Tunnel Monster vs. River Monster

Only one local legend can survive.



 

Fact: The Pittsburgh Tunnel Monster exists. There’s no other explanation for why Pittsburghers are filled with trepidation and an innate instinct to abuse their brakes at the sight of the car-eating, man-pulverizing tubes. I’ve long argued that we should mount “Here be dragons” signs at the mouths of these deadly beasts to warn out-of-state drivers that they’re about to enter the portal to final doom.

What about the other mythological Pittsburgh creature, the Monongahela Monster? What of the ancient whispered lore of a terrifying monstrosity living in the Allegheny, Ohio and Monongahela rivers? What of the tale as old as time of a creature lurking in the murky depths of our waterways, hungry . . . waiting . . . salivating . . . and probably putting fries on top of victims before swallowing them whole?

I’ve done the research, and it’s not comforting: Accounts of this behemoth date to the days before Europeans set their land-stealing toenails in the “new” world and continue right into the 21st century.

The Native Americans of present-day West Virginia and western Pennsylvania shared fireside stories of a river monster capable of cleaving a man in two with one snap of its powerful jaws. Swallowing children in a single gulp. Dragging deer down the riverbanks, where they are later drowned, crushed and ingested in minutes.

It may have a name: Ogua.

Which I believe is pronounced “Dear God Almighty, NO!”

The description varies from account to account, but I’m going to share what I’ve learned. Hold on to your Terrible Towels; it’s about to get interesting.

The Ogua may have been a 20-foot-long, 500-pound turtle-shaped creature capable of leaving the water on stout legs for short land excursions to attack deer and/or children. It could’ve been a monster that quietly lurked underwater near the banks of the rivers, awaiting a thirsty deer, which it would attack with its 15-foot-long tail, snag and drown. At which point — you guessed it — it would swallow the deer whole.

Other accounts refer to the water-dwelling Ogua as more “serpentine” in nature but with short legs that allowed it to move terribly fast on land, where it hunted prey . . . that it swallowed whole.

There’s one shady Internet report that states the creature had two heads. I’ve discounted that on account of a 20-foot deer-eating turtle sounding much more believable. Now, it’s possible that Native Americans invented the Ogua in an attempt to scare their young from getting too close to the river’s edge, where they could have fallen in. I mean, what’s more terrifying than being swallowed whole by a monster? NOTHING.

It’s also probable that the Monongahela Monster hasn’t a thing to do with western Pennsylvania and instead refers to the English ship “Monongahela,” which reportedly encountered, fought and bested a 100-foot sea serpent in 1852 off the island of Umnak in the Aleutians. That monster was 50 feet in diameter and had a 10-foot-long alligator-like head filled with about 100 3-inch-long curved teeth.

(Readers, wave to the SyFy screenwriters — they just started paying attention.)

Perhaps we’ve mistakenly adopted this monster, thinking Monongahela referred to our river and not a ship a half-world away? Although it would be hard to confuse a 20-foot turtle with a 100-foot hybrid sea snake/alligator. That’s the weirdest sentence I’ve ever had published. Or maybe the Ogua was just a lost river alligator. That could explain the reports of people vanishing mysteriously from our riverbanks.

There is still so much to learn but, unfortunately, so little information. At this rate, I’ll never get my $64.99 Ph.D. in Cryptozoology from that totally legit Internet college. My thesis title: “Tunnel Monster vs. Ogua.” (Don’t steal that, SyFy. It’s mine.)

However, after eight hours of research into our city’s cryptid river monster using the scant information that is available, I’ve concluded the following: Ogua does exist, it’s terrifying and deadly — and it’s *spooky voice* a beast borne in HELL.

That — or it’s a really huge catfish.

Let’s find it, kill it and eat it with fries on top.


Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Best Restaurants 2016

Best Restaurants 2016

Which 33 Pittsburgh-area establishments did our independent Restaurant Review Panel include among its top picks this year? Find them here.
Six Pittsburgh Chefs Who Are Outstanding in Their Field

Six Pittsburgh Chefs Who Are Outstanding in Their Field

In addition to awarding Best Restaurant honors this year, our Independent Restaurant Review Panel also voted to recognize six chefs for their contributions to Pittsburgh’s culinary community in 2015.
Citizen Artist: Vanessa German

Citizen Artist: Vanessa German

German blends a collage of community activism and soul-searching artistry.
PittGirl to Wooers: ‘Not Today Satan, Not Today’

PittGirl to Wooers: ‘Not Today Satan, Not Today’

It only takes one person, one jagoff, one childish, attention-seeking, discourteous jerk to send a woo through PNC Park.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

5 Reasons PyroFest Will Light Up Your Memorial Day Weekend

5 Reasons PyroFest Will Light Up Your Memorial Day Weekend

PyroFest will also include live music, food, a Kids Zone and more.
8 Things You Might Not Know About Kennywood’s Jack Rabbit

8 Things You Might Not Know About Kennywood’s Jack Rabbit

When you compare what it cost to build the coaster in 1920 to what it would cost today, it's obvious Kennywood's owners got their money's worth.
Second New Restaurant Moving into Union Trust Building

Second New Restaurant Moving into Union Trust Building

The upscale seafood eatery is expected to open in late 2016 or early 2017.
Local Filmmaker Celebrates Pittsburgh Food

Local Filmmaker Celebrates Pittsburgh Food

Artist David Bernabo creates a series of films that track various aspects of Pittsburgh's food culture.

