Swamps. Theyre wet, kinda grimy, kinda slimy, (Like Krako) and also scary. It doesnt take much imagination to paint a scary scene in a swamp. Just say its at night, on a full moon, and you hear the gators growling, an owl hooting, and a fetid breeze that wafts through the air, and boom presto you have a scary situation! Swamps have earned their reputation, from the silver screen and the Thing from the Black Lagoon, to tales of a bipedal half-man half-wolf roaming the swamps of Louisiana, these places have always been the backdrop for the mysterious, the supernatural and the downright terrifying. Today we are going to talk about something from an even more terrifying place…South Carolina. While this is namely due to Krako currently residing in that state, there are other, less friendly, beings that reside there. One of these creatures is the Lizard Man of Scape Ore Swamp. What is it, how did it get there, and more importantly why does it dislike cars so much? This and more we will explore on this evening.
Swamps. Theyre wet, kinda grimy, kinda slimy, (Like Krako) and also scary. It doesnt take much imagination to paint a scary scene in a swamp. Just say its at night, on a full moon, and you hear the gators growling, an owl hooting, and a fetid breeze that wafts through the air, and boom presto you have a scary situation! Swamps have earned their reputation, from the silver screen and the Thing from the Black Lagoon, to tales of a bipedal half-man half-wolf roaming the swamps of Louisiana, these places have always been the backdrop for the mysterious, the supernatural and the downright terrifying. Today we are going to talk about something from an even more terrifying place…South Carolina. While this is namely due to Krako currently residing in that state, there are other, less friendly, beings that reside there. One of these creatures is the Lizard Man of Scape Ore Swamp. What is it, how did it get there, and more importantly why does it dislike cars so much? This and more we will explore on this evening (or whatever time zone you’re in when you tune in)
Scape Ore Swamp is a basin that is 96 square miles or 214 square meters in area and is a tributary of the Pee Dee River. How the place got its name, supposedly no one is exactly sure, is during the Revolutionary War a group of Redcoats where uh, being entertained, by some local women and this gave the Revolutionary volunteers the opportunity they needed to ambush the soldiers. They captured the Redcoats and let the ladies escape into the surrounding terrain. The area was henceforth known as (Es)Scape(d) (Wh)Ore though with a few letters added. (Good luck with this Krako. Im just relaying the info I find)
The Lizard Man is said to be a bipedal lizard humanoid with green lizard-like skin, snakelike scales, red eyes and three fingers on each hand. It stands about 7 feet or 2.1 meters tall. His story begins in the little town of Bishopville, SC and the surrounding area. On the night of June 29th, 1988 a 17 year old boy named Christopher Davis was driving home from work after working the late shift at a fast food joint. On the way his car got a flat tire (bummer dude) and got out to fix it. He did so without any issue but as he was getting back in his car he saw a figure coming out of the treeline on the other side of the road and began coming towards him. Davis bolted into his car and began to drive off but the person or thing JUMPED ONTO HIS CAR. The young man slammed on his brakes, causing the creature to fly off the roof of his car, and Davis was able to make a get away. Not before the thing damaged his car however, it took off one of the car mirrors and gouged the top of the car. Davis kept quiet about this encounter, fearing he’d be called a lunatic, until about 2 weeks later when he heard of a car, Ford LTD for you car people out there, with its fenders ripped off, the antenna bent, wiring had been ripped out, deep scratches along the body, and the chrome trim had seemingly been chewed off. In the summer of 1988, twelve more people claimed to see the Lizard Man of Scape Ore Swamp. Some people were chased by the creature and others were slowly being followed until the creature was spotted and ran away. There were also more reports of mutilated cars. On July 24, four teenagers on a double date saw a massive looking thing run across the road about 20 feet in front of them. A bicyclist was chased away from a drinking well near a public road that summer as well. Shortly after receiving this initial report, the police received several more reports of howling and screeching coming from the same area. Officers were dispatched to the area and discovered three 40-gallon cardboard drums smashed and scattered all over the road. (Card board fiber drums are basically a paper towel roll but much bigger with steel caps on either end and are commonly used to store semi-solids and solids, such as sand, powders or spices, but if they’re fitted with waterproof drum liners, they can also be used to store liquids.) Several trees also had their tops torn off about 8 feet off the ground. There were also more three-toed footprints measuring 14 inches long by 7 inches wide that followed a trail almost 900 feet into the swamp itself. The police took castings of the footprints and they are still on display at the South Carolina Cotton Museum in Bishopville.
