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An elusive werewolf? A possible Dogman? Or simply misidentified bear sightings. The Beast of the Land Between the Lakes is a local region for decades upon decades. Becoming a sort of local legend, now spread into a type of folklore. But through today’s episode, we shall discuss the sightings and validity of the stories.

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Land Between the Lakes

Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area located within both Kentucky and Tennessee. The region is between Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake; and a recreational area since 1963 by President John F. Kennedy

The region was originally Between the Rivers, from the 1830s or 1840s; before the bodies of water converted into man-made lakes, due to the construction of a canal in 1963. Average small-town type region and feel. That good old middle America-type atmosphere. But layered with the addition of the feeling and general weirdness that Central American woodlands and ruralness give you.


Paranormal & Strange Encounters

Despite the new development and modern focus on the region in past decades, the area has long been known for a variety of strange occurrences. From nightly spirits, Indian curses, mysterious lights, and possibly the most bizarre, a bipedal creature which prowls the landscape, known as “The Beast Between the Rivers” or the “Beast of the Land Between the Lakes.”

The creature itself typically looks like a bipedal wolf, standing around 7 feet tall, with clawed hands, powerful jaws and teeth, glowing red eyes, and cloaked in a fetid, rotting stench. 

Supposedly, accounts and tales of these strange sightings date back to the region’s early settlers. Some of the first Europeans in the region were French trappers and hunters. Who claim that a massive beast, half-man and half-wolf, prowls the forest. Which would howl in the night and leave the mutilated carcasses of animals wherever it went.

They called the creature loup-garou, blaming the beast for the disappearances of hunters. According to the native Shawnee tribe, this abomination is the spirit of a powerful shape-shifting shaman, telling outsiders to stay away from the area. These settlers did not heed the warning and would have their livestock killed. By all accounts, it seemed to be a hairy, wolf/man-like creature. In fact, sightings are still going to this day. However, we’ll bring that up later on.


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20th Century Reports

A somewhat more recent account of the Beast occurred in 1973. A group of students from Murray State University was purportedly camping in the area one evening when one fella ventured off to pee. When he came back, he was reportedly pale white with fear and explained that he had heard something large breathing in the darkness and that he had had an overpowering sense of being watched. Not long after this, something could be heard moving and crashing through the surrounding brush, snorting and sniffing while circling the campsite.

The campers never actually saw anything solid, but they kept hearing it until it let out a massive howl and snarl. At this point, the group jumped into their car and tried to drive off. The beast however gave chase, and reportedly even caught up to them. Supposedly being able to grab hold of the back of the vehicle, and stop it in its tracks. They managed to get lost after flooring it and managed to get back to the university.


The Jan Thompson “Reports”

Another account-related by a frequent blogger on this phenomenon named Jan Thompson allegedly occurred to her and her cousin Joe in the summer of 1978. Joe apparently was an avid rider of dirt bikes, with which he would go tearing about over forest trails in the Land Between the Lakes, and on this day he was out as usual as Jan and her other cousin sat outside.

At some point, they claim that they could hear Joe’s dirt bike suddenly issue a frantic whine as it rapidly picked up speed and began racing in their direction at top speed, and he soon came bursting from the trees to make a frantic beeline towards the house, finally skidding wildly to a halt, after which the visibly shaken Joe began gazing back towards the tree line Jan would explain what happened next.


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Jan’s Encounter

“We followed his gaze, not understanding what this escapade was all about. In silence, we watched with him for about 30 seconds, and then the dogs started barking. Growling. And then whining, trying to get out of the pen in a frantic panic of digging and gnawing at the fencing.“IT GRABBED ME!! LOOK AT MY LEG!!”, Joe screamed, making us jump with alarm at the sound of his voice. We looked down at his Levi’s and saw scratch marks going across his right thigh, scratches that tore through the tough denim and left small bloody marks on his skin.

The marks were like a bears-claw-rake, not those caused by branches or sticky bushes, but a definite wide pattern of a paw print. “IT WALKED ON TWO LEGS!”, his voice startled us again, as he was trying to tell his story in between huge gulps of air. He was frightened beyond belief, and the bits and pieces of what he was striving with extreme effort to tell us were coming out in loud syllables that filled us both with the same dread. “It was following me through the woods….along the path….from the old sawmill….hairy…it was so hairy…and its snout was so long…and it walked on two legs….it ran on two legs…”

A piercing howl soon caused the dogs to cower in fear and stare out towards the forest. Then, out of the treeline crept a creature nobody was familiar with. It was huge, hairy, and walking on two legs. The snout was long and the witness was very specific that it was much different in appearance than the typical Bigfoot, the vague figure looked almost wolf-like in appearance, with large, black eyes.

