The Loveland Frogman

In February, 2023, the Nation turned their eyes to the state of Ohio after a freight train carrying some really nasty stuff derailed near East Palestine, Ohio and when a bunch of political figures got involved, things got really weird. I mean, super weird. To make a long story short, let’s just say that there was a lot of political theater going on while many people just wanted to know if the air was safe to breathe, the water was safe to drink, and holy hell why can I set my tap water on fire? Thankfully, this article isn’t about that.

Two weeks later, two hundred and something miles to the south-west, the city of Loveland, Ohio decided to throw a party. Some people wanted to celebrate the town’s second annual Hearts Afire Weekend (which I hear was a great success) … but the Fire Department wanted everyone to know that the town’s water supply was safe, the local politicians wanted everyone to know that in spite of what you read on the Internet, taking a shower isn’t going to cause your children to glow in the dark, and Aunt Irma wanted everyone to know that if they smelled something funky in the air, it wasn’t caused by her Three Bean Casserole.

But, city officials had been planning this event for months – since well before the Norfolk Southern train incident a couple weeks prior. Sure, they wanted to end the Hearts Afire Weekend with style and panache, but perhaps moreso, they wanted to introduce the citizens to the city’s new mascot… a half humanoid, half lizard creature known as …

The Loveland Frogman

The first person believed to have seen the Frog-Man creature was some businessman driving down some road (obviously these reports were taken so seriously I guess they forgot to record his name, or even which road he was driving on) when he spotted three … well, things, on the side of the road. Their bodies looked almost human-like, each one standing on two legs, having two arms and a solid torso connecting them. They definitely weren’t human, though, because they all had frog-like heads. They stood somewhere around four feet tall, and had leathery skin. Their hands and feet were somewhat webbed, as well. 

One of the creatures was carrying a metal wand or cylinder of some sort and after observing the things for a few minutes (they seemed to have been communicating with each other) the one with the wand raised it over his head and sparks flew out one end. At this point, the man became terrified of the creatures and quickly sped away to wherever he was going.

There are a few distinct versions of this story floating around, each with slightly different details. Some say it was one particular stretch of road, while others say it by that bridge over there. But, generally speaking, the story went something like that.

Anyway, soon the story of The Loveland Frog-Man started to make its way through the gossip grapevine, and it didn’t take long until other people started seeing them, too. One person might say, “My cousin’s college roommate’s brother saw it on The Loveland Avenue bridge” and the person they were talking to would comment how her “sister’s neighbor’s milk man saw it under the train bridge a block or two south of there.” 

This would continue until 1972. A man named Ray Shockey said that he was driving around at 1:00 in the morning on March 3, 1972 and he happened to be carefully driving in winter conditions when some … thing … passed in front of his vehicle, which he stopped on the spot and scanned the area with a powerful light. The creature he then spotted was about four feet tall, fifty to seventy-five pounds, and had leathery skin. When he shined the light on it, it went from a couching, frog-like position, to standing erect. The two stared at each other for a few seconds until the creature (or whatever it was) crossed the road, again, and jumped into the river. This tale was different for two reasons: first, it wasn’t told by some lady who teaches the children of a man your best friend works with, but by this guy named Ray. And secondly, Ray was a police officer. And as such, he’s probably not someone who has ever tried Aunt Irma’s “Special” Brownies.

(And for today’s important historical lesson … once upon a time, most people trusted the police. Strange times, I know.)

A couple weeks later, on St. Patrick’s Day, another police officer (who may or may not have sampled some green beer) also claimed to have seen one of the Frog-Men. Officer Matthews’ description matched Officer Shockey’s, except he also noted the thing had a tale. The time he saw the thing, it, too, had been crouched at first along the side of the road near the Little Miami River. Fearing his own safety, Matthews pulled out his service revolver and fired a few shots toward the creature before it scurried away into the nearby river. It is unclear whether Officer Matthews actually hit anything when he fired his weapon, but, I suppose it doesn’t really matter…

…Because a few days later, Matthews would recant his story, at least in part.

He would ultimately go on to say that what he saw was clearly not the legendary Frog-Man, but just some large lizard, the kind you would expect to see if someone had a large lizard as a pet.

Other Nearby Lizard Cryptids

The description that Officer Matthews gave (after he changed his mind) closely resembled tales of a giant lizard that had been coming out of Milton, Kentucky. That lizard appeared to be just a lizard (no humanoid qualities) measuring, people guessed, around fifteen feet long, but otherwise resembling a standard Monitor Lizard.

A couple hundred miles down the Ohio River from Loveland lies the city of Evansville, Indiana, where 35 year-old Naomi Johnson and her thirteen year-old son Darwin spotted another rather large lizard while swimming in the Ohio River. She claimed to have been about fifteen feet from the shoreline when something grabbed her leg and tried to pull her under. She struggled and managed to fight off whatever was attacking her, but once she was free from the thing’s talons, she and her son got a glimpse of it and said it was definitely a giant lizard.

Later on, however, Naomi would change her story, at least a little. She had heard a story about The Sutton Family and their encounter with some alien (extraterrestrial) spacemen and supposedly she instantly knew that her story and this encounter was somehow connected. From that point on, whenever she told her story, she’d allude to the Sutton family while also adding that she and her son did happen to see something, possibly an alien spacecraft, around the time of her giant lizard attack.

Finding The Truth In The Lizard-Man Myth

For the most part, many of the details in the various Lizard-Man myths are kind of hard to verify. For example, nobody knows for sure who the supposed businessman was from the original 1955 tale, and neither I nor any other credible researcher has been able to uncover his true identity, or any direct reports of anyone observing a man-like lizard (or lizard-like man) anywhere near Loveland. Officer Roy Shockey (or at least someone with that name) was in the Loveland Police Department throughout the 1970s, so while we can (kind of) verify that he actually existed, there are no police reports (nor any other direct evidence) that he reported seeing a man-like frog creature. There was no Officer Matthews in the Loveland Police Department, at least not that we can find, today. It’s possible there once was one, or it is possible he served with another law enforcement agency operating in that area (such as the Sheriff’s Department).

According to Edgar Slotkin, who once taught folklore at the University of Cincinnati, the Loveland Frog-Man story is a typical tall-tale that follows an obvious pattern – although he’s been a little shy as to what that pattern is, exactly. 

Some researchers trying to find a potential solution to this mystery point out the partial resemblance to a monster that (not really all that surprisingly) quite a few people had seen around 1955 – and a monster that you can, in fact, observe for yourself today. 

I am, of course, referring to The Creature From The Black Lagoon, a movie released in 1954 (a year before the initial sighting) by Universal Studios. The “Creature” in question being something of a lizard-like man-thing which has captivated audiences ever since. (In fact, the “Creature” was said by Guillermo del Toro to be the inspiration for his 2017 film The Shape of Water (for which he won several Oscars in that year’s Academy Awards.)

As for me, I don’t know. Maybe someone back in 1955 did see … something. Maybe it was some cryptid, or maybe it was something else entirely (such as a man in a dive suit) and being aware of the Creature of the Black Lagoon, they mistook what they saw for some kind of water monster. Or, maybe (being as most versions of this story take place at night) he had a bit too much to drink at the local tavern and had to concoct a story to tell his wife about why he was getting home so late. Who really knows.

But, there is one thing I do know for sure … If you really want to get a glimpse of The Loveland Frogman, you certainly can. He is their town Mascot, after all. (Sure, I know, it’s a person in a man-frog suit, but let’s not confuse the issue with too many facts, okay?)

Loveland Frogman Mascot

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