Milwaukee Myth-O-Meter: 5 Local Myths, Busted

We put these urban legends to the test to see which ones hold up!

1. Milwaukee Lion

In 2015, dozens of people reported seeing a large, lion-like creature prowling the city’s North Side, and one of them captured a short video of the alleged “Milwaukee Lion.” Given the large number of witnesses, the furor became a national curiosity, and while many people dismissed the scare as nonsense, experts on big cats said a lion – but more likely a cougar – could have found its way into the city. A similar panic took hold of the city in 1961, when several people, including two police officers, reported seeing a large cat roaming the city.

[toggler title=”True, False, or Maybe? Click to find out” ]While neither sighting was ultimately confirmed, recent events suggest that big cats live closer to us than we realize: In February, a cougar was caught on surveillance video peering in the window of a house in Brookfield, and another big cat was spotted in Jefferson County in December.

[/toggler] [alert type=white ]Read the full story

Milwaukee’s Unsolved Mysteries and Hidden History



2. A Secret Land of Little People

For decades, the dead end of Mystic Drive in Muskego has been rumored to skirt close to a tiny village hidden in the woods with small houses and roads, a to-scale refuge for former circus-performing little people, all watched over by a full-sized, gun-toting albino man. A legend that has launched a thousand late night car rides, Haunchyville has stood as one of the area’s most persistent tall tales, but its time is about up.

[toggler title=”True, False, or Maybe? Click to find out” ]Extensive suburban development has all but robbed Mystic Drive of its mystery. Precious little forest remains, just a few patches that cling to where the road butts up against swampy Muskego Lake. The largest section of woods is less than a quarter square mile and surrounded by several houses, all of them full-sized and one with an angry-looking No Trespassing sign on the edge of its lot. Inside the forest, there are only trees.[/toggler]

3. Milorganite is Human Poop

The pellet-shaped fertilizer made and sold by the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District is terrific, providing nutrients without burning plants like other fertilizers do. But, considering its origin, are gardeners and golf courses spreading human scat on their greenery?

[toggler title=”True, False, or Maybe? Click to find out” ]While doo-doo is a major component in its manufacture, along with “gray water” from kitchen sinks and other biological waste from businesses, the resulting material is not poop. The sludgy slurry is digested and chemically transformed by billions of bacteria, and it’s their bodies that are clumped, dried and sold as Milorganite.


4. Oak Creek’s Road to Nowhere

Quite dramatically, East Fitzsimmons Road in Oak Creek ends in a 100-foot drop to the rough shoreline of Lake Michigan. While at least one person has driven off the cliff, Thelma-and-Louise style, these days concrete barriers a half-mile from the precipice bar entry by cars and trucks. But that doesn’t stop people from parking and walking down the road, through some sparse woods, to the cliff. Along the way, all kinds of spooky things can happen, including supposed encounters with a dead farmer who is said to have murdered his family (of course). He wanders about and occasionally chases visitors at superhuman speeds.

[toggler title=”True, False, or Maybe? Click to find out” ]We’re just here to confirm that the road exists (check) and does mysteriously lead to nowhere (also check).


5. The Angry Goatman

According to the West Bend author J. Nathan Couch, an expert in strange beasts, the countryside of Washington County is peppered with legends about a Goatman, a half-man, half-goat creature like a satyr. In particular, stories point to treacherous and secluded Hogsback Road, where Goatman is said to instigate car crashes, run off with the drivers and hang their dead bodies from trees. During the research for his book Goatman: Flesh or Folklore?, Couch remained deeply skeptical, treating the tales as folklore, until he interviewed Jason Miller, a local who said he’d encountered a large goat man in 2003 while deer hunting in Kewaskum off South Mill Road, otherwise known as Goatman Road.

[toggler title=”True, False, or Maybe? Click to find out” ]“It was the size of a deer, tan and gray in color,” Miller told Couch. “It looked like a goat but with a human head and arms. I remember it had a beard that was gray and very long.” Miller booked it out of the area as soon as the creature — which was swearing under its breath about “trespassers” — ambled out of sight. Couch ultimately concluded he should take the sighting seriously but couldn’t fully believe in Goatman until he saw the creature himself. In the years since, there have been at least two other “very intriguing [sightings] in the same general area,” he says.[/toggler]

‘Unsolved Mysteries & Hidden History’ appeared in the May 2018 issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

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Matt has written for Milwaukee Magazine since 2006, when he was a lowly intern. Since then, he’s held the posts of assistant news editor and, most recently, senior editor. He’s lived in South Carolina, Tennessee, Connecticut, Iowa, and Indiana but mostly in Wisconsin. He wants to do more fishing but has a hard time finding worms. For the magazine, Matt has written about city government, schools, religion, coffee roasters and Congress.