River Monster

Whitey was first spotted in July of 1915. That’s when a plantation owner caught sight of it and said it was as wide as a car (or two, depending on which legend you follow) and as long as three. 

But the sightings get a little fuzzy until 1937. Then, some fishermen were having trouble catching fish and saw the creature. They reported it to a nearby plantation owner, Bramlett Bateman, who said he saw it too and that it had “the skin of an elephant, four or five feet wide by twelve feet long, with the face of a catfish.” Bateman got nervous about his crops and he wanted to blow use TNT in the area of the Whitey sighting, but he was ultimately not allowed.

Folks started coming from all over to try to catch (or catch a glimpse of) the monster, but when their plan to catch it failed, some thought it was all a hoax.

Fast forward to 1971, it was sighted again. This time with tracks on an island leading to the river. One of the accounts said “it looked as if the thing was peeling all over, but it was a smooth type of skin or flesh.”

After those reports, state Senator Robert Harvey signed a bill into law that created the White River Monster Refuge. It’s an area along the river between two areas called Grand Glaize and Rosie.

And, just in case anyone was getting any ideas, it’s illegal to kill the monster inside the refuge. So don’t do that.