Cowpens, South Carolina may not seem like a town worth noting. At a population of just over two thousand people, the entire town has a total area of just over two square miles of land. One claim to fame the town boasts is being the home of the Battle of Cowpens, fought during the American Revolutionary War. The 1781 battle was a victor for American forces over British troops. The battle site is preserved at Cowpens National Battlefield. Two United States Navy ships were named after Cowpens in honor of the brave battle.
Another claim to fame that the locals are not so proud of are the Wompus Woods, home to South Carolina’s Wompus Monster. The Wompus Monster made its first appearance in the early 1900s. It was said to be a descendent of a similar monster in England during the 1400s due to a similar appearance.
The Wompus Monster was sighted on a South Carolina farm in the 1950s. The farmer was nearly laughed out of town when he reported what he saw. The people could hardly believe his imagination at concocting such a tale. That is, until other farmers began to spot something they just could not deny. It seems the farmer had to use little imagination after all as the twelve foot beast quickly made his presence known.
In most accounts, the beast was found feasting on the raw meat and fresh blood of livestock and stray animals of Cowpens, South Carolina. Described as being between twelve and fourteen feet, the creature had the head of a buffalo and the face of a wolf. Boasting razor sharp teeth and claws, his giant head featured a large golden horn, surrounded by six smaller horns.
The Wompus Monster is so large and muscular that it was spotted running up to a herd of cows, selecting one, quickly and gruesomely slaying it, and hoisting it on his back with little effort while making its way back into the woods. Carrying the animal to a hidden den in the woods, many attempted to locate just the place but with no luck. It seems the Wompus Monster had not only mastered hunting skills, but also disappearing.
While stories originated as early as the 1900s, sightings have continued even over the last fifteen years. Unfortunate hunters have stumbled upon the monster, hidden away in upper swamps, tearing into the skin of a freshly mauled deer. Those who don’t spot it first describe feeling watched in the woods and hear uncomfortable silence as animals hide in fear.
One hunter provides the lone tale of a successful escape from the Wompus Monster. While hunting with his dogs in the woods, he stumbled across the monster. Horrified, he ran to a nearby house, shouting for the owner to let him in as he ran. Feeling the breath of the monster, the man burst through the door and closed it in the face of the monster. The house shuddered against the weight of the beast who was fighting to get in. The owner began reading from the Bible. To their amazement, the creature howled in frustration and went back to the woods. Unfortunately, the yard of the home was littered with mauled livestock. The man’s dogs were found huddled together and shivering in the barn.
Indian lore describes the animal in a different way. According to legends, a beautiful indian woman was overcome with curiosity as the men in her village prepared to take a hunting trip. Women were forbid from going on the trip but she followed anyway. Hiding herself away with a hide, she watched as the tribe men did magic and told scared stories. When she was found by a medicine man, he punished her by binding her to the hide and she was cursed to roam the hills of South Carolina. After her death, an evil spirit lingered, terrorizing residents of Cowpens.
Brave hikers can take part in tours, commonly offered in the Fall around Halloween. However, if the smell of skunk or wet dog wafts through the eerily quiet section of Wompus Woods, a wise traveler will do his best to find his way out of the woods, perhaps more quickly than he came.