In 1923, a prehistoric, 40-feet-long alligator of a beast emerged from a Big Alakali lake near Hay Springs, Nebraska. The thing started devouring calves and flattening cornfields. It also reportedly left behind a peculiar smell—“a very distinctive and somewhat unpleasant odor”—when it reentered the subterranean lair where a man named J. A. Johnson thought the beast lived. At first, the town planned to drag the lake and charge admission to gawkers, but those plans fell through. Shortly thereafter came reports of another curious attraction, found frozen in the same lake: a mermaid.