The Peninsula Python is a part of the historical lore of the village on Peninsula Ohio. During the summer of 1944, the townspeople reported multiple sighting of what they though was a python that had escaped from a traveling circus. Although attempts were made to capture the snake, it was never found. The story did, however, receive national news attention, and is fondly retold by those living in the area.
The Cuyahoga River takes many twists and turns as it flows
north toward Lake Erie. Along the bank of one of these twists is the village of
Peninsula, Ohio. For the most part, the town has been a quiet village in a largely
rural area between Akron and Cleveland. This calm was overturned during the
summer of 1944 when there was a general panic created by multiple sightings of
a rouge python.
The first mystery in this story is how a pythons, a nonvenomous
snake typically found in Africa, Asia, and Australia, would find itself in the temperate
climate of northern Ohio. Some suspected that the snake escaped from a circus
that had been in the area during the previous month. Others suspected that the
snake was lost from a carnival truck crash in 1942.
Clarence Mitchell was the first to report the snake. “He was
thick as my thigh … and every bit of fifteen feet long – more like eighteen –
sort of brownish spotted. I went over and looked at the track. It was like you’d
rolled a spare tire across my field.” (Bordner, 1945)
Later the Sazlay brothers reported seeing a similar track
when they were preparing a field for planting corn. This siting was followed
two days later when Mrs. Vaughn spotted the snake, “I was up in the second
floor of my hen house and looked out into the yard in back. Right there as a
great big snake trying to get through the woven wire fence, but he had lump in
him bas as a basket, and the lump wouldn’t go through the fence. He reared up
and climbed right over the top of that wire fence – three and a half feet height.”
Knowing the snake was a threat to the wellbeing of the
citizens and livestock of Peninsula, groups of men developed schemes to
apprehend the dangerous intruder.
Dud Watson recommended making a large box with an eight inch
hole and bating it with a chicken. The undigested chicken would keep he python
locked in the box.
Mr. Metcalf, an “expert frog hunter,’ told others, “Quick
throw a leg over him and start steering. Like as not you can ride him right
into town bareback.” (Bordner, 1945)
Thus informed with these and other schemes, Chief of Police
Huey led a posy of men and boys determined to capture the menace. By chance,
they were joined two companies of militia who were engaged in practice drills
unrelated to the reptilian intruder. Despite the good weather and ample team of
hunters, the snake was not to be found.
Random sighting of the python’s existed persisted during the
remainder of the summer. Mrs. Boroutick told others, “I want out back of the
house to throw some trash into the river (the Cuyahoga) and just as I turned to
come back there was a crash in the butternut overhead. I turned just as the big
snake fell with a thump not ten feet from me.” (Bordner, 1945)
As the summer transitioned to fall, sightings of the python
faded. By then, however, the story of the Peninsula Python had become national
The story remains a part of the lore of the village.