Beast of Busco

The Beast of Busco is the subject of a legend in Churubusco, Indiana, about 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]


The story starts in 1898, when a farmer named Oscar Fulk supposedly saw a giant turtle living in the seven-acre lake on his farm near Churubusco. He told others about it, but eventually he decided to leave it alone.[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. Traffic got so bad that the state police had to be called in for traffic control.[4]

People questioned the existence of the turtle. To vindicate his good name, Harris made several attempts to catch the beast, including draining the lake with the help of Orville Bright and Kenneth Leitch.[5] But "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] However, dozens of photos related to the history of the Beast are archived for viewing on the Web site of the Indianapolis Star.

Cultural impact

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. 1 2 Ho, Oliver and Cochran, Josh (2008) "Mutants & Monsters: Mutants & Monsters". Sterling Publishing Company, Inc.. p.53 ISBN 978-1-4027-3642-1
  3. 1 2 3 "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 19 September 2016.
  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 links

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