Lore and Legends
Mysteries of the Wood River Valley
ILLUSTRATIONS Michael Wertz
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WILD MAN OF CAMAS PRAIRIE—YOU MAY BE NEXT!
For years, the rarely timorous denizens of the Wood River Valley and the Camas Prairie lived in mortal dread of a being so large, so loathsome, so cruel, that adult men slept with their lanterns blazing and fierce watchdogs cowered behind iron stoves. No one was safe. The Camas Wild Man was afoot!
Newspapers, including those as far away as Chicago and New York, quoted witnesses who said the Wild Man wore a beard two-and-a-half-feet long. His muscular body was covered with a two-inch-thick mat of hair. His finger and toe nails were long, at least two inches, and resembled claws. Whispered conversation reported he lived primarily on snakes and over the years had abducted a couple of innocent maidens, ensuring a fate worse than death. These horrific stories, whispered in the finest drawing rooms of the Valley, sent delicate women lurching for their swoon couches. All piety and decency and life itself were vulnerable to this demented feral beast.
Finally, justice prevailed. The Bellevue Sun reported in 1883 that a traveler named Mickelhenny was hunting in the prairie for ducks with a double-barreled shotgun. Suddenly, the Camas Wild Man leapt from behind some greenery.
Mickelhenny, no whimpering fool, dropped the Wild Man with both barrels. Mickelhenny’s colleagues came running. But the Wild Man was NOT dead. He rose and started to flee. Just as the Wild Man turned to look back at his tormentors, one of the men hurled a hatchet at him. The hatchet cleaved his forehead, and, this time, the Wild Man fell dead.
“Thus ends the life of a mysterious being,” reported The Bellevue Sun.