EARLY SIGHTINGS: The legend of the White River Monster begins in the town of Newport in northeastern Arkansas. In 1915, local farmers began filing reports of a large, unknown creature off the banks of the White River. In July 1937, an eyewitness described the creature as having gray skin and being “as wide as a car and three cars long.” Now, that’s one big river monster!
THE MONSTER RETURNS: The White River Monster was sighted again in the summer of 1971. This time, people who saw the river monster described it as, “the size of a boxcar.” Eyewitnesses said the beast made strange noises that sounded like a combination of a “cow’s moo and a horse’s neigh.” In 1973 the Arkansas State Legislator created the White River Monster Refuge, making it illegal to harass or harm the White River Monster.
MISTAKEN IDENTITY? According to scientists, the White River Monster is likely a case of mistaken identity. Scientist Roy P. Mackal believes the creature is simply outside of it’s normal habitat and because of this, eyewitnesses are unfamiliar with what the White River Monster really is. Mackal believes that the creature is in fact a large male elephant seal that wandered up the Mississippi River into White River. That would make the elephant seal a long way from home! Measuring an average of 5,000 pounds and 14 feet in length, a male elephant seal shares many of the characteristics described by those who’ve encountered the “monster.” Even the “bone” on the creature’s forehead can be explained by the male elephant seal’s inflatable trunk. So are male elephant seals visiting White River? No one’s been able to confirm that they are, and the mystery continues.