12 Horrifying Tales And Legends That Prove Wisconsin Is A Creepy Place

Wisconsin, a state known for its dairy products, is also home to many eerie urban legends and ghost stories. Among these creepy Wisconsin stories is the tale of the Rhinelander hodag, a cryptozoological nightmare beast Sasquatch would probably run scared from. Ghost stories from Wisconsin include haunted bridges, a jogging spirit, and even a tombstone that bleeds. These popular Wisconsin urban legends are sure to excite and terrify. 

Photo: Gourami Watcher / Wikimedia Commons

  • The Rhinelander Hodag

    The Rhinelander Hodag
    Photo: Unknown/Public Domain / Wikipedia

    According to Wisconsin lore, the Rhinelander hodag is a creature found in the northern area of the state, usually around the city of Rhinelander (hence the creature's name). The hodag has a long tail with spears on it, a frog's head with an elephant's face, sharp claws, short and stumpy legs, and the back of a dinosaur. Its diet allegedly consists of white bulldogs. The hodag is reported to be extinct, as the last one was captured and dynamited to death in the 1890s. Given their elusive nature, however, there may still be other hodags out there. 

  • Highway 12 Hitchhiker

    Highway 12 Hitchhiker
    Photo: garrettc / flickr / CC-BY-NC 2.0

    A phantom hitchhiker haunts a section of Highway 12 in the appropriately named Baraboo, Wisconsin. He looks to be from the 1960s, complete with faded jeans and a green army jacket. His hair is dark and long, and he has a beard.

    People have reported seeing him trying to hitch a ride, and then – after they pass him by – a mile down the road he reappears. When people actually stop to give him a ride, he vanished into thin air before reaching their vehicles. Little else is known about this mysterious spirit, but he appears not to be malevolent. 

  • Antigo Alien Encounter

    Antigo Alien Encounter
    Photo: kevin dooley / flickr / CC-BY 2.0

    Strange lights were seen in the sky several days prior to November 17th, 1974; the date of the Antigo, Wisconsin alien encounter. A woman, Mrs. H, was working in a local bar when an unusually short man appeared. She described him as "bouncing" on his way in, and mentioned his burlap jacket and creepy white teeth.

    She believed that he was an alien, because of his odd behavior and the way that he insisted the lights she and others had seen in the sky were caused by a meteor. After asserting this several times, he walked out of the bar and vanished into the night. 

  • Siren Bridge

    Siren Bridge
    Photo: juanignaciosl / flickr / CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

    Siren Bridge is close to Siren, Wisconsin, and home to a creepy family of ghosts. As the story goes, a family was driving home one day when they crashed, went through the guardrail, and died before help could arrive.

    People traveling over the bridge (located on County Highway B), still hear them screaming for help. Even creepier, sometimes people hear a child's voice, crying out for her mommy over the radio of vehicles crossing the bridge. 

  • Lake Winnebago Water Monster

    Lake Winnebago Water Monster
    Photo: Tim Donnelly (TimboDon) / flickr / CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

    High Cliff State Park is home to Lake Winnebago, a popular destination for people who enjoy fishing and other outdoor activities. It's also home to the Lake Winnebago Water Monster, a gigantic fish that apparently swallows moose whole. The legend has its roots in the formerly nearby Winnebago Tribe, which had a village on the shores of the lake.

    Supposedly, the water monster washed to shore at one point and an entire deer, antlers and all, was found in its belly. The lake is allegedly still the home of the water monster's children, equally large fish that just might swallow a person one of these days. 

  • The Ghost Of Paul Malin In Bodega Brew Pub

    The Ghost Of Paul Malin In Bodega Brew Pub
    Photo: Bodega Brew Pub / Facebook

    La Crosse, Wisconsin is home to a 100-year-old bar called the Bodega Brew Pub. The building has seen its share of drama over the century or so it has been in business. A previous owner, Paul Malin, supposedly committed suicide at the bar in 1901. His spirit has haunted the place ever since.

    Patrons report seeing his spectral body floating around, have felt random taps on their shoulders (with no one there when they turn around), and heard plenty of spooky noises. One employee claimed she heard the sound of women's heels on the wooden floors and multiple voices, but only when the bar was closed and she was by herself.