William Thomas Cox and the Fearsome Creatures of the Lumberwoods

William Thomas Cox was Minnesota’s first State Forester, appointed in 1911.

He was also the author of Fearsome Creatures of the Lumberwoods. Written in 1910, this book is now in the public domain. An online copy can be found at Google Books. A great tribute copy can be found at the 100th Anniversary Online Edition. (This one is much easier to read and obviously has had a lot of love put into it.)

The book is a fantasy bestiary, although at times it presents itself as fact for the purpose of immersion, and is a great source of ideas for what kinds of creatures people imagined a hundred years ago, complete with illustrations.

Some of the creatures are highly unbelievable, such as the Roperite:

“The Digger Indians say that roperites are the spirits of early Spanish ranchers, and blood-curdling are the tales they tell of hapless creatures pursued by the beast, snared with its marvelous rope-like beak, and dragged to death through thorny chaparral. No man or animal can hope to outrun it. It steps upon road-runners or kicks them out of the way.”

While others try to fool the reader into believing, like the Hyampom hog bear:

“To appreciate the importance of this animal one must remember that hog ranches are common in northwestern California. The Country there is peculiarly adapted to hog raising, and the industry would be attractive and highly profitable were it not for the existence of the hog bear.”

“Mr. Eugene S. Bruce, of the Forest Services, captured a cub hog bear, which he presented to the National Zoo in Washington. ”


The book is a quick and entertaining read, and full if ideas if you are looking at how to make a fictional animal seem real.

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