As far as history records, Rutherford B. Hayes never encountered the Lake Erie Monster or the Loveland Frog. But Hayes, an Ohio native, also was the 19th President of the United States, so who knows what top-secret cryptozoological information was at his disposal? (Hollywood, feel free to call me for the movie treatment.)
In any case, although Hayes has nothing at all to do with it (or so the authorities would have us believe), the Hayes Presidential Library and Museums in Fremont is the unlikely location of a new exhibit making its debut at the end of the month called “Ohio: An Unnatural History.”
The exhibit, which will open Feb. 28, explores stories and myths of strange creatures purported to roam the Buckeye State, from prehistoric Indian lore to urban legends of today.
Featured is artwork by Dan Chudzinski, curator of the Mazza Museum at the University of Findlay. Chudzinski also is an artist and has consulted on creature-centric movies and other projects. On display are sculptures and life-sized cutouts of creatures he has created over many years.
Visitors will meet many Ohio legends.
Also known as Bessie, the Lake Erie Monster is a sea serpent reported for centuries by sailors and beachgoers, most of whom had not been partying all night at Put-in-Bay.
The Loveland Frog is a 4-foot-tall amphibian/human first reported in 1972 which, coincidentally, was when a lot of people were discovering LSD.
Other featured creatures include Grassman, allegedly a close relative of Bigfoot; a half-man, half-dog that terrorized Defiance in 1972 (that year again); and a headless motorcycle rider who has been scaring teens near Oak Harbor for decades.
As a companion program, local historian Mike Gilbert will appear at 2 p.m. March 22 to share stories and research about legends of giants that once roamed the Earth. Tickets for Gilbert’s program, based on Biblical texts and historical records, cost $5 and are available in advance or at the door, if not sold out.
Museum admission is $13, or $10 for teens 13 to 18 and $5 for children 6 to 12. Admission to “Ohio: An Unnatural History,” is included with museum admission. Tours of the Hayes home are available at additional cost.
For more information, call 419-332-2081 or visit rbhayes.org.
Steve Stephens is the Dispatch travel writer. Email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @SteveStephens