The group purportedly then ran into their house in a panic, grabbed knives from the kitchen, and then hid under a bed. They heard the creature moving about just outside the house, with the dogs now barking and growling themselves. It wasn’t until the group’s parental units arrived home, and the car’s lights eventually spooked the creature into fleeing.


Jan’s Stories Continue

Jan also presented another case about the Beast, this time being from the early 1980s. Now, take this one with a side of salt, it’s a very iffy story. Jan is the primary source of the story and many people question a lot of the key points. So with this story, police were called to a campground in an area known for its abandoned military bunkers, where they discovered what happens after the Beast moves through the area. They find the badly mutilated bodies of three of the four campers, a young couple and their child, with their corpses in pretty bad conditions.

It looked as if a massive animal came through and just ripped them apart, tearing off limbs and spreading them across the campsite. The bite marks reportedly don’t match creatures of the region, being bears, canines, and cougars. The thing is though, the couple had two children. So the police shifted focus to try and find the missing child, hoping to find them alive.

The group of officers went off to investigate, but after some time a scream could be heard. A man’s shriek turned into a long wail and then to whimpering. When the others arrived at where the sound originated from, they found one officer, clearly in distress. There was blood on his face, the front of his shirt, and on the brim of his hat. More blood began dripping on him.

They all looked up and noticed a very small hand could be seen dangling down from a tree limb; the missing young girl had been found. She was located extremely high up into the tree too; you would have to have climbed the tree a bit before reaching the body. The little girl had apparently been carried up the tree and leisurely eaten while carefully laid across a large tree branch. More of the same long gray and brown hair was found sticking in the bark of the tree near her body.


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Land Between the Lakes | Additional Stories

Samples of saliva were supposedly sent for analysis. Coming back as being from an unidentified species akin to a wolf. 

This is where it gets even stranger, and a bit questionable as to Jan’s recounting of the story. According to Jan, this report was never in the news or media. Hidden by the local government as it threatens the tourism industry. It would be good if word of a mysteriously gruesome family murder or attack got out. But the thing is, there is a lack of concrete sources to follow up on, which is why the stories are so questionable.

Jan’s report apparently met with a good amount of scathing skepticism online, with many accusing it of being a fabricated urban legend, but for her part she remains adamant that it is true and has related other accounts of the Beast of the Land Between the Lakes as well, saying:

“There are several more stories that I have heard about this ‘Werewolf’ over in LBL tell me over the years after this particular incident. There were several groups of boy scouts that had seen it. Several more campers, fishermen, and boaters had seen it from the safety of their boats. Floating in some of the many bays that touched upon the shoreline. Hikers and bikers have heard its howling and have seen ‘something’ stalking them while they were on rural trails; hiding amongst the trees and foliage. Hunters find deer carcasses that are brutally torn apart.”


Local Encounters at the Land Between the Lakes

In the meantime, others have come forward with their own experiences with the fierce, elusive beast. Reports of being watched, hearing howls, or coming across the badly mauled carcasses of deer and other wildlife. Many experienced hunters who are aware of the spooky stories are said to avoid the cursed area altogether; warning others to go hunting there at their own risk.

Sometimes physical evidence pops up; such as the odd footprint, tufts of hair, and examples of dug-out “nests” that appear to have something large sleeping there. However, these have all remained inconclusive at best. There just isn’t any firm physical evidence aside from witness testimonies; which tend to pop up a lot via online forums. The only real chronological set of events is in a documentary by Barton Nunnelly, Hunt the Dogman: High Strangeness in Western Kentucky.


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Hoptown Chronicle

Something that I wish to bring up and mentioned earlier on in the episode. An article from the Hoptown Chronicles, reporting on how several locals feel about the stories surrounding the Beast of LBL. Several do not like the stories, claiming them to be nothing more than rumors to gain tourism to the area. Playing off the mysterious aspects of middle American small town communities; turning it into something far more out there than it actually is. Many are upset with the Tennessee Valley Authority turning the region into a recreational area. Forcing a lot of people off their land and away from their homes.


Land Between the Lakes Conclusion

In conclusion, what exactly is the Beast of the Land Between the Lakes, if it were to exist at all? There are several theories from all sorts of individuals. Eyewitnesses claim it is something other than a Bigfoot, but still a large bipedal creature. Some saying it’s an actual werewolf or a version of some form of dogman from across the US. However, others think that it could be some sort of misidentification of some other animal, perhaps a bear. Even spirit and more paranormal theories have popped up here and there.


Resources

Hoptown Chronicle | Fake Story of a Beast

Four Rivers Explorer | Land Between the Lakes Ghosts

Mysterious Universe | The Bizarre Beast of the Land Between the Lakes

Fiction | The Beast of LBL – Long General Horror Story



Credits

EP 46 – The Beast of the Land Between the Lakes. Produced by Shane Cummings; Audio Editing & Research by Shane Cummings.
Intro & Outro music “Creepy Regrets” by AnMo.


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