The Unexplained: Beware of the White River Monster

In 1971, the White River Monster was seen by several people who emphasized that he was as big as a boxcar and had a horn in the middle of his forehead.

I have lived on part of the White River system of the Ozarks for almost 40 years.  Before I lived on it, I often visited the area as a kid.  Sometimes Daddy would let me take the wheel, in the cabin of the boat.  I was Tugboat Willie, as I eased the boat out into the center of the lake.

Daddy would start laughing and shake his head.  Funny that I have been all over those parts and don’t remember hearing about the White River Monster.  Perhaps it is because I was almost 200 miles northwest of the mysterious activity.  They still talk about it plenty down there.

The river was once a winding ribbon going mostly horizontal across the landscape.  It was dammed up in several places to create recreational lakes and hydroelectric power for the area.  One of the dams is actually named Powersite, with a little settlement of the same name, high up on the bluff.

La Riviere Blanche is what the river was named by early French Traders.  The river is 720 miles long and originates from the Boston Mountains with a spring as its source.

The Buffalo River joins the White River in the Harrison, Arkansas area.  The Buffalo River is also fed by the same spring in the Boston Mountains.  These river systems are huge, winding around in moccasin bends.

Sara Marie Hogg

The waters are sometimes joined by swampy bayous and all of them are residences of exotic creatures.  There might even be a few hellbenders hiding about.  The areas are magical and mysterious.  Some of the river and lake fauna, are catfish as big as Volkswagons.

Divers have confirmed it—they are bottom feeders that usually glide silently and slowly at the bottom of the dams.  Strange-looking Gulf Sturgeon have been caught in the waters of these lakes and rivers.

The White River wanders around and makes its way over to Newport in northeastern Arkansas.  The area around Newport is where the sneaky beast first made himself known.  He was spotted from the banks of the White River.

The residents do not consider the creature a monster.  They are fond of him and call him Whitey.

Is Whitey one creature or several generations of the same family?

Whitey was active during the Civil War when he overturned a boat.  During the war, the river was a main source of transportation for both goods and people.   The boat was rocked, then overturned, spilling men into the dark water.

Though there was plenty of evidence of Whitey for years, no one ever actually saw the White River Monster until 1915. Then there were quite a few sightings, all at once.  One respectable plantation owner was able to give a good description:  The skin was gray, and he was as long as three cars – as wide as one car.

No one doubted the plantation owner, so some of the residents began constructing a net out of rope, to capture the creature.  The net was abandoned when the money ran out.

The creature was not seen much, again, until 1937.  The plentiful fish in that section of the river just all ran out.  The regular fishermen were perplexed.  The White River Monster made a theatrical appearance and several fishermen saw it.

They were flabbergasted.  Over one hundred people in all saw the White River Monster during that appearance.  Another farmer-plantation owner witnessed the activities of the creature.  Bramlett Bateman came forward and backed up the reports of the fishermen.

He described it as having the skin of an elephant.  It was five feet wide and at least twelve feet of its length had been visible above the water.  As it lounged about in the water, Bateman made note that the face of the creature looked like that of a catfish.

Bateman was worried that the monster would do harm to his crops.  He wanted to dynamite that section of the river.  He could not get permission to bring in the TNT.

Deep sea divers came in to search for Whitey in the river depths, but they could not find him.  He disappeared from sight until 1971.

In 1971, Whitey was seen by several people who emphasized that he was as big as a boxcar.  It appeared to be molting.  Its smooth gray skin was peeling.  It had a horn in the middle of its forehead.  It made odd mooing and neighing noises that echoed across the water.

Until this time, Whitey was thought to be totally aquatic, but strange three-toed tracks were found on a river island—Towhead Island.  The three-toed tracks were fourteen inches long.  There were crushed and trampled bushes nearby.

People often tended to behave erratically when Whitey was up and about.  That is possibly why the Arkansas State Legislature made a law that created a refuge for the creature.  In the White River Monster Refuge, it is illegal to harm the monster in any way.

The bill that was signed into law by Senator Robert Harvey declared the refuge from the southern point of Old Grand Glaize to the northern point on the river known as Rosie.

Even though the creature exists in fresh river water, there are those outsiders that are convinced it is an Elephant Seal or Manatee.  Yet, it is as big as a boxcar.  These suggestions have been offered up.  Please come back, Whitey.  Pose for the camera.


Please click HERE to find Sara Marie Hogg’s novel, It Rises from the Pee Dee, on Amazon.

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