What it was, no one knew, but it was coming and it was coming fast.

What it was, no one knew, but it was coming and it was coming fast.

It shrieked in a high-pitched wail like a Southern Pacific locomotive, as its tentacles wrapped around trees and giant boulders, propelling itself through the water at fantastic speed.

The gigantic sea monster had entered the Rogue River at Gold Beach in the middle of a moonless night, leaving fishing boats bobbing in its wake as it disappeared upstream.

By noon, the slimy behemoth had passed Galice and was headed toward Grants Pass.

Dave Glimmick, a pig farmer, had raced to town in a rattling Model-T to sound the alarm.

"I was a quarter-mile away," he said, "but it must have been 50 feet long!"

Of course, this was the Mail Tribune's front-page April Fool joke of 1924, but the story is just too much fun to resist.

Grants Pass was deserted by noon, the entire population of the town lining the riverbanks hoping to catch a glimpse of this fierce armored reptile. They carried shotguns and rifles, ready to defend their neighbors and protect their families.

To calm the nervous crowd, the Grants Pass Cavemen placed a spear-carrying contingent on the bridge. They grunted and looked threatening in their caveman regalia.

When the beast appeared, it passed by so suddenly that not a shot was fired. No one had time to pull the trigger and, anyway, it was doubtful that a bullet would have penetrated the monster's skin.

In Medford, panic was growing. The creature would surely take a detour at Bear Creek and attack the town.

Captain Cowgill mobilized the National Guard and began hasty and intensive instruction in the use of tear gas bombs.

"If the men get close enough," he said, "the bombs will make this reptile cry itself to death."

Police Chief Adams assured everyone that the fire whistle would blow as soon as "the sea monster reached the city limits. At that point," he said, "it's every man, woman and child for themselves!"

Ashland kindly offered to bombard the monster with Lithia water.

As you might guess, the only person who wasn't worried about impending doom was Mail Tribune City Editor "Romeo" Addison Koppes. Apparently, he was full of his "usual bologna, having fortified himself with a progressive luncheon of that meat."

Reporters asked members of the school board what species of animal this could be. They split into two groups, one calling it a member of the extinct species of pterodactyl, "a flying reptile with a full floating rear axle." The other group speculated it was actually a Roget's Thesaurus.

Orchardist A.C. Allen disagreed, declaring the creature a Cambodian Calliope fish, possessing a vibrating dorsal fin capable of producing a "shrill noise, which is heard for miles, especially during mating season."

And so it went until the ominous ending: "Flash — Marine monster arrives at Medford's Bear Creek Bridge." Then, silence.

Boy, if that doesn't sound better than those bad monster movies we saw as kids.

Bill Miller is a freelance writer living in Shady Cove. Reach him at newsmiller@yahoo.com