Beast of Busco

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

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]


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 impact[edit]

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. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  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. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ "Churubusco Farmer Pumping Water From Lake TO Catch His Giant Turtle". Warsaw Daily Times. September 14, 1949. Retrieved December 23, 2011. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  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. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  9. ^ Hyde, Sherree (6 August 2003). ""Inn" the news". Brigadoon Bed and Breakfast. Archived from the original on 25 September 2010. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  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[edit]