By Connor Keating
Over the years there have been many legends, tales, and even photographs, of sea serpents, living plesiosaurs, and other sea monsters. But the idea of one of these fabled beasts living in Kansas? Sounds far fetched.
Long ago, Kansas was a great sea filled with many of the most dangerous sea creatures to ever live. From the 18-foot Xiphactinus, to the 45-foot-long Tylosaurus, you wouldn’t want to have swam in Kansas before it became the grass covered plain it is today.
So is it that hard to believe somehow one of these prehistoric monsters managed to survive the extinction? Yes. Still though, Kansas has a number of tales of monsters lurking in its waterways.
Many Native American tribes tell stories of such creatures. The Arapaho have a legend about a horned serpent called the Hiitacabiit, and the Sauk, Fox, and Potawatomi tribes tell tales of the Maneto, a giant serpent that was des0cribed as a man eater.
In the 1920’s, there were reports of fishermen seeing some kind of serpent in the Inman area. Then one fateful day in 1952, a pair of Mennonite boys, Albert Neufeld and George Regehr, sighted the beast swimming in the Big Sinkhole; Neufeld took two shots at the creature, but they didn’t seem to affect it.
Later that same year a story was published in The Salina Journal written by Ernest Alva Dewey, however Dewey was known for writing satirical pieces, making fun of these sorts of sightings. He had once written an article about UFO sightings, and claimed they were actually because of a Kansas dragon called the “ball-tailed snickelhoopus.”
Likewise, he went out to Inman in search of the beast, and claimed he went with a Dr. Erasmus P. Quattlebaum. The totally real doctor told him that the creature was actually a “foopengerkle,” the most extinct of extinct animals in Kansas, that live in subterranean caverns. He also said the creatures were herbivorous.
From then, through the early 1950s, people were drawn to the sinkhole to see if they could get a glimpse of the creature known as “Sinkhole Sam”.
The beast is generally described as being worm-like. It’s said to be 15 feet long, and about as big around as a tire. Eyewitnesses have also stated Sam has a “non-snakelike” grin.
Think of the movie “Tremors”.
The Hutchinson Collegian deployed its own team to try and find “Sinkhole Sam”, but evidently it was a little too cold that day for giant snake-worm monsters. The Big Sinkhole is southeast of Inman, right along 10th Ave, smack dab in the middle of nowhere. Perfectly isolated for a cryptid. The grass around the sinkhole is tall, and the area looks generally untouched.
While no serpents were sighted, a strange path of bedded down grass leading down a steep incline and to the water’s edge was found. Is there a logical explanation for this, like a raccoon, deer, or even duck hunters? Or maybe … just maybe, it was “Sinkhole Sam”.
In 1967 around October, the story of a 20 foot serpent killing a calf, dragging it to Kingman County Lake, and then devouring it, began to spread. Through the late 1960s many attempts to find the calf killer were made, but none were successful, and the story fell into obscurity.
Unfortunately, stuff like this doesn’t happen anymore, and it’s a shame. Everyone loves a good lake monster story and Kansas actually has a few of them. Maybe one day, one of these creatures will be spotted again, or a new monster will surface… maybe when everyone looks up from their phones.