Physical Description and Life Cycle

Gowrow is a giant beast in the legends in the folklore and myth of the Ozarks. [1] Described as a huge, dragon-like monster, [1] and other accounts describe it as a lizard-like animal with enormous tusks. [8] No matter the source, the size remains consistent, Gowrow grow to approximately twenty feet (6.1 m) long. [1,7,8]

Reports of Gowrows roaming the Ozark Mountains cropped up all over the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. [2] They have short legs with webbed feet, similar to a duck's feet, except that the Gowrow's toes each had a terrible claw. [6] They are green, have thick scales, and their backs are bristled with short horns. [6] Gowrows also have thin, long tails with sharp grove-like formations, so the tail can be used like a sickle. [6]

Gowrows are carnivorous and prey upon goats, deer, [3] calves, sheep, and even humans. [7] They are hatched from soft-shelled eggs as big as beer kegs. [7]

The live in caverns and under rock ledges, where they spend most of their time. [7]

The Gowrow Showing

In the late nineteenth century, a Missourian claimed to capture a Gowrow alive by enticing it to eat a wagonload of dried apples. This caused the Gowrow's body to swell so much that it couldn't re-enter its own burrow. [7]

After capturing the beast, the man set up a tent to exhibit the creature to the public, charging twenty-five cents for admission, and gathered the audience outside the tent. While they waited, the audience looked at a painting of another Gowrow devouring a family of cotton farmers. [7]

Before the showing could start, a horrific roaring sound went up, followed by several shots of a gun and the clanking of chains. The showman, injured, staggered out onto the stage, shouting, 'Run for your lives! The Gowrow broke loose!' [7]

The back tent collapsed, and thunderous roars echoed with rattling chains. The spectators rushed away in panic, not stopping to get their money back. [7]

Throughout the nineteenth century, Gowrow Showings popped up. Individuals usually only related a single incidence, but it's likely that more than one 'Gowrow Escape' showing occurred.

The Arkansas Gowrow

In 1897, William Miller killed a Gowrow. [4] The Gowrow had been terrorizing a rural Arkansas population since the 1880s. [8] Miller was a traveling salesman, and at the time he was near Marshal, Arkansas, USA. [8]

Years before, E. J. Rhodes owned a place called Devil's Hole near Boone County, Arkansas. He decided to explore the fissure to see how deep it went, what was within it, etc. with the help of several people. [4] About two hundred feet (61 m) down, Rhodes encountered a shelving ledge, and nearby a funnel-like opening that led to another chamber below. [6] He descended to three hundred feet (91 m) in the chamber, but it was too dark to determine the extent of it, and fearing that noxious gases were present, Rhodes was forced to ascend. [6]

In an attempt to see how deep the hole went, Rhodes and his men lowered a line with a piece of iron at the end. [4] A hissing noise echoed up, and when the rope was pulled up, the metal was bent. [5] The team used rocks for three subsequent attempts, but the line was bitten clean through each time. Some people thought it was an Indian spirit, but most suspect it was the Gowrow. [5] This cave is the where Miller killed the Gowrow years later, when people could enter the cave. [6]

Miller and several others explored the cave, finding bones of animals and even some human remains. They waited in the cave for the Gowrow to return. When it approached, the earth shook. When the Gowrow came in range, everyone fired. It took several volleys to kill it, and it uprooted several trees and killed one member of the party before the Gowrow itself died. [6]

Miller claimed that he shipped the hide and skeleton to the Smithsonian Institute at Washington, but the Smithsonian has always denied receiving it. [8] Miller believed that someone had managed to embezzle his trophy. [8]


  1. Rose [Dragons] 150
  2. Rose [Dragons] 151
  3. Downs [Bear] 127
  4. Downs [Bear] 129
  5. Downs [Bear] 130
  6. 'Bottomless Pit Mystifies South', Chester Times, 8 Nov. 1927
  7. Randolph, Amarillo Daily News, 10 Jul. 1951
  8. Dewey, Salina Journal, 13 May 1951

For more information on footnotes and references, please see the bibliography.