Not long ago, I was doing some shopping when I overheard a conversation between a little girl (I'm guessing she was about 7 or 8) and her dad about monsters. In particular, monsters in Illinois.

Getty Images

They were standing by a rack of magazines and tabloids at the checkout when I saw her pick up a periodical of some sort that had an "artist's rendering" of Bigfoot on the cover. She held it up to her dad and asked if there are any monsters around here. He responded that there were only "the two-legged kind." Gesturing at the photo, she asked him if he meant like that. No, he said, wanting to put this topic to bed, there aren't any monsters in Rockford. Or Illinois.

Getty Images

I remember asking my dad the same thing, and his reply was similar: "Only the ones we elect into office." Not the best answer to give a little kid, but honestly, he wasn't wrong.

Or maybe, just maybe, that dad and my dad were both totally off with their answers.

Getty Images

If you do a little searching, you'll see that there have been reports of monsters in the State of Illinois dating back all the way to 1673 (which is long before statehood in 1818). The monster from 1673 is the Piasa Bird, described as having horns, red eyes, fish scales, a long tail, and a snarling, bearded face.

RoadsideAmerica.com:

A fearsome monster known as the Piasa (pie-a-saw) once terrorized the Illini Indians near what is now Alton, Illinois. It ate deer at first, but corpses from a war gave it a taste for human flesh. Swooping down, it would snatch victims in its talons and carry them back to a cliffside cave, tearing them apart for dinner. According to one translator, its name meant, "The bird that devours men."

As a matter of fact, it appears that Illinois is chock-full of monsters. Or at least at one time we were. Here's a quick list of some of the other monsters that Illinoisans have claimed to have seen:

The Enfield Horror: The Huffington Post describes it this way:

In April 1973, numerous sightings of a deformed creature having T-Rex-like arms with short claws, pink eyes, gray, slimy skin and three legs attacked a young boy as he was playing in his backyard. Later that evening, the bizarre creature tried breaking into a neighbors home, where it was shot by a man named Henry McDaniel with a .22 caliber pistol. A news director for WWKI Radio supposedly taped the monster’s screams as it ran off, covering 50-75 feet with just three giant leaps and vanished.

Sasquatch/Bigfoot: The Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization, which keeps track of "credible" Bigfoot sightings says that Illinois has the fourth-highest number of sightings in the United States. The Chicago Tribune reports that there have been 16 Bigfoot sightings/run-ins in Cook County since 1967.

I don't have time and space to give more details, but we can't forget about The Cole Hollow Road Monster, The Wolfman of Chestnut Mountain, The Farmer City Monster, or the Tuttle Bottoms Monster.

The Safest Cities in Illinois & Wisconsin

Safewise did a study on the 100 safest cities in America. Eight of them are in Wisconsin and Illinois.

Celebs Share Their Personal Paranormal Stories