Many towns across the U.S. have their own urban legends, ranging from a haunted building to a mysterious creature, such as the Mothman legend of Point Pleasant, West Virginia. The town of Loveland, Ohio, also has an urban legend of its own, regarding strange frog-like creatures known as the Loveland Frogmen.
There are two main sightings which contributed to the legend of the Frogmen. The first sighting was around 1 a.m., March 3, 1972 when police officer Ray Shockey was driving on Loveland by Riverside Road. As he was driving on the cold, clear night, Shockey thought he saw a dog in a field by Twightwee Road. Instead, the creature stood up and looked at Shockey for a moment before turning and leaping over a guardrail. The creature then went down an embankment and into the Little Miami River before Shockey lost sight of it.
Shockey described the creature as weighing sixty pounds, standing about three to four feet tall and possessing leathery skin and a face like a frog or lizard. Shockey went to the police station and brought fellow officer Mark Matthews to the site in order to search for evidence of the creature, although they only found scrape marks leading down the side of the embankment near the river.
Officer Matthews would go on to have his own encounter with the creature, as later on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, Matthews was driving outside Loveland when he saw what he thought was an animal lying in the middle of the road. When Matthews opened the squeaky door on his police car as he prepared to remove a presumably dead body from the road, the creature suddenly got into a crouching position, hobbled to the guardrail and lifted its leg over the rail. Matthews tried to shoot the creature with his revolver but missed, and the creature managed to get away. However, Matthews said the creature seemed to stand upright more than in Shockey’s description.
There were other sporadic sightings of the so-called Loveland Frogmen, including a farmer who said he saw a large frog-like or lizard-like creature the same month as Shockey’s and Matthews’ sightings. Shockey’s sister even drew a sketch of the creature reported by the police officers, which both Shockey and Matthews described as being accurate.
Another sighting is alleged to be the “first” actual encounter with the Frogmen, although it is less reliable than the Shockey and Matthews sightings and is often told in three different versions.
In the early summer of 1955, possibly May, an unnamed businessman saw three creatures by the side of the road, and that they were three to four feet tall with leathery skin. The businessman said the creatures were standing totally erect with heads in the shape and faces of frogs. Other versions of the story place the three creatures as sitting on a bridge while others place the creatures under the bridge, although the lack of a specific road or bridge makes it difficult to verify the sighting. However, one of the creatures is described as holding a metallic silver cylinder like a wand, and that when the creature held the wand over its head the device began to emit strange flashes, sparks, or pulses of light. Upon seeing this device, the businessman fled for his safety.
The Loveland Frogmen were rarely seen outside of those encounters, although a recent sighting on Aug. 3, 2016 occurred when a young couple was playing the mobile game Pokemon Go! Allegedly, the two were walking between Loveland Madeira Road and Lake Isabella when Sam Jacobs and his girlfriend saw what they thought was a huge frog near the water, which was about four feet tall and walked on its hind legs. Jacobs managed to take some photos and a video, though it wasn’t until the couple returned to the girlfriend’s house that they were told the legend of the Loveland Frogmen.
Oddly enough, the Twightwee and Shawnee tribes had legends of similar creatures called Shawnahooc, or river demon. The creature was described as a large reptile which could stand on its hind legs and lived specifically on the banks of the Little Miami River. Supposedly, when the Indians were driven from the land by the encroaching settlers, the creatures returned to the river.
Based on these reports, the creatures described seem to be more in line with cryptids such as Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster, which are theorized to be some kind of animal species which hasn’t been officially documented yet. As is the case with most cryptids however, the issue arises as to how something as large and apparently numerous as the Frogmen could exist in a populated area without prior discovery, unless the Indian legends were referring to the same creatures. In most sightings, the Frogmen quickly run away after being spotted, further suggesting that if they are real and are merely animals, then they are extremely wary of human presence.
However, the 1955 sighting portrays the Loveland Frogmen as if they were extraterrestrials instead of cryptids, if the wand-like object is an indicator of advanced technology. This seems to directly conflict with the other more verifiable sightings wherein the Frogmen show no signs of any kind of technological advancement. However, unlike the Mothman cryptid, the sightings of the Loveland Frogmen were not accompanied by reports of UFO’s or Men in Black (such as Indrid Cold), suggesting the Frogmen, if they do exist, would be undiscovered creatures instead of extraterrestrials.
Unfortunately, reporting their encounters with the Loveland Frogmen did not end up well for Shockey and Matthews. A local businessman who asked to remain anonymous in a 1985 newspaper story said:
“Those two officers took a lot of flack about the sighting back then. People made fun of them and the city.”
In 1999 during a local media interview, Matthews even went on to say he was tired of talking about the Loveland Frogmen and claimed the creature he had seen was an “iguana.” Some skeptics see this as Matthews coming clean about the entire ordeal being a hoax, although locals and others maintain that Matthews is merely tired of all the stories and repeatedly being questioned about the event.
So what were the Loveland Frogmen, and did they even exist? Only a few sightings could be verified, and one witness later changed his story for unknown reasons. If these creatures are so large, why have they hardly been spotted? Like many cryptids there is no easy answer, although it is odd that the creatures were reported about 40 years after the last sighting by two people who were allegedly unaware with the urban legend.