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Odd Wisconsin Archive

Horrible Monsters That Devour Men


Father Jacques Marquette was in the prime of life 334 years ago this week as he made his way down the west shore of Green Bay. With him was Louis Joliet, a young trader with "the courage to dread nothing where everything is to be feared." The pair was on their way to discover whether the Mississippi River went south to the Gulf of Mexico or west to the Pacific Ocean.

In the last week of May, 1673, they stopped near Marinette to consult the Menominee Indians about their plan to search for a great river to the south or west. Their hosts "did their best to dissuade" them by saying that "the great river was full of horrible monsters, which devoured men and canoes together; that there was even a demon, who was heard from a great distance, who barred the way, and swallowed up all who ventured to approach him."

See why they pressed on anyway, and read about the monster they actually did encounter "with the head of a tiger, a sharp nose like that of a wildcat, with whiskers and straight, erect ears" in our American Journeys online collection. You can also follow their progress on our Historic Diaries pages, which includes notes, comments, and excerpts from other early accounts of Wisconsin and the Mississippi Valley.
:: Posted in Animals on May 20, 2007

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