The following is an excerpt from J. Nathan Couch’s book Washington County Paranormal, which details the local history and legends of West Bend, WI and surrounding areas. While researching Lizard Mound County Park, he uncovered a report of a giant human skeleton found in one of the burial mounds.
Lizard Mound County Park is a cluster of mounds, many of them burial mounds, located in Hagner’s Woods. They range in shape from simple linear and conical mounds to effigies of birds, panthers—now thought to be depictions of water spirits—and one particularly unique “lizard,” though experts now largely agree it’s actually a turtle.
The people who built these mounds are as mysterious as the mounds themselves. Commonly referred to as the “Effigy Mound Builders,” they lived in Wisconsin and neighboring states between 700 CE and 1200 CE.
Today, the debate over the identity of these mound builders focuses on determining which of the modern-day Native American tribes’ ancestors constructed these beautiful earthen works. However, there was a time when some doubted that the mounds were built by Native Americans at all. Since the natives who lived in the area of the mounds were no longer building them when Europeans first arrived in Wisconsin, it was assumed that some lost culture, or “race,” had to have been responsible. Naturally, this “lost race” must have been eradicated by the current native population. I can’t help but notice this theory of an established culture being displaced by a newer, more aggressive culture mirrored exactly what was happening as Europeans conquered North America.
Posited identities of the “lost race” ranged from the slightly plausible Aztecs to the nearly impossible lost tribe of Israel or the Atlanteans. Early twentieth-century West Bend writer and Washington County historian Carl Quickert subscribed to the “lost race” theory.
In the first volume of Washington County, Wisconsin Past and Present (1912), Quickert writes about the extraordinary discovery of enormous human bones near what is now Lizard Mound County Park. While collecting gravel for road construction, farmers uncovered a cache of bones that, when assembled, formed a skeleton eight feet in height. The skull’s lack of “protruding cheekbones” suggested that it belonged to “a different race of men” than the Native Americans.
As is usually the way when the bones of a giant are discovered, when exposed to air, they quickly disintegrated. Only the skull, which Quickert reports had teeth measuring a full one-inch in length, remained intact. Quickert doesn’t reveal the fate of the giant’s skull, so keep your eyes open next rummage sale season.
Since the skeleton was assembled by farmers instead of archeologists, it seems wrong to take their estimation of size as accurate. It also seems unlikely that the bones could survive being assembled by laymen but soon after be destroyed by contact with the air. It’s much more likely that this was a tall tale Quickert erroneously took as fact.
Quickert supposes the skeleton may have belonged to a people who inhabited “New Iceland” according to the Icelandic sagas. Quickert puts forth the idea that a war erupted between these legendary “Germanic people” and a “Mongolian people”—the Native Americans—which ended in the total destruction of these ancient European giants.
Is this hard to believe? Yes, a bit.
Washington County Paranormal is currently available from Amazon right here.