I’ve always found the unexplained and paranormal fascinating. I don’t really believe witches and demons exist, but who doesn’t get a kick from getting a little scared and unnerved? That’s what this spooky season is for.
While some tales are more grounded than others, I thought I’d delve into the world of cryptids, or animals and beings whose existence have never been proven nor disproven. Think the Loch Ness Monster or Bigfoot, for example.
Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, Kansas has a scarce amount of native cryptids. I could only find one solely attributed to the Sunflower State, and that would be Sinkhole Sam.
Sinkhole Sam is said to be a large, worm- or serpent-like creature that lives in Lake Inman in McPherson County. People theorize that Sam is a prehistoric creature that lived in flooded underground caverns, which eventually led it to the lake. The first known account of the creature came from two men fishing at the sinkhole. Another sighting claimed the beast was about 15 feet long and as round as a car tire, but this is essentially all we know about ol’ Sam. Sightings have stopped over the years, leading some to believe it has died.
It’s far from the most exciting monster compared to say, El Chupacabra, whose name means “goat-sucker” and is known for mysteriously draining blood from livestock, or Mothman, a large winged creature from West Virginia whose presence spells out impending doom.
However, here are some other creatures you might run into in Kansas if you’re a believer:
Though most associate Bigfoot, the famous bipedal and ape-like creature, with the forests of the Pacific Northwest, the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization has recorded indications of Bigfoot activity within the state — even as locally as our own Riley and Geary counties.
The two recorded accounts don’t hold up too well in my opinion, but in the first, a woman and her boyfriend were walking in a rural area near Fort Riley one evening in 1978. The woman said she could sense something following the couple and then heard something move in the brush. She did not see whatever it was, but the boyfriend said he saw a tall creature standing on two feet about 20 feet away.
In a slightly more recent account, two men were fishing on the Big Blue River near Barnes Road in 2011. They were walking back to their car that night by a thick strip of trees. One man said they could hear what sounded like someone walking alongside them through the forested area. The being would stop and start when they did, as well as whistle back and forth. I wouldn’t be surprised if this turned out to be a random person messing with the guys, but apparently paralleling by an unseen thing and human-like whistles are commonly reported in Bigfoot accounts.
I didn’t uncover any particular reports of hellhounds in Kansas, but they are not specific to any one area and can be found in some form throughout mythology around the world. They’re typically described as ghastly black dogs with glowing red eyes. They are associated with guarding entrances to the netherworld, like in graveyards and burial grounds, and seeing one is believed to be an omen of death.
People claim that an innocuous cemetery in Stull, Kansas, located between Topeka and Lawrence, is one of the seven gates of Hell in the U.S. They said the church there, which no longer stands, was the gathering place for witches and occult groups to worship and perform rituals. If there were any place for a hellhound to inhabit, I imagine this would be it.
For the best of both worlds, we have Beaman, a sort of wolf-Bigfoot hybrid. Technically, it allegedly lives in forested areas around the Kansas City area, so it’s not 100% Kansan.
The story goes that a large gorilla escaped from a crashed circus train in the early 1900s, and the Beaman beast is the offspring of that gorilla. Others say Beaman is more like a coyote or wolf, terrorizing farms without clear signs of the usual suspected animals. This sounds just like a regular animal to me, but it’s worth noting that cryptids don’t necessarily have to be supernatural or have larger-than-life stories associated with them.
In any case, as much as I like reading about these mysterious creatures, I hope I never have the fortune of encountering any of them, real or not.