Cryptid Profile: Ogua
The Monongahela River, a 130mi long river that runs between both West Virginia and Pennsylvania, has long had legends of strange aquatic beasts associated with it. Much like any large body of water within North America, the Monongahela (often times referred to as “The Mon”) is said to have a resident monster dwelling beneath its surface. Its name is Ogua.
While native tribes in the area had long known about the large aquatic beast living within the river, European settlers to Pennsylvania and West Virginia had to learn about it from stories and legends. The native peoples would warn settlers not to venture to close to the water’s edge as the large, powerful jaws of the Ogua were more than capable of plucking a victim off the shore and dragging them back down beneath the surface of the water. The beast was often thought to drown its victims first and store the bodies in its den, only to devour them later when the time was right.
Even though Ogua is typically described in the same way as most other river monsters (often seen as a dark shape below the water, churns the surface, knocks over canoes, pulls down animals floating on the surface, etc.), it does differ from its other monstrous aquatic cousins in one unique way, it is also able to survive on land. The aggressive creature was described as not having flippers or fins, but four stubby little legs instead. As previously mentioned above, the Ogua was said to be able to strike fast at potential prey on the shore, but if for some reason it missed, it would quickly dart out of the water chasing its desired dinner until caught. The beast would then either carry or drag its victims body back into the river where it would store it for later under the surface. Its long thick tail would drag on the ground the entire way back to the water, often times creating deep slide marks in the loose earth. Stories of the Ogua describe it as being reddish-brown in color, almost turtle-like in appearance, nearly 20ft long and roughly 500lbs.
Many researchers believe that legends of the Ogua could have started after local tribes came across a possible rogue alligator that had made its way up the Mississippi, into the Ohio River, and eventually into The Mon. This theory would explain the stories of animals and even people being snatched off the shore, drowned, and stored away for later in a den. It would also explain the slide marks leading from the water into the dirt and vice versa. Besides, phantom alligator sightings have long occurred in many northern states throughout history and still do to this day, so this theory isn’t as far-fetched as one might think. Other researchers though believe that a larger than normal alligator snapping turtle is to blame for the stories and legends. This would explain the turtle-like appearance that Ogua is said to have, as well as the aggressive nature, carnivorous appetite, and reddish-brown skin. Is this theory also plausible? Yes it is. While normally found down south, alligator snapping turtles can be found as far north as Maine and survive just as well (albeit moving much slower and staying out of sight in the colder months).
So, what do you think Ogua is/was? Could it have been a rogue alligator that made its way a bit farther north than usual, a larger than normal alligator snapping turtle, or was it truly an overly aggressive monster hungry for human flesh? We believe the best way to find out would be to take a trip to either West Virginia or Pennsylvania, jump feet first into The Mon, and splash around wildly in hopes of attracting the beast itself. Only once you are face to face with the mystery monster will you truly be able to tell everyone what it is. But that all depends on how fast you can swim of course.
-The Pine Barrens Institute
*Image Credit: Google