The Beast of Busco

A monster of sorts has left its mark on the community of Churubusco, Indiana, a small town approximately 15 miles north of Fort Wayne. Fulk Lake, a small lake nearby, is where the Beast of Busco revealed himself to the world in the late 1940s.
The Beast of Busco is much different than the serpentine beasts thought to inhabit various lakes throughout North America. This creature is said to be an enormous turtle, probably an alligator snapping turtle—of colossal proportions. The legendary beast is also called Oscar, a name jokingly assigned by a Fort Wayne newspaper in the late 1940s. Oscar was probably named after Oscar Fulk, who once owned the property where the small, seven acre lake is located. Fulk was the first to see the giant, claiming to have seen a “prehistoric turtle” in his lake in 1898.
Mass Hysteria
The town of Churubusco was firmly in the grip of mass hysteria in the spring and summer of 1949. Earlier in the year, Gale Harris, who owned Fulk Lake, saw a giant turtle in the water; according to him, it was as “big as a dining room table.” Harris estimated the turtle’s weight to be between 400 and 500 pounds. Other reports describe the Beast of Busco being as large as the top of a car, with a head the size of a human child’s, and a stove pipe-sized neck.
After seeing the turtle in March, Harris was convinced by some of the townsfolk to try and capture the turtle. A local newspaper reported that Harris nearly caught the beast in about 10 feet of water with a trap made of chicken wire. The wily turtle escaped Harris’ clutches; but in the process, it drew much attention to itself. A newspaper from Columbus ran a story about the hunt for the turtle, and shortly thereafter newspaper reporters began to show up on the Harris property hoping to witness the hunt firsthand.
Not long after reporters began making their way to the Harris farm, throngs of people began showing up too. “The neighborhood just went crazy,” said Jim Guiff, a farmer who was 37 years old when the hunt for the Beast of Busco created a frenzy. His land, which was near the Harris farm, was trampled by hundreds of passersby hoping to catch a glimpse of the gargantuan turtle. “They had to close the road; the cars were just bumper to bumper,” Guiff recalled.
After repeated attempts failed to capture the Beast of Busco, Harris decided the best course of action would be to drain the lake.
Additionally, he began charging admission to onlookers who came to his farm, hoping to offset some of his costs from the crops he had lost while being preoccupied with the monster hunt. Harris was able to drain the lake down to about an acre in size; but as luck would have it, his pump failed. Shortly after the pump failure, Harris contracted appendicitis and had to be hospitalized. Harris’ streak of bad luck continued; rain refilled the lake by the time he was able to return to work.6 Harris was broke and defeated—financially ruined. Harris took the only remaining prudent course of action and threw in the towel—the hunt for the Beast of Busco was over.
The Aftermath
What became of Oscar, the Beast of Busco? Find out…

Leave a Reply