What is the Hodag? A 7 foot long hairy creature with the head of a frog, the grinning face of a giant elephant, thick short legs set off by huge claws, the back of a dinosaur, and a long tail with spears that roams the Northwoods devouring white bulldogs.
The Hodag was discovered near Rhinelander in 1893 by Gene Shepard, a local timber cruiser and real estate agent. In 1896, Shepard claimed to have captured the creature and displayed it at the local county fair. When the Smithsonian Institute announced that they were sending a group of scientists to Rhinelander to inspect this amazing creature, Shepard admitted it was all a hoax.
But in Rhinelander, the Hodag is much more than a hoax. The Hodag has become the official symbol of Rhinelander and is the mascot of the local high school. The Hodag lends its name to numerous Rhinelander businesses and organizations as well as the annual Hodag Country Music Festival . A huge fiberglass sculpture of the Hodag can be found in front of the Rhinelander Chamber of Commerce.