The following is quoted from a brochure "Tales and Legends of the Dells," published in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin.  The introduction is by "Author -- Captain Herb Campbell," but whether he's the author of the whole brochure, or just an author who wrote the intro is unknown.

The brochure is undated, but is from some time in the 1960's, 70's or '80s.  My best guess is the early to mid 1980's, but it could be earlier.


Monster of the Rock River

"The Winnebago tell of a tell when their people camped on the banks of the Rock River.  In this stream lived a huge and terrible monster.  The older people of the tribe say this creature had a large head, awesome jaws, and body likened to a serpent.  It is said to have ranged the whole length of the stream, preying on both animals and men, as to which he most preferred no one knows.

"Hapless creatures that went to the water to drink were frequently seized and swallowed.  At all of the fording places this demon found hunting good.  Indians crossing at these places were promptly dragged beneath the water and never seen or heard of again.  Only a few people ever saw this monster and survived to tell the tale, but it presence could be told by the swirling and boiling of the water when he was near.

"In the spring, his movement in the river broke up the ice and heaped it against the river banks.  The dens of the monster were found in deep places.  There it slept and devoured its victims.  Some Indians believed that there were several of these monsters living in the waters of the Rock River and made many offerings of tobacco and other desirable things to appease the wrath of the monsters.  This no doubt preserved the lives of many people."

Another Winnebago legend goes like this (quoted from the same brochure):
"A very large fish lived in the lake. [Name of lake not given].  The fish had a great appetite for moose, elk, bear and men.  He would lay waiting where they were accustomed to swim.  He would then drag them under and swallow them--hair, hide, horns, hoofs, moccasins and all.  Soon the Winnebago did not frequent these places at all.

"Most of the legends of the Winnebago had their settings on or near bodies of water, and their simple stories reflect the love, fear and sense of mystery they felt regarding bodies of water in general."

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Revised: September 28, 2004