10 Indiana Cryptids: Appearance, Behavior, and Location

Written by Kellianne Matthews
Published: March 4, 2024
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With a rich history stretching back centuries before European colonization, Indiana is steeped in Native American folklore and cryptic urban legends. Incredible tales and strange reports throughout the state continue to capture our imagination today, from mythical creatures to unexplained encounters. Known as “cryptids”, these creatures have reportedly been seen, but concrete proof of their existence continues to elude us. Curious about what these legendary creatures look like and where you might encounter one? Let’s take a look at 10 Indiana cryptids, their reported haunting grounds, and what to keep an eye out for!

Meshekenabek or the Manitou Monster

Sea monster snake

Early settlers referred to Lake Manitou as “Devil’s Lake.”

©Dotted Yeti/Shutterstock.com

Lake Manitou was originally created in 1827 due to a treaty between the Potawatomi Native American tribe and the United States government. They constructed a new dam, which flooded the areas around five smaller lakes and combined them into Lake Manitou. While constructing the new dam, however, several workers reported seeing an unusual creature swimming in the lake’s waters.

Known as Meshekenabek or the Manitou Monster, the 60-foot-long serpentine creature is gray with yellowish markings and a head resembling that of a horse or a cow. Covering 775 acres, Lake Manitou certainly is large enough to hide such a legend. If you ever find yourself in Fulton County’s city of Rochester, perhaps you can go see for yourself!

Beast of Busco

Indiana cryptids - snapping turtle face

During periods of brumation (similar to hibernation), snapping turtles can stay underwater for six months!


One of the most famous Indiana cryptids is the Beast of Busco, which allegedly lives in a lake near Churubusco. Oscar Fulk, the farmer who owned the land in 1898, claimed to have seen a gargantuan snapping turtle in the lake’s waters. Later in 1948, Ora Blue and Charley Wilson were fishing on the lake when they also saw a monstrous turtle, which they reported had to be at least 500 pounds. The new landowner, Gale Harris, claims to have also witnessed the bizarre animal and attempted to capture it several times without success. At one point he even tried to drain the lake into a nearby area with a dam, but the dam broke before he could finish. 

Today, the legendary snapping turtle in Churubusco is known as the Beast of Busco or simply “Oscar”. It remains alive and well in local folklore, as seen in the city’s annual “Turtle Days” festival. 

The Wolf Man of Versailles

A family of grey wolves in the forest.

No one knows what ultimately became of Silas Shimmerhorn after he encountered a pack of wolves.

©AB Photographie/Shutterstock.com

During the American Civil War, a group of Confederates known as “Morgan’s Raiders” wreaked havoc in Indiana and Ohio. One of its members, Silas Shimmerhorn, broke off from the group and hid himself away in a cave near Versailles, IN. However, Shimmerhorn quickly discovered that the cave was already occupied by a pack of wolves. According to legend, he somehow struck a deal with the pack and the wolves allowed him to stay in the cave with them. 

Farmers in the area began to report sightings of the “Wolf Man of Versailles” and his wolf pack. They attempted to capture him and eventually found their way to the cave. Upon entering, however, all they found was a rifle engraved with “SS” lying near a straw bed.

The Green-Clawed Beast

High View of Bend in Ohio River with Blue Sky and Clouds

Enormous fish and snapping turtles living in the Ohio River could possibly be mistaken for cryptids.

©Corey B Stevens/Shutterstock.com

In 1955, Naomi Johnson was swimming near the shore of the Ohio River when something hairy grabbed her leg and yanked her beneath the water several times. Fortunately, a nearby friend helped her to shore, but her leg was scratched from the knee down and had a strange, greenish stain on it. According to the stories, a colonel of the U.S. Air Force paid Johnson a visit after her strange encounter. After sharing her story with the colonel, he told her to never speak of it again. 

Crawfordsville Monster

Killdeer flying

Killdeer typically live alone or in pairs, but they occasionally gather in loose flocks during migration.

©JoshCW Photo/Shutterstock.com

In 1891, a few ice delivery men were headed out on their daily rounds when they saw a “horrible apparition” flying above them. Their report was included in the Crawfordsville Daily Journal on September 5, 1891, describing the creature as 18 feet long and 18 feet wide. The delivery men said it was “pure white and had no definite shape or form” and that it “frequently gave a great squirm as though suffering unutterable agony”.  

