Posted by: Loren Coleman on December 12th, 2009
June 21, 1949
Snake Terrorizes Town in Michigan
Salem, Mich. – (AP) – Salem townsfolk are convinced there’s a great serpent still slithering about this farmland community about 30 miles west of Detroit.
A posse of Salem citizens – 100 men strong and armed with an assortment of weapons – set out to get the monster Sunday [June 19]. But all the hunters bagged was two blue racers and eight garter snakes.
Stories of the serpent started circulating nearly a year ago. Then, a local farmer reported, a huge snake – some 17 feet long – appeared while he was driving his tractor, and it outdistanced him when he gave chase.
Three weeks ago, 80-year-old Farmer George Bowen gave the serpent-terror a shot in the arm, reporting he saw the animal on his land.
“Its head was standing four feet off the ground,” Bowen said. He reported he hurried to his house for a shotgun, but when he returned the serpent was gone.
It was Bowen’s land, some 30 acres of marshy, mosquito-ridden ground, that the posse searched. But if the big snake was there, members of the posse said, it certainly has moved by now.
While only two persons reported actually seeing the serpent, dozens of farmers can tell about missing chicks, ducks and even a young calf.
Mothers have been keeping a close check on their children, particularly warning the youngsters to stay away from the home of carpenter Robert Lewis, who located the “serpent’s nest” on his property.
Lewis said the nest is four feet wide. Two paths lead away from it, he added.
Some of the local folks have a theory that the snake is one that escaped from a circus in Ann Arbor 30 years ago.
But conservation officer Davey Crockett of Ypsilanti doubts that. That serpent was a tropical one, he explained[,] and would have found the going rough in a Michigan winter.
Thanks to Jerome Clark for this archival article.