The "Crocodingo" is a cryptid said to inhabit areas of Scott County, Tennessee, most prominently in the city of Oneida. The creature is described as a quadruped, having the body of a dingo but the head of a crocodile. It has sightings peaking between the months of May and July. Though it is commonly associated with the contemporary legend of Sewer Alligators, sightings of the creature in woodland areas have also been common. It is similar to other cryptids, such as the Dogigator and Coonigator, though an authentic connection between these creatures has not been established.
The true origin of the legend is unknown, with many variants existing. Many versions of the tale are based in the supernatural, with the most popular version based on a report of extraterrestrial nature by Scott County resident Hank Lemon. This report is as follows:
On the night of July 31, 1839, Lemon noticed an "otherworldly" green nebulous glow in the sky, similar to the Northern Lights, behind his house in the area now known as Huntsville, Tennessee. The lights seemed to perturb his two dogs, and as Lemon started back inside a blinding light shot through the night air, described by Lemon as "a dead straight bolt of lightning," and into the woods. The glow had vanished, noted Lemon, but minutes later a strange creature, "horribly alien" and moving quickly, was seen passing through the woods, described by Lemon as a dog with an alligator's head.
When questioned later by investigators, Lemon also stated:
"There was this horrible charnel stench in the air, and something else...a horrible thing....something that would drive a man crazy should he be exposed to it for too long a period."
Lemon's account has led many Scott County residents to believe that the Crocodingo is the product of genetic engineering created on the basis of experimentation by an alien race and dropped from their spacecraft when containment of the creature proved too difficult. Similar reports of bizarre green lights have since been sighted in the Huntsville area.
The origin of the "Crocodingo" name isn't certain. However, the most persistent story among locals is that it was coined in the late 1800s by a man living in the New River area by the name of Curiel Allan Brown. According to legend, Brown's father traveled to North America from Victoria, Australia as a stowaway aboard a Confederate raider ship during the American Civil War. The term "Crocodingo" is likely a humorous misnomer, as although dingoes are indigenous to Brown's ancestral continent, they have never existed in the American South.
Prior to the name gaining traction in the community, most accounts referred to the creature affectionately as a "Haint Dog."
Following the account of Hank Lemon, many sightings of the creature were reported near New River, Tennessee, between the years of 1856 and 1860. There was an abundance of wildlife in the area during these years, and several sightings arose of the creature eating fish from the creeks. Many fishermen began leaving the smaller of their catches by the creek beds as oblations for the creature. Some fishermen set traps there to catch the beast, though they always returned empty-handed. As the year 1900 approached, the fish population dwindled, and many residents attributed the bottleneck to the Crocodingo.
During the Civil War in the 1860s, many sightings of the creature were reported by Confederate soldiers as they passed through the largely union-sided county . A particularly notable account made by Confederate soldier Roger Owens in 1863 described the creature guarding the corpse of an unknown man who, according to Owens, was missing much of his countenance. Investigators later located many traces of blood in the area, possibly substantiating Owens' claim, though a body was never found.
Many farmers claimed to have sighted the creature throughout the late 1800s, several saying they had fired at the creature to no effect. There is no record of crop loss surrounding the time of the sightings, leading researchers to believe the creature, if existential, is of carnivorous nature.
Sightings continued into the 1900s, where sightings were reported by many mill, railroad and brick workers in the developing area. Reports surfaced on more than one occasion of newly laid rails that had been found split in two. Popular legend claims bite marks were found embedded in the steel.
After the implementation of the Oneida Sewer System in 1925, reports of the creature reached a peak. Many Oneida residents reported strange sounds emanating from storm drains, predominantly after significant rainfall, sewer workers spoke of horrible alien howls echoing through the tunnels, seeming to source from all directions, and manholes were found mysteriously uncovered by daybreak.
In 1943, sewer worker Jack Bannister claimed to have followed a creature he first thought to be a coyote to the mouth of the manhole, where the creature, according to Bannister, "nudged the cover off easily with dog-like mannerisms and, for lack of a better word, slithered down into the sewer." Bannister's account states that by the time it had reached the manhole cover, its form was sufficiently illuminated. Bannister could see the body of what he described as a "mangy wolf" with a strange, alien head, similar to an alligator or crocodile.
Sightings of the creature, though less common after Bannister's account, continued throughout the 1900s. The last notable sighting of the creature occurred on June 16th, 2012, reported by two workers on break at the local cinema who claimed to spot the creature crawl out of a distant manhole. By the time the two reached the uncovered manhole whatever it was had gone.
The strange sounds and sightings still occur today in the town of Oneida .
Explaining the Crocodingo
A number of possible explanations have been put forth over the years. A popular theory, though doing nothing to alleviate the mystery of the creature, is that the Crocodingo is actually a Shapeshifter or Skin-Walker, caught between two identities.
Many believe the creature is somehow related to Tennessee's own Bell Witch, who, according to legend, first appeared to farmer John Bell as a dog-rabbit hybrid.
Such theories relating the Crocodingo to the Bell Witch have led many to form a connection between the creature and a cryptic local landmark affectionately known as The Witch's Grave, where many paranormal sightings involving a slender, raven-haired woman have been reported.
Many researchers, such as Gregory Lay, of Oneida , discount the reports of the creature as mere dog or coyote sightings. On the matter, Lay made this statement:
"This Crocodingo thing...it's all just a product of Mass Hysteria. These folks see what they want to see. That's all I can say. I believe there's more crock than dingo to our beast."