Green Clawed Beast of the Ohio River

No items found.

Click the image above for the full gallery.

Every time I learn something about the 1950s, it adds to my already bizarre image of it. The Second Red Scare was in full swing in the United States, and its effects appeared everywhere, like in science fiction novels. By the mid-1950s, there was a huge ongoing UFO craze leading into the space race between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, the last of the Universal Classic Monsters had debuted in Creature from the Black Lagoon, and Florida was panicking from stories of a killer pink cloud.

It's strange to think that in a few decades, people dealt with World War I, The Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, World War II, the Korean War, the start of the Vietnam War, and the beginning of the end of segregation. All that, of course, is a US-centric perspective because we're about to head over to a little town called Evansville, situated on the Ohio River in southwestern Indiana. It was there in Evansville, back in 1955, that a woman had a bizarre and almost fatal encounter with a creature still talked about today.

Where is Evansville, Indiana?

First, let's look at the state of Indiana.

Map of the USA and Mexico. It shows the state of Indiana outlined in red. Indiana is positioned south of the Great Lakes, west of New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio.
Indiana, USA. If you're from the US, there's about a 50/50 chance you've heard of Indiana. For everyone else in the world, the closest thing might be "Indiana Jones."

I could tell you all sorts of factoids about Indiana, like how residents are called "Hoosiers" and no one has a clue where the name came from. Or, I could tell you something about how historical records show that humans were in the area going back to at least 8,000 BC. Or, maybe I could tell you about how the name "Indiana" means "Land of the Indians"—and a bit of history where Virginia, West Virginia, and a few companies warred over ownership of the name "Indiana."

Those things are all easy to find in documentaries with monotone narrators, skimmed on Wikipedia, or even generated from the likes of A.I. (which will get half of it wrong). But, oh, no, we're not here for normal. We're here for strange and unusual.

Like the fact that the first train robbery in the USA happened in Indiana back in 1866 by two brothers, John and Simeon Reno. And how Indiana invented rear-view mirrors back in 1911 during the first-ever Indianapolis 500. And how Indiana invented the breathalyzer in 1938, but they originally gave it a much better name: the Drunkometer. Chuck Taylor shoes, Wonder Bread, sliced bacon, the iconic glass Coca‑Cola Contour Bottle, and Dairy Queen's ice cream machines were all invented in Indiana.

It's a state with over 900 lakes, a place where (by actual law) hotel sheets must be exactly 99 inches long and 81 inches wide, and anyone putting on puppet shows, wire dancing, or tumbling acts is guilty of "Immoral Practices." It's also illegal to take baths between October and March, and mustaches are illegal if the bearer has a tendency to habitually kiss other humans (only humans...?).

Yes, it's a state full of creativity, inventions, confounding laws, and...well...Indiana is also home to the city of Gary, which was the "Murder Capital of the World" in the 1990s. So, there's that.

Good job, Indiana.

You fit right in with the rest of the states in the union.

And here's Evansville:

Map showing the location of Evansville, Indiana as positioned in the southwestern corner of the state of Indiana.
Evansville, Indiana.

The city of Evansville is situated right on the Ohio River. Evansville is sometimes called "Crescent Valley" or "River City"—which, now that I think about it, makes me wonder about an old game called River City Ransom.

Evansville itself has a pretty fascinating history, but we're here to learn more about...

The Story of Naomi Johnson

In the hot summer of 1955 in Evansville, Indiana, Mrs. Naomi Johnson took her three children and a friend named Mrs. Lamble to the Ohio River. They all hoped for refuge from the sweltering day in the cool river water. It was a popular place to visit for both locals and tourists alike.

Naomi and Mrs. Lamble headed into the relatively calm waters while the kids relaxed on the shore. Mrs. Lamble brought a big, black rubber inner tube because she wasn't a strong swimmer. Naomi, on the other hand, was perfectly comfortable in deep waters. They stayed close to shore, only venturing out about fifteen feet, and within minutes, something brushed Naomi's leg.

Without warning, Naomi felt a powerful grip around her knee. It felt like a giant, hairy, clawed hand was on her. It dragged her underwater as she kicked and screamed to escape its grasp while Mrs. Lamble watched in horror. Naomi somehow managed to break free, resurfacing and gasping for air. As she reached Mrs. Lamble's inner tube, the beast struck again, dragging Naomi underneath the murky water.

