Discovering The Hodag In Rhinelander

We decided to go through Rhinelander, Wisconsin, so we could see the legendary Hodag. Up until this past weekend, I’d only seen a Hodag on a t-shirt (and that was back in high school), so I was excited to see the dangerous beast with noxious gas and big teeth…

The Hodag first appeared in the logging town in 1893 and was described has having “the head of a frog, the grinning face of a giant elephant, thick short legs set off by huge claws, the back of a dinosaur, and a long tail with spears at the end”. In 1896, Eugene Shepard said he caught the creature alive! This created such a stir that someone from the Smithsonian was going to come see it — causing Shepard to confess his Hodag was a stuffed and mounted gaff, moved with wires.

Finding a Hodag to pose by in Rhinelander wasn’t easy as we’d thought; GPS couldn’t track it. Not the way we came into town, anyway. So our first stop was the logging museum at the Pioneer Park Historical Complex. There we saw, and had the kiddies pose with a smaller Hodag statue.

And this old stuffed mounted Hodag looks a lot like Shepard’s… But there was no plaque or info near it. *heavy sigh*

We wandered around a bit, took some photos (visiting the museum is free!), but will post those later. Thanks to help from a young man working at the Soo Line Depot museum and model railroad display (also in the complex), we found “The Hodag” to pose with stands at the Rhinelander Area Chamber of Commerce, 450 West Kemp Street. (Sadly, their Hodag info page is lacking.)

Here’s my homage to the films my dad made of my sister and I when we were young… It’s my directorial debut, featuring Hunter, Maddie, and Mr. Oliver T. Puddington, the basset hound. The old super eight home movies were sans sound, so dad’s direction was less obvious than mine.

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