On August 5 Kenneth Orr, an airman stationed at Shaw Air Force Base, filed a report with the police saying that he had encountered the Lizard Man on highway 15, and that he had shot and wounded it. He presented several scales, which were fish scales as identified by Sheriff Truesdale, and a small quantity of blood as evidence. Orr recanted this account two days later when he was arraigned for unlawfully carrying a pistol, Sheriff Truesdale specifically slapped Orr with this one for trying to fool him into thinking the fish scales were anything but, and the misdemeanor offense of filing a false police report. According to Orr, he had invented the sighting in order to keep stories about the Lizard Man in circulation. Talk about a wild summer!! However, as the cold and windy weather of fall began to emerge the sightings of the creature slowly dwindled into nothing.
Since 1988 there have been a few scattered mentions of the Lizard Man.
In 2008, CNN mentioned the Lizard Man legend in a story about a couple in Bishopville who reported damage to their vehicle, including blood traces. The blood traces were subsequently found to be from a domestic dog, though the local sheriff suggested it might have been a coyote or wolf.
In 2015, local television station WCIV featured photos and videos claimed to be Lizard Man, allegedly taken by Jim Wilson and other unidentified individuals. I believe this is the one where Lizard Boi looks like he is in a Rubber suit. Steven Colbert even had the clips and photos on his show.
In August 2017, the South Carolina Emergency Management Division sent a humorous tweet “regarding possible paranormal activity” during the solar eclipse that passed over the area, hinting that people of Lee and Sumter counties should “remain vigilant” for sightings of the Lizard Man.
Now for some history. I found mention of a Creek Nations story in one of the articles about a large lizard, however as far as I am aware the Muscogee Creek Nation never extended as far as the Bishopville area so…I didnt include the story here as, to me, it’s not very honest or credible to tie this story of Lizard Man to the Creek Nations.
Other interesting things to note about the actual initial investigations of the Lizard Man in 1988. The then Sheriff Truesdale, took everything rather seriously, albeit with a sense of humor. This man was quite the character. He threatened to prosecute anyone who filed a false police report about the creature, which he did when Orr tried to pawn off fish scales as Lizardman scales! Truesdale actually cared and was concerned for the people who saw this thing, whatever it was, and this was namely due to the witnesses being people he knew were credible. This made him a point of interest to the media, and he played the part. He stayed up late talking to news reporters from London and Australia, and stated he couldnt do any police work till after 12 midnight due to the amount of calls he was getting. He was worn so thin that he had even fallen asleep during a interview with the Detroit Free Press! However, he continued on and said the press needed to know what was going on. It wasnt just Lee County’s news, but the worlds. Even as news reached him in the 2015 about the sightings and pictures he was not happy but upset. He was bedridden and couldnt go check on the witnesses, and make sure they were ok and heard. He died about a week later on August 7th 2015. His niece, he and his wife never had kids, Abbie Denny, carries on his legacy by keeping his memory alive by continuing to talk about the Lizard Man, and her Uncles involvement in the case.
Then there is the story of Lucius Elmore. His nephew, Harry Elmore, opened up a restaurant named after himself and his father, across from his uncles old butterbean barn. It is here the legend originates that Lucius was tired of his air conditioners being stolen from the windows of the barn and, being a jokester, sewed butterbean shells to some of the burlap sacks he put the beans in after they had dried and began scaring potential robbers from his property, a regular scooby doo villain! It’s said he started doing this around the time the Lizard Man was being seen. Apparently it worked as no one wanted to steal air conditioners with a Lizard Man lurking around! Harry, however, insists that he doesnt know if the story is true or not. His uncle might have been a jokester but he doubts his uncle was crafty enough to come up with the costume. Harry says that his uncle never gave him a straight answer and took the secret on whether or not he did the practical joke to the grave. In the end his infamy fused to him within the community as at his funeral his pastor said “I have buried many men, but I have never buried a Lizard Man.” (This whole thing is right up Krako’s alley)
Now we get to the less fun part. There is no concrete evidence of the Lizard Man. Davis, the 17 year old, who saw the monster switched details around when asked about his experience. Others who came forward were ridiculed and berated. The cars seem to be mauled by a large creature, but experts seem to think it was a bear living in the swamp who eventually moved on, which isnt uncommon if they get pushed out of their habitats by housing developments and such. When held to the light of scrutiny the whole thing kind of falls apart, unfortunately. However there is hope.
In 2018 a man named Robert Howell started a little thing called the Lizard Man Stomp. A festival that celebrates the Lizard Man as well as local heritage and the strange and spooky. It has been running since and will be held again on June 24th of this year. So if youre in the area (KRAKO) then you should turn up and see whats going on! Dont forget to stop by the South Carolina Cotton Museum as well as the Button King’s house! The Legend of the Lizard Man is alive and well in Bishopville, SC, and I hope it stays that way for a loooooooong time!