Mrs. Lamble screamed, paddling around in the water as she searched for Naomi. Again, Naomi managed to escape the beast's grasp and got her head above water. This time, she made it to Mrs. Lamble's inner tube, and when she grabbed it, a loud, rubbery thump echoed out. Evidently, the sound startled the creature into leaving the area.

The two struggled together and made it back to shore. Naomi's leg was covered in deep scratches when they finally emerged from the water, and bruises were already forming all over Naomi. The most bizarre finding on shore was that Naomi's leg had a large handprint stained green on her skin where the beast had grabbed her.

"Whatever this thing was, it had a strong grip and was very furry. All I know is that I will never go swimming in that river again."

— Naomi Johnson

Naomi went to the hospital for treatment, and her story was published in a local paper the next day. After it hit the papers, some other local residents came forward and claimed they'd seen a silver disk floating over the Ohio River in the same area that day.

That's where the story seemed to end, for a while, until the Johnson family came forward again a time later. They said that a colonel in the U.S. Air Force paid them a visit at their home and interviewed them all about Naomi's encounter. When the Colonel finished questioning the Johnsons, he told them in no uncertain terms to never speak to anyone of her encounter ever again.

Possible Explanations of the Green Clawed Beast of the Ohio River

It's a bit like a riddle, really. What's strong enough to drag an adult woman underwater, hangs out in the Ohio River, and leaves a green handprint on its attempted murder victims? Skeptics and cryptozoologists alike have come up with theories on it.

Let's take a look at a few possible explanations as to what the Green Clawed Beast of the Ohio River could have been, based on what we know from Naomi Johnson before it hunted her down and crawled its way up her toilet one night to make her disappear forever.

Possible Explanation: It's an Amphibious Reptilian Monster!


Interestingly, there's supposedly a "Native American" legend (isn't there always?) about a species of fish or lizard humanoids from a country called "Inzignanin". If you're wondering about this legend, you can read more about it from 1924 in MYTHS, LEGENDS, MIRACLES, AND MYSTERIES, RELATED BY THE FIRST HISTORIANS OF FLORIDA.

Possible Explanation: It's an Alien!

This is a theory that often comes up in these types of stories. It's not just the Green Clawed Beast of the Ohio River but everything from Bigfoot to the Loch Ness Monster. Personally, it seems like a cop-out similar to "it's an ancient Indian burial ground." It's easy to throw up your hands and say "Aliens" instead of putting in the work to try and find these pesky things called "facts."

Star of Ancient Aliens with a caption that reads: Bread goes in; toast comes out. Aliens!
I don't know, therefore, aliens.

Now, I'm all for declaring "aliens" if that's where the evidence points, but I simply fail to see anything relating to aliens here—especially when you start to think about why an intelligent extra-terrestrial would hide underwater and harass a woman in the 1950s, only to jump back in its spaceship and disappear, never to be seen again. I mean, I guess it's possible that it could have been the E.T. equivalent of ding-dong ditch—but there's not enough evidence to support a pattern of alien pranks.

Possible Explanation: It's a Furry...wait...

Hold on. Naomi described the hand as "furry." How many known aquatic animals have furry paws?

A picture of a very shocked looking beaver standing in water.
"Hol' up! You think I did it? Spoot...unbeaverlievable."

To actually feel a furry grip on your leg underwater, the hand/paw doing the gripping would have to be unusual compared to known species. Take, for instance, beavers. From what I can tell, they do, in fact, have fur on the inside of their paws, but it's very short. Now, keeping in mind that I've only had three beavers grab my leg underwater, it's hard to imagine that anything short of grizzly bear fur would be enough to feel while swimming for your life.

Possible Explanation: It's a Catfish or a Gar!

I don't know about you, but I have yet to meet a fish with fur. Granted, I haven't met all the fish, so I'd love an introduction if you are friends with any furry fish, especially ones with big furry paws.

Totally Unrelated

Before you continue reading, I'd like to point out that what I'm about to say has absolutely nothing to with the Green Clawed Beast of the Ohio River. I just thought I'd drop a bit of fun trivia here that 100% absolutely has nothing at all to do with anything relating to this strange story of Naomi Johnson from 1955 of an amphibious humanoid living in a river and stalking humans.

In 1954, a film titled Creature from the Black Lagoon was released about an amphibious humanoid living in a river and stalking humans. (I wrote about the design of the monster here.) After the film's release, there was an explosion of sightings of reptilian humanoids. Similarly, just after the film Jaws was released in 1975, there was an explosion of people claiming to have been attacked by sharks.



Relevant & Related