In Ohio folklore, the Loveland frog (a.k.a. the Loveland lizard) is a legendary humanoid frog described as standing roughly 4 feet (1.2 m) tall, allegedly spotted in Loveland, Ohio. According to legend, a local man reported seeing three frog-like men at the side of the road in 1955. In 1972, the Loveland frog legend gained renewed attention when Loveland police officers sighted and killed an animal they later identified as a large iguana that was missing its tail. The frogmen were said to have webbed hands and feet as well.
University of Cincinnati folklore professor Edgar Slotkin compared the Loveland frog to Paul Bunyan, saying that stories about it have been passed down for “several decades” and that sighting reports seem to come in predictable cycles.
In May 2014, the Loveland frog legend was made into a musical, titled Hot Damn! It’s the Loveland Frog!.
According to various legends, the creature was first sighted in 1955, with some versions of the story specifying the month of May. There are three different versions of that story that only differ slightly from each other. The three stories start the same way, with a businessman or a traveling salesman driving along an unnamed road late at night. The stories start to diverge at this point: in one story, the driver was heading out of the Branch Hill neighborhood when he spotted three figures stood erect on their hind legs along the side of the road, each 3 to 4 feet (0.91 to 1.22 m) in height, with leathery skin and frog faces. In the other two versions of the story, the creatures were spotted under or over a poorly lit bridge (there are a number of bridges in Loveland going over the Little Miami river). The story tells of the businessman watching the figures converse for a while until one of the creatures held a wand over its head and fired a spray of sparks, startling the observer into fleeing the scene.
On 3 March 1972 at 1:00 am, Loveland police officer Ray Shockey was driving on Riverside Drive near the Totes boot factory and the Little Miami River when an unidentified animal scurried across the road in front of his vehicle. The animal was fully illuminated in his vehicle’s headlights, and he described it as 3 to 4 feet (0.91 to 1.22 m) long and about 50 to 75 pounds (23 to 34 kg), with leathery skin. He reported spotting the animal “crouched like a frog” before it momentarily stood erect to climb over the guardrail and back down towards the river.
Two weeks after the incident, a second Loveland police officer, Mark Matthews, reported seeing an unidentified animal crouched along the road in the same vicinity as Shockey’s sighting. Matthews shot the animal, recovered the body, and put it in his trunk to show officer Shockey. According to Matthews, it was “a large iguana about 3 or 3.5 feet long”, and he didn’t immediately recognize it because it was missing its tail. Mathews speculated the iguana had been someone’s pet that “either got loose or was released when it grew too large”. According to Mathews, Shockey was shown the dead iguana and confirmed it was the animal he had seen two weeks previously. Matthews recounted the incident to an author of a book about urban legends, but says the author “omitted the part that confirmed that the creature was an iguana rather than a Frogman”.
In August 2016, local Cincinnati TV stations reported that “a night of fun turned into a chilling tale of horror” when two teenagers playing Pokémon Go between Loveland Madeira Road and Lake Isabella claimed to see a giant frog near the lake on August 3 that “stood up and walked on its hind legs”.