CHURUBUSCO, Ind. (WANE) — The history of how the town of Churubusco got its nickname started as a turtle tall tale or to believers the tale of a tall turtle.
Before drones, the internet, and social media there was a turtle whose home was located in a lake just east of Churubusco. The town is located northwest of Fort Wayne and home to nearly two thousand residents. But in 1948 it was also home to a mythical creature that would go down in history as Indiana’s BigFoot or Loss Ness Monster.
“It must have been a slow news year because it went viral, and that was before viral was used,” said Chuck Jones. “It was all over the country.”
In 1948, “The Beast of Busco” was first spotted in Fulk Lake. Two men were fishing and claimed to have seen a giant snapping turtle, Oscar. Then a while later two men were fixing a roof and also saw the beast.
Oscar was said to be longer and bigger than an average rowboat which is about 10 feet, had a head the size of a child, and weighed anywhere from 400 to 500 pounds. His name steemed from the original owner of the lake, Oscar Fulk who believes he first saw the turtle in 1898.
Later in 1948 the owner of the property, farmer Gale Harris, saw the turtle and set out to capture the beast. The word of Oscar quickly spread to neighboring towns and soon after made national news.
Jones was just 10 at the time. He remembers the crowds and fans swarming to Fulk Lake just to get a glimpse of the tortoise. Cars caused traffic jams, plans flew overhead and divers went down in the darkest, deepest parts of the lake, and yet the beast was never found.
“They had traps, and hooks and they tried everything to find this turtle and they actually did find it,” Jones said. “It broke out of this net. They had it on a gaff hook and while they had it, it started to tip the boat. So we know it was a large turtle.”
The property owner even started to drain the lake in hopes of seeing the beast. However, due to a mixture of money issues and limited sighting, the search for Oscar stopped. To this day Oscar has yet to make another appearance.
More than half a century later Churubusco still calls itself “Turtle Town U.S.A.” It’s hard to miss the 15-foot grinning green tortoise as you enter Churubusco from U.S. 33 and all of the turtles displayed throughout the town.
Each year the town also salutes Oscar with Turtle Days, a four-day event that includes turtle races, judging of turtle sculptures, and carnival attractions. This year Turtle Days is from June 16 to the 19.
Now Oscar’s home is up for sale. Located between Madden and McDuffee Roads the nearly 44 acres property is on the market for a million dollars. Along with Fulk Lake, Whitetail Realtor Justin Griffin says the property is a “great hunting tract” with “great fishing.”
“It’s a great property with a great few and it comes with a story,” said realtor Justin Griffin. “I think it’d be a perfect place to call home.”
But whatever happened to Oscar? Depends on who you ask. While some same he left the lake others say he still lives in the lake waiting for visitors.
“It kind of just faded into the sunset,” Jones said. “And you know that makes the story really good that way because now that we didn’t catch him you can really make the story sound even better.”
Hear about the frenzy first hand from Chuck Jones, the co-founder Churubusco History Center.
The Churubusco History Center is located at 201 N. Main St in downtown Churubusco. If you would like to learn more about Oscar and see the center’s exabit the center is open Monday, Thursday, and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
To contact Realtor Justin Griffin or learn more about the property click here.