Since men first made their way into the dark mountains of the Ozarks, there have been tales of strange creatures lurking in the shadows. “Modern” men have dismissed such stories as silly or even primitive, told merely to frighten the young or gullible. And indeed, mountaineers have long enjoyed a good yarn, especially at the expense of outsiders. But what yet haunts these old Ozark hills? Even the plague of modernity cannot exorcise every demon from the woods.

For as long as there have been wild places, there have been wild legends. But beyond all legends, there is history. The Ozarks, though an ancient crossroads, became a place of mystery because of the rugged terrain and harsh way of life. People of many beliefs made their way there, some with ideas more dark and esoteric than others.

Haunted Crescent Hotel, Eureka Springs

The Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, is rumored to be one of the most haunted locations in the nation. April 7, 2016, Photo by Joshua Heston

Booger Dog

The Booger Dog is notwhat you might first think! The Ozark word Booger comes fro m the Scottish Bogle, originally from the Old English Bogge. It means Hobgoblin. The Ozark Booger Dog is a great headless spectral hound. The creature has appeared to hunting parties deep in the mountains and is often seen as a black omen associated with the devil. Great spectral dogs have long appeared in Old Europe. In England they were said to be the souls of the unbaptized, stalking the sere dark with no home in heaven or hell. Ancient German lore says great demon hounds are the consort of the winter witch goddess Berchta. She and her spectral pack hunt when the winds turn cold and fierce. So, on a cold night in the Ozarks, beneath a clouded sky, who knows what lurks beyond the campfire?

Freshwater Mermaid

The diary of D. Hyde Abscott, explorer and Ozarks pioneer, was found in the basement of an abandoned Eureka Springs’ cottage near the Crescent Hotel. His April 22, 1867, entry reads, “We delved deep within a strange cave spring opening in the rock bluff from which issued a crystal stream into the Current River upon which we rowed. As we entered, we heard eerie and beautiful singing…”

Mary Calhoun Ghost Story

The gowrow is a beast of an ancient time; not a supernatural entity, but rather a great dinosaur-like creature from a lost world. Early pioneers encountered the gowrow (so named for the gutteral noise it makes just before it strikes) in deep caves and beneath rock ledges. The gowrow is over 20 feet long and displays enormous upturned tusks. It has short legs, webbed feet, sharp claws, and green scales. Its back is bristled with short horns and it possesses a thin, long tail with a sickle-like blade on the end. One once haunted Marvel Cave. Perhaps, far off in the Devil’s Den’s unexplored grottoes, a gowrow yet waits.

Confederate Leaves of Arkansas

Above, autumn leaves above the Confederate Cemetery of Fayetteville, Arkansas.

The Bellsnickle

“The Pelznichols were among the first dark Christmas spirits to make it to North America…. Also present in Nova Scotia and West Virginia, the Bellsnickle was the dominant strain in the 18th-to-early-19th-century Pennsylvania Christmas. When the German Bellsnickles met up with the Celtic ritual of mumming, the two traditions merged.

“The typical Bellsnickle announced his arrival by tapping at the glass pane with his fat birch switch or slender rod. Many of them also carried whips. The Bellsnickle always knew who had been naughty.”

— pages 88-89, The Old Magic of Christmas, Linda Raedisch

Time drops in decay
Like a candle burnt out,
And the mountains and woods
Have their day, have their day;
But, kindly old rout
Of the fire-born moods,
You pass not away.
— W. B. Yeats

Confederate Cemetery Fayetteville

Confederate Cemetery overlooking Fayetteville, Arkansas. November 16, 2016, Photo by Joshua Heston

More Ozark Folklore Monsters…


A ghostly, bloodsucking dinosaur invented to frighten slaves.


A lizard as big as a bull with hind legs that are 10 times higher than its forelegs. The High-Behind laps victims up like a frog laps up flies. It also sucks in its guts to hide-behind trees, therefore, it is sometimes called the HIDE-BEHIND.

King doodle or Whangdoodle

A big lizard that makes a booming sound (like a mountain boomer or collared lizard). It’s longer than a well-rope and 14 hands high.


A giant mudpuppy or waterdog. It is eight-to-10 feet long and destroys fishing tackle.


An albino deer with supernatural powers. The snawfus leaps into treetops and hollers HALYROO in the pineries at night. Antlered head and wings like sprays of dogwood blossoms. The snawfus emits spirals of blue smoke…probably the haze in the hills seen in the early morning. The animal has flowering apple or plum tree boughs in place of antlers.

Stone County Monster

An upright standing tan-colored panther with a long tail and enormous teeth.

Wowzer or Woozer

Super-panther – bites victims head off


A great amphibious panther that swims like a giant mink.

Roark Creek Wampus Cats

An Ozark Bobcat or Bay-Lynx

Whistling Wampus (or Whistler)

A smart, big black cat that “whistles-in” victims.
“Concatinated Order of the Hoo Hoo” Gordon, Ark 1892

The Whistling Whoo-Hoo

A supernatural Cyclone

Hickelsnoorus & Ring-Tailed Tooter

Any member of the Whistling Wampus Cat Family


Resembling a bear, the Chaw-Green has a long tail striped like a barber pole. It is known to steal tobacco and can be easily recognized as it chews and spits like a man.

About the Artist…

Curtis Copeland

Curtis Copeland is a lifelong Ozarker with a strong background in fine arts. A longtime cartographer for the City of Branson, Copeland lives in rural Christian County with wife Crystal and son Coulter. Curtis graciously created all the original art seen on #ArcaneOzarks.

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