I saw one of those “most famous cryptids from each state” lists going around, and I was disappointed to see Indiana’s item was yet again the Beast of Busco. And I mean, it’s a good choice — but it’s far from my favorite Indiana cryptid. That will always be, for me, the Crawfordsville Monster.

And right now I’m going to tell you about it.

The Crawfordsville monster was, as you’d expect, sighted in Crawfordsville, IN. I used to live a half hour away from there, and it’s your average Indiana town. They like to brag about how Lew Wallace wrote Ben Hur there.

Will Shortz, the NYT crossword puzzle guy, is from there.

The monster was first spotted in 1891 by a couple of ice delivery guys one night. They described it as a “horrible apparition” hovering in the air over them and it freaked them the shit out.

The local paper (because of course this made the local paper) said it was pure white, had no definite shape, was 18 feet long and 8 feet wide, and was moving through the air via pairs of “side fins.”

Also it had one flaming eye, because of course it did.

Hundreds eventually claimed to have seen the monster, and like a lot of these things, the stories got more elaborate. News spread first to Indianapolis and even made the papers in New York.

It was wild.

A couple of guys (John Hornbeck and Abe Hernley) decided to track down the beast, because of course they did. And, amazingly, they found it and followed it around town.

It turns out it was a flock of birds.

Specifically it was a flock of killdeer, which have white underfeathers. Crawfordsville had recently installed electric street lights which confused the crap out of the birds and were hovering around town en masse.

And so Indiana’s best cryptid story, in my mind, is the time Crawfordsville, IN freaked out about a flock of super confused birds.

And more people should know about it.

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