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Encyclopedia Of Arkansas Minute: Gowrow

On January 31st, 1897, the Arkansas Gazette reported on a “horrible monster” terrorizing Searcy County.

Called the gowrow based on its horrifying roar, the beast had been slaughtering cattle until a posse tracked it to its cave, littered with human and animal remains, and killed the beast with several volleys of rifle fire, but not before the twenty-foot long, fearsomely tusked gowrow ripped the leg from a posse member.

Folklorist Vance Randolph documented tales of gowrows dating to the 1880s, claiming the species was born from soft-shelled eggs the size of beer kegs and recounting a spelunker’s encounter with the beast in Boone County’s Devil’s Hole cave.

A Mena man claimed to have captured a gowrow and would offer to exhibit it for a quarter a pop, but would stagger from behind a curtain in torn clothing and claim the beast had escaped when it came time to show it.

Gazette editor Fred Allsopp was likely correct when he wrote “It was a great fake, probably without foundation in fact.” To learn more, visit the Encyclopedia of Arkansas.

Mark Christ produces and hosts Encyclopedia of Arkansas Minute on KUAR. He is head of adult programming for the Central Arkansas Library System. He previously served as community outreach director for the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, which he joined in 1990 after eight years as a journalist.