The Piasa Bird of Alton has terrified and fascinated residents of Illinois for hundreds of years. According to lore, the great bird was once satisfied by deer alone. Later on, when white settlers reached the region, they too experienced the horror and majesty of the Piasa, or man-eating bird. The famed explorer, Father Jacques Marquette, described the monster best in stating that it, “was as large as a calf with horns like a deer, red eyes, a beard like a tiger’s, a face like a man, the body covered with green, red and black scales and a tail so long it passed around the body, over the head and between the legs”.
Urban legends, myths, and mysteries will always have a special place in American culture. Whether the famed bird is real or not, its story is too fascinating to not visit the cliffside rendering on Great River Road in Alton. Head down the road for a chance to see the painting…or maybe even the man-eating bird itself.