Swamp haunted by hairy creatures, scary tales
By Roger Pitt
State 54 was originally routed over existing town and county roads from Northport to New London. The 3-mile route through the Mukwa Marsh was made in 1932-33, one load of fill at a time.
Work began two weeks ago between Royalton and New London and will be under construction through August. The road is closed to install three culverts. Single lane travel will be possible after that is completed.
Marsh Road popped up during the history search because it runs from State 54 to White Lake Road.
Strangeusa.com has a site dedicated to Marsh Road with many personal comments, including some that can be verified.
One Marsh Road story is that a “goatman” in the 1960s or 1970s killed a couple on prom night and left the bodies on a “make out” couch along the gravel road.
The timeline of the “goatman” came during my watch over news in Waupaca County and is so bizarre it could not be buried. Besides, it is the type of story the most tight-lipped officer couldn’t keep mum.
A search for “goatman” provided little information. There were two references other than describing “goatman” as a creature in Greek and Roman mythology – half human and half four-legged animal, goat or horse.
There was reference for a “goatman” living beneath the Pope Lick train trestle – much like the troll under the bridge in the Billy Goat Gruff fairy tale – at Louisville. The other was seen in Maryland.
Most Marsh Road comments are about strange lights, specters, orbs and scary experiences.
There was a verifiable entry on the website: “The only people out there is State Trooper Binder and a bunch of Waupaca County cops waiting to give someone an OWI or underage!”
Recently retired Binder said he did patrol the road and underage alcohol was common.
Barb, who graduated Weyauwega-Fremont High School, said it was a popular site to park and for beer parties.
Marsh Road is narrow, mostly gravel and lined by marsh, water and trees. I have not been on it for several years – giving up a cell phone on retiring in 2004. I did not know of the mysterious history, but it was not any place I want to be stranded on – unable to seek help.
“Finding Bigfoot,” a series on Animal Planet, is seeking information from people with supernatural experiences on the road for a potential future episode.
Some stories during a career as a dedicated journalist were fun and seldom dealt with tangible facts or legitimacy. Two other mysteries in Waupaca County got a lot of print with no verification.
I wrote volumes on the mysterious black cat that was sighted by many Waupaca County residents. The story had a proverbial nine lives until about 1992 when it ran out of time.
I began in 1964 with The Post-Crescent as bureau writer in New London. One of the more unusual stories in those days involved reports of a beer-guzzling, hairy ‘big foot’ inhabiting the marsh around Fremont.
The local yeti was spotted near the Deltox Shooting Preserve, east and a little north of Orihula, and a swamp just east of Boom Island. It was fortuitous for Earl Boyle, owner of Orihula Resort, headquarters for big foot searchers.
The sightings of a yeti, better known as Bigfoot, lasted only briefly and were unconfirmed. It would be hard to miss – described as human like, eight or nine feet tall, lumbering about on its hind legs and weighing in the neighborhood of 600 pounds, give or take a few six-packs of beer.
A local warden added spice to the story that evidence indicated it was a large, thirsty, vegetarian beast that feasted on canary grass and left piles of beer cans drained dry. There were no tracks and it was a time before DNA was a common identity test.
Spring fishing was about to begin and the yeti hunters turned to walleye and white bass.
There were many sightings of the black cat in the late 1980s to about 1992. It was good copy and seemed to be at slow times for news when it got more space and coverage than deserved.
The black cat was described as the size of a panther, cougar, mountain lion or puma and seen in the headlights of a car or in the distance of a field or edge of a woods – usually at dawn or dusk.
It was seen by various people, many known personally and seldom prone to exaggeration or illusions. Reports came from Clintonville, Waupaca and New London.
More “off the record” comments were received by people who said they had seen the big cat than those quoted in the news stories, risking being ridiculed by skeptics or friends.
The last report came from Readfield where an elderly man spotted the cat in a field behind the house. He was watching the cat while telling me about it on the phone.
Too bad it was before the smart phone. A reward offered by the paper for a picture of the big cat went unclaimed.