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PIKE COUNTY, Mo. – A town’s historical museum in Pike County is observing the 50th anniversary of the first sighting of Mo Mo the Missouri Monster.

Black bear sightings in populated areas of Missouri have been popping up this summer, but in the summer of 1971, Mo Mo the Monster was popping up in Pike County.

The Louisiana Area Historical Society said Joan Mills and Mary Ryan “were returning to St. Louis on Highway 79 when they stopped for a picnic northwest of Louisiana.” It was while picnicking that the women saw what they called a “half-ape, half-man” come out of the woods.

From then on, more sightings began to happen.

Residents of Louisiana, Missouri claim they saw a creature that stands on two feet, smells “worse than any old goat,” “its growl is like a bear’s,” is “black and hairy,” but the police couldn’t find anything “because it’s got a big tail, that swept away its footprints,” according to a story published by the Post-Dispatch in July 1972.

After Mills and Ryan saw Mo Mo originally, much of the excitement surrounding the monster stemmed from Marzolf Hill near the Harrison family home on Allen Street. Many of the Harrison children claimed they saw Mo Mo. The police chief at the time, Shelby Ward, was called to investigate at Marzolf Hill multiple times. There were even search parties of over a dozen men put together.

The residents of the town who didn’t believe in the monster were mostly concerned with the search parties being dangerous due to people carrying guns.

“People are going to go up the hill with guns looking for this thing and somebody’s going to get shot,” Ward told the Post-Dispatch.

There were about 100 people who gathered at City Hall when Ward was first putting together a search party for Mo Mo, according to Vic Meyer who was a member of the Pike County Rescue Squad.

“I was glad when Shelby held it to law enforcement officers and members of the rescue squad. I wouldn’t have gone up there if he hadn’t,” Meyer told the Post-Dispatch.

Mo Mo the Missouri Monster is the inspiration behind stories, a song, movies, and television programs.

The Louisiana Area Historical Society Museum is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays.