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The Maumee Monster: The Mystery of River Dragon

Maumee River Monster is a river monster also known as a river dragon. First reported in Napoleon, Ohio. On September 13, 1902, many persons have seen the animal, and its appearance is accurately described. In form the creature is said to be somewhat like a river lizard, although considerably larger.

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It has been seen on the banks of the Maumee River and appears to move as easily on the land as in the water. The principal feature about the animals’ body is a huge tail, covered with minute scales like a fish.

It also has two small, web-shaped feet, possibly six inches in length. Its eyes are very small, set far apart, and are of a peculiar greenish color. The whole body of the creature seems covered with a coarse, heavy hide of a dull brown color.

Artist’s drawing of what the creature may look like.

It is almost impossible to give anything like the exact measurements of the animal, but it is estimated that the creature is nine or ten feet long, and would measure anywhere from 24 to 30 inches in height, while its body would measure perhaps 14 inches across.

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Some one who has seen it has remarked, “if there is such a thing as a cross between an alligator, a lizard and a snake, I believe our river ‘haunt’ would exactly fill the bill.”

Parts of the body of the animal are ill proportioned, giving it a squatty appearance when seen at its full length. Characteristics of both the water and land are mingled at times very noticeably together, and it is impossible to classify the creature with any accuracy.

The name it has come to bear along the river if the “river Dragon,” although who first suggested the mystic creature of superstition as its namesake, it would be impossible to say. The home of the animal is on Savage’s Island, about 12 miles below here.

At that point, there is a series of rapids in the Maumee River, and it is supposed that the animal was washed into the river from Lake Erie, into which the stream empties, a short distance below.

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In parts the island is covered by a thick shrubbery, reaching to the water’s edge, but although the ground has been carefully explored, no trace of the lurking place of the animal could be found.

It is now believed that the creature inhabits a cave in the island, entrance to which is effected from the river, the water concealing all trace of it. The theory of the pioneer of this section was that there is a vast honeycomb of caverns in this vicinity, many of which are below the bed of the river, and it is believed by many that the animal makes its home among these passages.

At that time, party of fishermen were rowing home about dusk from their day’s sport, when suddenly in the vicinity of Savage’s Island one of them uttered a low exclamation of terror and dropped his oars. The attention of the others was attracted by his actions, and the course of the boat was stopped.

Directly on a jutting point of the island, hardly 40 feet away, lay an animal, the sight of which could well inspire fear. In the gathering gloom the weirdness of the creature’s appearance was intensified.

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“It reminded me more of a huge snake than anything else,” one of the party afterward said. Its head was turned toward the occupants of the boat, and suddenly it raised itself, giving the startled watchers a vivid idea of its size, and plunged into the water with a tremendous splash. This move was enough, and the men bent to their oars heartily. But the creature evidently had no idea of attacking them, for that was the last seen of it that night.

The story the party told of their encounter with the strange creature of the river aroused wide interest, but although a close watch was kept on that section of the river, nothing further was seen of the animal until nearly a month afterward.

On this occasion the view was obtained in much the same manner was before, and the creature dived into the water almost instantly on being sighted, but the previous story was corroborated, and that the Maumee River contained a strange sea animal was no longer doubted.

No signs of other animals of the same kind have been seen in the vicinity, and it is the common supposition that the creature is alone, although what became of the former “dragon” and how this one succeeded in effecting an entrance to the river unseen, are questions it seems impossible to answer.

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There, however, seems to be several of the creatures in existence somewhere, as the two experiences here can hardly have been with the same one. [Bay City [MI] Times 14 June 1903: p. 18]

In the 1970’s, the man who reported it was Sam McConnish, who claimed he saw the river monster and a Thunderbird. It usually is said to look like Nessie or a giant catfish, though it’s stated to be a serpent more often than a giant catfish.

In 2009 a man who was by the mouth of the Maumee River reported a large sea serpent like monster and it had quickly disappeared into the water.


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Jake Carter

Jake Carter is a researcher and a prolific writer who has been fascinated by science and the unexplained since childhood. He is always eager to share his findings and insights with the readers of, a website he created in 2013.