Half a century ago, Belgian Zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans first codified cryptozoology in his book On the Track of Unknown Animals.

The Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ) are still on the track, and have been since 1992. But as if chasing unknown animals wasn't enough, we are involved in education, conservation, and good old-fashioned natural history! We already have three journals, the largest cryptozoological publishing house in the world, CFZtv, and the largest cryptozoological conference in the English-speaking world, but in January 2009 someone suggested that we started a daily online magazine! The CFZ bloggo is a collaborative effort by a coalition of members, friends, and supporters of the CFZ, and covers all the subjects with which we deal, with a smattering of music, high strangeness and surreal humour to make up the mix.

It is edited by CFZ Director Jon Downes, and subbed by the lovely Lizzy Bitakara'mire (formerly Clancy), scourge of improper syntax. The daily newsblog is edited by Corinna Downes, head administratrix of the CFZ, and the indexing is done by Lee Canty and Kathy Imbriani. There is regular news from the CFZ Mystery Cat study group, and regular fortean bird news from 'The Watcher of the Skies'. Regular bloggers include Dr Karl Shuker, Dale Drinnon, Richard Muirhead and Richard Freeman.The CFZ bloggo is updated daily, and there's nothing quite like it anywhere else. Come and join us...

Search This Blog



Click on this logo to find out more about helping CFZtv and getting some smashing rewards...


Sunday, December 06, 2009


Today I`m going to focus on Oscar, the Beast of Busco; a giant snapping turtle that inhabited a lake in Churubusco, Indiana in 1949. 'Despite a month-long hunt that briefly gained national attention, the Beast of Busco was never found.' (1).

July 27, 1948

'Ora Blue and Charley Wilson, brothers-in-law of Gale Harris, had their fishing rudely interrupted by Oscar, who suddenly surfaced along side of their row boat. They said his back was bigger than the boat and his head the size of a child`s.' (Oscar Fulk, the original owner of the property, reported seeing the turtle 50 years ago) (2).

'First week of March,1949. Oscar was seen again, and this time a group of townspeople sought out to capture him. According to Harris and newspaper reports, they actually had the turtle trapped in about ten feet of water off the shore in a trap consisting of stakes and chicken wire but Oscar was too strong and broke out. But at this time a man named Del Winegardner climbed up a tree and took films of Oscar. Merl Leitch and Dally Fogle both claim they saw the turtle in the film (though not in person), that it was clearly visible just beneath the water level and was every bit as big as Blue and Wilson claimed. Unfortunately, the film, along with photographs taken by Dailey Fogel, are not available. Mr Winegardner sold the film four years ago.' (3)

March 11 1949

'O. E. Jones, Churubusco, former owner of the farm, said some fellows had told him about a big turtle. "I said it was my Black Angus cow swimming around,” he had replied. Tracks extending 10 to 15 feet were found in the mud.' (4)

End of March

'Four hundred autos an hour snakes there way along the highway to the farm. Letters arrived addressed simply, "Turtle Town, USA." Profssional trappers from Tennessee were called in. More divers went under. All these efforts were greatly hindered by the cold and icy March weather. Most observers theorized that Oscar was hibernating in the soft, mushy lake bottom. The town of Syracuse, IN, the site of Lake Wawasee resident and Harris had somehow lured him away into his lake!' (5)

March 19 1949

'The Harris family began selling coffee and hot dogs. Diver Rigsby went down, but the helmet leaked, so he came back up. The search was called off.' (6)

The hunt for Oscar continued through 1949 with various ingenious methods for trying to capture him/her (such as draining the lake) but to not avail. However:

'October 13th 1949 And Oscar didn`t disappoint them [the onlookers]. On a Sunday morning, in plain view of 200 people, he put on his most spectacular show when he leaped out of the water to feast on the live ducks set a top a trap.' (7)

'Finally, October 21st 1949. But this was the last show, for Gale Harris began to run into problems. The soft, mushy bottom presented problems. It started caving in, greatly reducing the amount of pumping they could do. The pump wore out. Eventually the tractor broke down. To supplement the worn out machinery (and men) a 17 foot crane was brought in. A reporter from a Chicago paper fell into one of the crevices and almost drowned. For two months they pumped and struggled, and in December it was all over. Harris had an attack of appendicitis and when he got out of the hospital, rain had filled up the lake.' (8)

Wikipedia has this to say about cultural impact: 'Oscar`s memory lives on in Churubusco`s Turtle Days festival held each June. It includes a parade, carnival and turtle races. A turtle shell labelled “Beast of Busco” hangs in the Two Brothers Restaurant in Decatur, Indiana.' (9)

1. Wikipedia Beast of Busco http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beast_of_Busco
2. Churubusco Chamber of Commerce “Oscar The Beast of Busco” p.2
3. Ibid p.2
4. Ibid p.2
5. Ibid. p.3
6. Ibid. p.4
7. Ibid p.4
8. Ibid p.4
9. Wikipedia op cit.

Devo Blockhead

Never leaves a gap
Always pays on time
Always fits the bill
He comes well prepared
Cube top
Squared off
Eight corners
90 degree angles
Flat top
Stares straight ahead
Stock parts
Never tips over
Stands up on his own
He is a blockhead
Thinking man full grown


Dale Drinnon said...

I live in Indiana. Scuttlebutt about Oscar is that there really was a turtle, probably an alligator snapper, but it was a plant, presumably by the property's owner. The area is outside of the alligator snapping turtle's usual range. There are other ones living there NOW, brought in in memory of the Beast of Busco. No big deal, really.

Lanette said...

Hunting for an alligator snapper is one of the last things I would want to do, have caught too many while fishing for catfish and even the ones a foot in diameter are awful to handle. I would rather handle the last anaconda I had to confiscate.