The Sister Lake Monster - Cass County, Michigan 1964
Summer of the Sasquatch
During the summer of '64 residents of the neighborhood around Cass County's Sister Lakes looked over their shoulders in the gathering gloom
by Lane Wick - Hometown Gazette
CASSOPOLIS - Even today, former Cass County Sheriff Paul Parrish says it was one of the strangest times in his 33 years of southwestern Michigan law enforcement.
"We investigated it long and hard" Parrish says, "but we were never able to come up with whatever it was. But some good, honest, legitimate people" reported it.
The "it" was the elusive and storied Sister Lakes Monster, a huge hulking thing that supposedly wandered the northwestern Cass County area (north of Dowagiac, south of Keeler) near Dewey Lake in the mid-1960s.
Parrish was a Cass County road patrol sergeant at the time. "There were big footprints" Parrish says. "A lot bigger than normal. We took plaster casts of them, but they were in sandy soil and not very clear."
Monster mania, or something like that, hit the Sister Lakes area in June of 1964 when at least one family reported the beast roaming at dark on several occasions behind their house. Dogs that normally charge intruders instead cowered by the house. Strangely, one dog that ran at the intruding beast was struck temporarily blind in one eye, it was said.
There had been similar "monster" reports in the area for several years according to news accounts of the time, but the 1964 reports set off a blitzkrieg of reporters, curiosity seekers and, more worrisome, heavily armed monster hunters. People swarmed the area.
Parrish remembers that, as newspaper and radio reports told of the monster, carloads of people began cruising the Dewey Lake area at night. Some were armed with "big deer rifles" he said. The sheriff's department set up roadblocks to divert traffic away.
"People were quite upset" Parrish says. "We tried to get to the bottom of it. We spent the whole summer on stakeouts and follow-ups, but we never nailed it down. It was a weird thing."
Descriptions of the monster varied, Parrish says. Some reported a huge hairy beast with glowing eyes. Others said they saw no eyes. Some said the creature had long arms.
Yellowed Kalamazoo Gazette news clippings from June 11, 1964, describe a night of Cass County sheriff's patrols with deputies chasing off the curious and patrolling with spotlights in search of the monster. "Whatever it is" a deputy said then, "it's supposed to have eyes that are big, bright,.....and high."
In another Gazette article that day, a man said he actually saw the monster and "it's eyes shone like those of an animal with night vision." The man's wife reported that one night she stepped outside her back door and heard the "thing" out in the dark, approaching her. She said the ground "rumbled" from it's weight.
Not everyone took the monster reports seriously. People chided each other that, if they weren't careful "Bigfoot will get you", Parrish recalls. For a while a local restaurant offered Monster Burgers. In a possible tongue-in-cheek move, local skin divers offered to explore the depths of the nearby lake for monster clues.
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