Beast of Busco

In Indiana folklore, the Beast of Busco is an enormous snapping turtle which citizens claimed to have seen in 1949. Despite a month-long hunt that briefly gained national attention, the "Beast of Busco" was never found.[1]

Beast of Busco
Sub groupingLake monster
CountryUnited States
RegionMaumee Valley,
Northern Indiana


In 1898, a farmer named Oscar Fulk claimed to have seen a giant turtle living in the seven-acre lake on his farm near Churubusco, Indiana. He told others about it, but eventually he decided to drop the matter.[2]

A half century later, in July 1948, two Churubusco citizens, Ora Blue and Charley Wilson, also reported seeing a huge turtle (weighing an estimated 500 pounds) while fishing on the same lake, which had come to be known as Fulk Lake. A farmer named Gale Harris owned the land at that time. Harris and others also reported seeing the creature. Word spread.[3]

In early 1949, a UPI reporter from Fort Wayne sent the story out on the wire services, and the turtle became nationally famous.[3]

Curious mobs of sightseers began to invade Harris’ land forcing state police to be called in for traffic control.[4]

After many doubted the existence of the turtle, Harris made several attempts to catch the beast, including draining the lake by pumping the water into an area sealed off by a dam with the help of Orville Bright and Kenneth Leitch only for the dam to break when the lake had almost been entirely drained.[5] But despite many attempts, "Oscar" (named after the original owner of the farm) was never captured.[3][2][6][7]

In March 1949, an attempt to send a deep-sea diver into the pond failed when the wrong equipment was delivered to the Harris farm.[8]

A photographer for Life Magazine, Mike Shea, took 299 photos at the site, but they were deemed unusable.[9]

Cultural impactEdit

Oscar's memory lives on in Churubusco's Turtle Days festival held each June.[10] It includes a parade, carnival and turtle races.[11]

A turtle shell labeled "Beast of Busco" hangs in the Two Brothers Restaurant in Decatur, Indiana.

A small concrete statue of a turtle sits on the sidewalk at the main intersection in the center of Churubusco.


  1. ^ The name "Beast of Busco" was coined by Cliff Milnor, a columnist for the Fort Wayne, Indiana, Journal-Gazette. Gutowski, John A. (1977). American Folklore and the Community Festival: A Case Study of Turtle Days in Churubusco, Indiana (Ph.D.). Indiana University. p. 74.
  2. ^ a b Ho, Oliver and Cochran, Josh (2008) "Mutants & Monsters: Mutants & Monsters". Sterling Publishing Company, Inc.. p.53 ISBN 978-1-4027-3642-1
  3. ^ a b c "The Beast of Busco". Unknown Explorers. May 26, 2009. Retrieved June 25, 2011.
  4. ^ Peterson, Victor (May 26, 2009). "The 1949 Story of the Hunt for Oscar, the Beast of Busco, According to the Indianapolis Star". Busco Voice. Retrieved June 25, 2011.
  5. ^ "Churubusco Farmer Pumping Water From Lake TO Catch His Giant Turtle". Warsaw Daily Times. September 14, 1949. Retrieved December 23, 2011.
  6. ^ Thomas, Phyllis (2007) "Indiana: Off the Beaten Path : a Guide to Unique Places". Globe Pequot. p.61 ISBN 0-7627-4414-6
  7. ^ Cavinder, Fred. D. (2003) "More Amazing Tales from Indiana". Indiana University Press. p.147 ISBN 0-253-21653-2
  8. ^ "Cumble gives turtle new lease on pond". Chicago Daily Tribune. March 18, 1949. Retrieved December 23, 2011.
  9. ^ Hyde, Sherree (6 August 2003). ""Inn" the news". Brigadoon Bed and Breakfast. Archived from the original on 25 September 2010.
  10. ^ Sisson, Richard (2007) "The American Midwest: An Interpretive Encyclopedia". Indiana University Press. p.402 ISBN 0-253-34886-2.
  11. ^ Dorson, Richard Mercer (1986) "Handbook of American Folklore". Indiana University Press. p.238 ISBN 0-253-20373-2.

External linksEdit