Thursday, December 8, 2016

// // Leave a Comment


The Hodag is a folkloric animal of the American state of Wisconsin, referred to as a fearsome critter. Its history is focused mainly around the city of Rhinelander in northern Wisconsin, where it was said to have been discovered.


The legend was born in the year 1893,when newspapers reported the discovery of a hodag in Rhinelander, Wisconsin. It had  "the head of a frog, the grinning face of a giant elephant, thick and strong stout legs set off by huge claws, the back of a dinosaur, and a long tail with spears at the end". The reports were instigated by well-known Wisconsin land surveyor, timber cruiser and prankster Eugene Shepard, who rounded up a group of local people to capture the animal.The group reported that they needed to use dynamite to kill the beast.

A photograph of the remains of the charred beast was released to the media. It was "the fiercest, strangest, most frightening monster ever to set razor sharp claws on the earth. It became extinct after its main food source, all white bulldogs, became scarce in the area."

The Hodag had been a popular topic around the campfires of lumberjacks for as long as anyone could remember. The lumberjacks claimed the Hodag monster was the living embodiment of deceased lumber oxen, filled with rage and hatred towards mankind for forcing upon them an enslaved existence during their previous life.


Eugene Shepard claimed to have captured another Hodag in 1896, and this one was captured alive. He displayed this Hodag at the first Oneida County fair. Thousands of people came to see the Hodag at the fair or at Shepard's display in a shanty at his house. Having connected wires to it, Shepard would occasionally move the creature, which would typically send the already-skittish viewers fleeing the display.

As newspapers locally, statewide, and then nationally began picking up the story of the apparently remarkable, living creature, a small group of scientists from the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. announced they would be traveling to Rhinelander to inspect the apparent discovery. Their mere announcement spelled the end, as Shepard was then forced to admit that the Hodag was a hoax, , but even then it continued to be a successful attraction. The creature was nothing more than a carved stump, cattle horns, and a few attached wires to create movement.


By the 1920s Shepard and his Hodags were known throughout the entire region and had postcards of the beast circulating the entire country. The town of Rhinelander would eventually become famous as the Hodag City, a nickname that the citizens were very proud of and still treasure to this day.
Though the Hodag may not have ever existed, it was due, in part, to Shepard's crazy hoax that Rhinelander became the booming city that it is today. His concoction brought a mass of people to a community striving for growth in a time of economic decline, and for that Rhinelander will forever be in debt to Eugene Shepard and his legendary Hodag.

Hodag's Sculpture

The Hodag became the official symbol of Rhinelander, Wisconsin.It is the mascot of Rhinelander High School and lends its name to numerous Rhinelander area businesses and organizations. The city of Rhinelander's website calls Rhinelander "The Home of the Hodag." A larger-than-life fiberglass sculpture of the Hodag, created by a local artist, resides on the grounds of the Rhinelander Area Chamber of Commerce where it draws thousands of visitors each year. The Hodag also lends its name and image to the Hodag Country Festival.


Post a Comment