The Mingo Creek Monster!
Legend has it that there is a mutant fish, of gigantic proportions, lurking within our own meandering Mingo Creek. The myth reveals that this creature navigates through shallow runs by night and stays hidden in deeper pools by day. Never staying in one spot to long but always within the confines of the Mingo. Sightings or reports of encounters with the beast, according to my source, go as far back as the 1930's. This brute travels from the beginning trickles of the Mingo near Linfield-Trappe Road all the way down to "mouth of the Mingo" at the Schuylkill near 2nd Avenue.
I grew up in Royersford during the 1950's and had a neighbor that was probably in his 80's. Never knew his real name but we called him "Bumper". I believe he earned this nickname because he tended a small garden, just outside of town near Lakeview Park, and always had the best "bumper" crops. Anyway, he also could be found, from time to time, perched on his front porch in his rocking chair just watching the world go by. This one day as I was walking past, with fishing pole in hand, he asked where I was headed. I replied "Fishing, of course". His facial expression took on a look of grave concern and he said, "You ain't heading to the Mingo are you?". "Sure 'am", I answered. Without hesitation Bumper said, "better watch out for the monster". Even at the tender age of eight years I sensed a warning and stopped in my tracks with one foot still in mid stride. Gaining my composure I ascended the four steps to his porch, took a stance to his left, and stuttered the words, "Whaaat Mo mo monster?"
Bumper proceeded to tell me that, within the boundaries of the Mingo, there lived a fish that could turn the bravest man into a whimpering child. He expanded the legend by adding that this monster was probably responsible for a few missing cattle from Weaver's farm out near Royersford and Linfield-Trappe Road! Even to me this sounded far fetched and I told him, "Sir, I think your kidding me". The old man looked me in the eye and said, "Son, if you must go do not go alone". His tone of voice made me question my assumption and I asked what proof he could show me. He held out his left hand showing me two missing fingers. Swallowing hard I asked, "Did the monster do that?". He assured me that his missing digits where from his one and only encounter with the critter. I told him that I had to go now and his last words were, "You better be careful".
My long walk to the Mingo gave me plenty of time to think about what Bumper said. When I finally reached my destination my nerves were tight and my senses on high alert. I chose a bridge on a stretch of the creek just a bit past Lakeview Park. You see back then there was no By-pass, no WaWa, no shopping center or even a house within three hundred yards. This was a spot that always yielded sunfish, suckers and even an occasional catfish on previous visits. I baited up with a juicy night crawler and tossed it to the center of the sluggish pool under the bridge.
As my offering slowly sank I was turning left and right to guard against a flank attack. The solid jerk of my rod was enough to scare the dickens out of me and my only thought was to hold on. I had never felt a fish like this one. The muddy water obscured any glimpse of what was to come and the battle was furious to say the least. Holding tight I began to back up so as to pull this, still unknown, fish from the water and up onto the grassy bank. The splashing was causing waves from one side of the creek to the other. Finally I had back peddled enough to drag the hooked fish out and saw that is was a slithering, slimy and very annoyed eel of about five feet in length! This had to be the "Monster of Mingo Creek". It's thick, snake like body, and toothy mouth was proof to me that fingers would be a easy meal for someone that was careless. I found a sturdy stick and hooked the squirming monster through the gills so that I could drag him home and show Bumper.
Now within sight of my house I could see that he was still sitting in the rocker. I ran the last fifty feet, still dragging my prize, and bounded up to his porch. "I GOT THE MONSTER!" I screamed.
Well ol' Bumber took a look, held his left hand up to the eel's mouth and calmly said, "Son, that ain't him".
So to this very day if you wander any part of the Mingo Creek you better not go alone!
Picture of eel "borrowed" from : http://ecowatch.org/2011/american-eel-may-warrant-protection-under-the-endangered-species-act/
Also "The Friends of Mingo Creek" have a web site/blog but it seems to not be updated. Visit it with this link: http://friendsofmingocreek.blogspot.com/