Bud Kennedy

1969: When summer brought moon landing, UFOs — and the Lake Worth Monster

1969: When Fort Worth feared the Lake Worth Monster, a sort-of-Bigfoot seen throwing tires

Witnesses gave several different descriptions of a Sasquatch-type animal at the Fort Worth Nature Center. But others called it a prank.
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Witnesses gave several different descriptions of a Sasquatch-type animal at the Fort Worth Nature Center. But others called it a prank.

You can’t keep a good monster down.

In July 1969, when the rest of the world marveled at the moon landing, Fort Worth was fascinated with the Lake Worth Monster.

That month, 49 years ago, a Goat-Man emerged at the Fort Worth Nature Center and started attacking cars and throwing tires.

Or maybe he was a lake serpent (a 1947 sighting nearby), or the furry Bigfoot photographed later in 1969 by a gawking motorist on Shoreline Drive near Greer Island.

Whatever the Monster/Goat-Man is, he’s coming back.

The Nature Center will celebrate his 50th anniversary next year, and the Monster’s legend only grows through reality TV’s fascination with the paranormal.

But as the Monster’s fame grows, another clue to his 1969 origin has turned up.

Star-Telegram archives show that in December 1968, the winter before the Monster began marauding along Shoreline Drive, front-page columnist George Dolan happened to write a joking column reminiscing about the 1947 sighting.

“A man who used to run a boat works on Lake Worth mentioned the other day that he can understand people thinking they see flying saucers,” Dolan wrote, referring to the UFO sightings of that paranoid, Cold War-wary era.

“Remember the ‘Lake Worth monster’?”

Seven months before the 1969 sightings that became a national news story, Dolan recounted the 1947 prank.

Workers at the boat works rigged an inner tube with a pulley and trotline to make it bob up and down in the water, he wrote.

“The excitement went on for days,” Dolan wrote, before the joke was revealed.

“People didn’t believe it,” Dolan quoted the storyteller.

Dolan even added:

“Some of them might still think there’s a monster in Lake Worth.”

The very next summer, at the height of UFO sightings — and slow news dayspolice officer James S. McGee was dispatched to take Fort Worth resident John Reichert’s account of a Goat-Man scratching his car and grabbing at his wife.

A Sansom Park man, Jack Harris, said he saw it throw a tire 500 feet.

Weeks later, Charles Buchanan said he threw a bag of chicken to ward off a gorilla-like creature.

(The owner of a nearby kennel has said a macaque monkey got loose about the same time.)

The only record we have is a blurry Nov. 19, 1969, Polaroid of a giant, white furball described by one online critic as “some sort of monstrous Bichon Frise.”

Allen Plaster of Fort Worth, then owner of the House of Allen women’s wear shop, said he was driving west on Shoreline Drive with a Weatherford couple at 1:35 a.m. when they saw the Fur Monster stand up across the road.

In a 2006 interview, he said he now considers the sighting a “prank,” adding, “Whatever it was, it wanted to be seen.”

The Monster’s birthday is marked every year,.

“There’s more interest than ever in Bigfoot legends,” then-Nature Center manager Suzanne Tuttle said in 2014.

“People are coming in now whose grandparents told them about the monster. We keep hearing new stories.”

Every few months, somebody new calls the Nature Center trying to take credit as the prankster.

The center keeps Monster talk to a minimum. They’d rather visitors come see the alligators or bison.

“We want to bring the Monster back, but only as an occasional thing,” Tuttle said.

He’s about due for a return.

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