Two additional witnesses tracked the specter and reported that it was actually a flock of several hundred killdeer. While this explanation certainly seems much more plausible, many of Indiana’s residents still share stories of the Crawfordsville cryptid today.


Indiana cryptids - AI-generated Pukwudgie cryptid in the forest, holding a staff.

Pukwudgies in Indiana are most common at the Mound State Park in Anderson.

©Midjourney‎ AI; prompted and modified by Triton / CC BY 4.0 – License

Indiana’s Pukwudgies (or Puk-Wud-Jies) originated from the legends of local Indigenous peoples like the Lenape (Delaware) and spread through European colonists. Pukwudgies are odd creatures only 3 feet tall. Some say that they look like dwarves or goblins, and often have disproportionate features. They can transform into various animals and like to play tricks on humans. Pukwudgies are mischievous but usually harmless — unless you cross one.  

Pike County Monster

A dark, atmospheric concept of a huge bigfoot monster. Silhouetted in a forest. With a person looking up at them. On a spooky, foggy winters day.

There have been several Bigfoot-like creatures allegedly spotted in Indiana.


In the 1970s, residents of Indiana reported a new cryptid in their state: the Pike County Monster. This creature was at least 10 feet tall, with fiendish glowing eyes and long hair covering its body. They say that even before you see the monster, you’ll definitely smell it. The Pike County monster exudes a horrific stench and an even more terrifying scream. In 1973 Mrs. Cora Slinker reported that it “has great big feet, bigger than human feet”, and that whenever the dogs tried to go after it, it vanished. 

Mill Race Monster

Indiana cryptids - Special camouflage ghillie suit for snipers and intelligence agents.

Witnesses say the Mill Race Monster smells like rotting meat.


On November 1, 1974, two separate groups of people called the police with reports of a strange creature wandering about in Mill Race Park. They said that it was around 7 feet tall with a green, hairy body that appeared to be dripping. The creature became known as the Mill Race Monster and sparked one of the largest monster hunts in America. 

People from all over the country came to Mill Race Park to hunt for the beast. There were so many, in fact, that the local law enforcement had to close and guard the park at night to keep out eager monster hunters, many of whom carried dangerous weapons with them.

Mud Mermaids

Indiana cryptids -Plastic pollution of the marine environment and conservation concept - An exhausted and injured mermaid, stained with fuel oil, suffers from mud and debris and eats dirty fish.

The Mud Mermaids of Indiana reportedly had pointed ears and back legs that tapered to a point.


Indiana may be a landlocked state, but that doesn’t mean that marine creatures don’t show up on occasion. In 1894, witnesses reported two “mermaids” on a sand bar along the Ohio River near Vevay, IN. News reports from the Cincinnati Enquirer said they were yellowish and didn’t have any hair. Now known as the “Mud Mermaids”, the creatures also had sharp claws on their webbed hands. 

Crosley Creature

Indiana cryptids - Bigfoot silhouette

The Crosley Monster is known as “Indiana’s Bigfoot”.

©Jean Faucett/Shutterstock.com

Another famous Indiana cryptid is the Crosley Creature (or Crosley Monster) in Jennings County. Tales describe the creature as being half human and half animal. It stands on its back two legs like a human but uses all four legs when it runs. The Crosley Creature is similar in appearance to Bigfoot, standing at least 7 feet tall with glowing eyes and long, dirty hair. 

One of the more recent sightings of the Crosley Creature occurred in 2006. Four boys were camping in the Crosley Fish and Wildlife Refuge when they heard something moving toward their camp. When it emerged from the trees, the massive creature jumped at them. It then chased the boys until they reached a road, at which point it turned back and disappeared into the forest. 

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Olesia_O/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

Kellianne Matthews is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on anthrozoology, conservation, human-animal relationships, and animal behavior. Kellianne has been writing and researching animals for over ten years and has decades of hands-on experience working with a variety of different animals. She holds a Master’s Degree from Brigham Young University, which she earned in 2017. A resident of Utah, Kellianne enjoys creating, exploring and learning new things, analyzing movies, caring for animals, and playing with her cats.

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