Sign Up for the 412 e-Newsletter

 

Our new, daily e-newsletter is curated by the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine and is designed to give you the very best Pittsburgh has to offer -- delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign me up!
* Email
 First Name
 Last Name
  * = Required Field
 
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Best Restaurants 2016

Best Restaurants 2016

Which 33 Pittsburgh-area establishments did our independent Restaurant Review Panel include among its top picks this year? Find them here.
Six Pittsburgh Chefs Who Are Outstanding in Their Field

Six Pittsburgh Chefs Who Are Outstanding in Their Field

In addition to awarding Best Restaurant honors this year, our Independent Restaurant Review Panel also voted to recognize six chefs for their contributions to Pittsburgh’s culinary community in 2015.
Citizen Artist: Vanessa German

Citizen Artist: Vanessa German

German blends a collage of community activism and soul-searching artistry.
PittGirl to Wooers: ‘Not Today Satan, Not Today’

PittGirl to Wooers: ‘Not Today Satan, Not Today’

It only takes one person, one jagoff, one childish, attention-seeking, discourteous jerk to send a woo through PNC Park.
Daytripping: Canonsburg is a City of Antiques

Daytripping: Canonsburg is a City of Antiques

Nearby Canonsburg is a rare find for antiques collectors.
U.S. Open at Oakmont: Will The Town Finally Be a Player?

U.S. Open at Oakmont: Will The Town Finally Be a Player?

The U.S. Open is returning to Oakmont — and unlike previous tournaments, this one could make the community a vital part of the action.
Edit Module

Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


5 Reasons PyroFest Will Light Up Your Memorial Day Weekend

5 Reasons PyroFest Will Light Up Your Memorial Day Weekend

PyroFest will also include live music, food, a Kids Zone and more.

Comments


Pittsburgh, only cooler
PittGirl: How You Should Grade A Squishy Tongue

PittGirl: How You Should Grade A Squishy Tongue

Kennywood Park opens soon and new this season is the return of the famed whale at the entrance of Noah’s Ark. In the name of science, PittGirl paid an early visit to test the squishiness quotient of the whale's all-important tongue.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Richard DeShantz Plans Two New Restaurants at Salt of the Earth Building

Richard DeShantz Plans Two New Restaurants at Salt of the Earth Building

DeShantz owns three other Pittsburgh restaurants and is about to open a fourth.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
The Best 6 Places to Get a Cup of Tea in Pittsburgh

The Best 6 Places to Get a Cup of Tea in Pittsburgh

The quiet rise of Pittsburgh's tea scene gives us a few favorite gems.

Comments


Highmark Stadium Pub Wants Your Attention

Highmark Stadium Pub Wants Your Attention

The in-house tavern at the Riverhounds' home stadium is now welcoming guests during weekdays. But is it worth a dedicated stop?

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Crosby’s Long-Awaited Signature has Pens Pondering The Possibilities

Crosby’s Long-Awaited Signature has Pens Pondering The Possibilities

For Sidney Crosby and for the Penguins, happy days are here again. But the emotion of the moment won’t mean much if Crosby and the Penguins aren’t able to build upon it as the series progresses.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Flip the Switch: Industrial-Style Lighting Made in Pittsburgh

Flip the Switch: Industrial-Style Lighting Made in Pittsburgh

An electrician by trade, designer Thomas Verscharen creates custom lighting out of repurposed pieces.

Comments


Sean Collier's Popcorn for Dinner

The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
The Angry Birds Movie Is Just a Total Mess

The Angry Birds Movie Is Just a Total Mess

Plus reviews of "The Nice Guys" and "Neighbors 2," as well as local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Get with the (Wedding) Program

Get with the (Wedding) Program

Have you ever considered making programs for your wedding guests? If not, think again and get creative.

Comments


The latest tips and trends to refresh your home.
A Tiny House that's Big on Energy Savings

A Tiny House that's Big on Energy Savings

Spread out across the city for these upcoming events, including a “Tiny House” exhibit at the Carnegie Science Center displayed by the FIY Network.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
Duquesne University to Host Small Business Networking Event

Duquesne University to Host Small Business Networking Event

The event will connect hundreds of small business managers and owners and provide useful information to help them take their enterprises to the next level.

Comments