Well, that's a long story... To quote the Rhinelander locals:
Just the fiercest, strangest, most frightening monster ever to set razor-sharp claws on this earth, that's all ... The Hodag made his first appearance in 1896. Gene Shepard, Rhinelander pioneer and timber cruiser, snapped its picture just before the beast sprang at him from a white pine log.
The Hodag is over 7 feet long and 30 inches tall. It has bristly hair and spikes along its backbone and tail. The vise-like jaws will crush anything unlucky enough to get near the Hodag's menacing tusks and needle-sharp claws. You can relax a little (but only a little) because the Hodag chooses to devour white bulldogs exclusively (and only on Sundays).
All right, all right. It ends up that, well, ol' Gene was a bit of a prankster, and maybe he just cooked up the whole Hodag picture and story. It took a visit from the Smithsonian to get the real Hodag goods. Never the less, Rhinelander adopted the Hodag as its mascot, and displays its visage wherever and whenever possible.
Click here to read a quote from Kurt Daniel Kortenhof's very cool book Long Live The Hodag! that gives a better overview of the Hodag.
Just go to Wisconsin, and ask how to get to Rhinelander (everybody there somehow knows...). Follow any and all directions very carefully, and when you get there, look around. You should see the critters lurking everywhere -- especially at the Logging Museum and the Chamber of Commerce. Some of them may be wiggling a bit (and hungry), so look out!
Very astute of you to notice. In fact it comes from McFarland, Wisconsin. Rhinelander is, to put it mildly, not very close to McFarland at all. You may ask: How did it get here? Well, as the Good Book says, You can lead a horse to water, but, hey, so who are you to make him change his mind if he wants to die of thirst?
If you have comments or suggestions, send email to John Koger