From: Mark Hansen
When I was a boy growing up, my grandpa would tell me stories of a giant fish roaming the waters near Trempealeau, Wis., and referred to as “Old Trempy.” Now if you aren’t familiar with Trempealeau, it is a charming, quaint village, nestled on the banks of the Mississippi River, where it seems the sun is always shining, and the birds are always singing. The town is as inviting as the smell of a hot apple pie fresh out of the oven. The residents always seem to greet you with warm smiles. I could go on and on, but back to “Old Trempy.”
The story was local folklore, or so I thought. Sasquatch, the Loch Ness Monster, “Old Trempy,” were all stories about mythical creatures wandering specific areas with rare sightings. As the story went with “Old Trempy,” there were the times when it would be seen jumping out of the water. It was so large that when it landed it caused three foot whitecaps. There were also the times when the Army Corps of Engineers would send divers underwater to do maintenance on Lock and Dam #6, they would surface with a ghostly, ashen appearance, talking of encounters with “a fish as large as a small car.” The stories were so common that Trempealeau even named the town celebration after it—“Catfish Days.”
What makes “Old Trempy” different from Bigfoot, or the Loch Ness Monster, was that “Old Trempy” was caught. Fearing nobody would believe them, local residents decided to make a plaster mold of “Old Trempy.” It was rumored that “Old Trempy” was so large that the local eating establishments of Wasson’s, Sullivan’s, Beedles and the Sportsman’s Club all had fish from “Old Trempy” on the menu for months.
I’m no longer a resident of Trempealeau, but await my return trips there like the anticipation of Christmas time. I now share with my three children the stories my grandpa shared with me about “Old Trempy.” My children would listen, eyes open wide, with a faint look of skepticism on their faces. Only now I can prove to them that this was no tall tale or made up story. You see, Trempealeau has decided to put all doubt to rest, and now displays the plaster replica of “Old Trempy” near the bike trail off Main Street. The next time you hear of one of the stories of “Old Trempy” and have any doubt, just take a drive to Trempealeau and have your family pose with the plaster replica mold of “Old Trempy.” Go and have a bite to eat at Mrs. Sippy’s, or a slice of pizza at Pizza Corral, or dinner at any of the previously mentioned restaurants. Go and get a line wet in Trempealeau. Try to catch a descendant of “Old Trempy” still swimming the waters near Trempealeau to this day or go to spend a day or a few days at Perrot State Park, go take a leisurely drive through the Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge, go and try biking part of the Great River Bike Trail. You don’t need to search too long or hard to find an excuse to visit Trempealeau, but when you do, don’t forget your camera, and stop on down to take your photo with “Old Trempy.”
Great idea Trempealeau, for the catfish display and thank you for all the great memories and the honor to be able to call myself a resident of Trempealeau.