Showing posts with the label Legend

Chief Reelfoot and Laughing Eyes

According to legend, Reelfoot Lake was created when the Great Spirit caused an earthquake to punish Chickasaw Chief Reelfoot for kidnapping Laughing Eyes and making her his wife. Laughing Eye's father had previously rejected Reelfoot's proposal becuase he did not want his daughter marrying a deformed chief; for Reelfoot had a club foot.

These concrete statues of Reelfoot and Laughing Eyes sat at the entrance of Magnolia Beach on the Washout at Lake Reelfoot from 1955 through 1994. They now sit in front of Brooks Shaw's Old County Store in Jackson, Tennessee.

Casey Jones

Casey Jones Home & Railroad Museum

On 30 April 1900, railroad engineer Jonathan Luther "Casey" Jones died while trying to stop his passenger train before it collided with a disabled freight train. When they saw the lights of the stopped train's caboose, the fireman jumped and Casey stayed on board to slow the train. Casey failed to avoid a collision but was able to slow the train enough to keep his cars upright and his passengers alive. The IC Railroad's official report blamed Casey for the wreck: claiming that he disregarded the freight train's flagman's warnings of the stopped train ahead. However, other reports suggest that the flagman was in a place in which he could not have been seen in time to avoid a collision. Casey became legend and hero after his friend Wallace Saunders immortalized him in song: The Ballad of Casey Jones.

Casey's home at the time of his death is now a museum with exhibits about Casey and railroads.

Herr Gessler

On the corner of Main Street and Otsego Avenue in Gaylord, Michigan, stands a statue of Herr Gessler -- the evil 14th century Swiss ruler assassinated by William Tell

According to legend, Gessler hung his hat in the town square and demanded that the townsfolk bow before the hat.  William Tell and his young son refused to bow to the hat, and were arrested. Gessler told Tell that he and his son would be spared from execution if Tell would shoot an apple off the head of his son. Tell accepted the challenge and split the apple with an arrow from his crossbow.

The legend claims that Tell later killed Gessler and took his place as ruler. However, the townfolk of Gaylord, Michigan, disagree. They claim that Gessler escaped to Gaylord and now tries to ruin their annual Alpenfest by demanding people bow to his hat.

A 1500 pound statue of Gessler carved from a cottonwood tree

Ben and Sophia refuse to bow to the hat

Herr Gessler refused to smile for a photo


The town of Rhinelander, Wisconsin, is the home of the Hodag -- a mythical creature on which they blame most bad that happens. Hodags are everywhere!

Piasa Park

In 1673, Father Jacques Marquette saw a pictograph of dragon on a limestone bluff overlooking the Mississippi River
"While skirting some rocks, which by their height and length inspired awe, we saw upon one of them two painted monsters which at first made us afraid, and upon which the boldest savages dare not long rest their eyes. They are as large as a calf; they have horns on their heads like those of a deer, a horrible look, red eyes, a beard like a tiger's, a face somewhat like a man's, a body covered with scales, and so long a tail that it winds all around the body, passing above the head and going back between the legs, ending in a fish's tail. Green, red, and black are the three colors composing the picture."
 -  Father Jacques Marquette, 1675

The mural seen by Father Marquette no longer exists, but a much newer painting of a Piasa Bird now looks over the Mississippi River from Piasa Park, upstream from Alton, Illinois.

In 1836, college professor John Russell published an article claiming rhe Piasa Bird was a man-eating dragon that terrorized locals until their chief bravely risked his own life to kill the monster. Whether the legend was fabricated by Russell or handed down by natives, it makes a nice story and helps attract tourists to the Alton area.