There's a tale told in Wichita Falls, Texas dating back to 1899 about a rampaging elephant and its fate of being buried beneath the city.
Today the tale is told by Mike Cox, who wrote a story for Texas Escapes. Mike claims that a circus was in town during 1899. As a publicity stunt, the circus owner was going to kill an elephant in the town.
Apparently, the elephant had recently killed a second person while on the road. The first death happened a few years prior. So why not have a murder in Wichita Falls? The city was made famous, after all, just three years before this in 1896 for lynching two bank robbers in the middle of town. For more on that story, check out famous historical markers in Wichita Falls.
The circus owner apparently put flyers all over Wichita Falls telling the folks to come help kill the elephant. If this were to happen today, you can imagine that PETA would be all over town. In 1899, bloodthirsty Wichitans just a few years removed from a lynching were all ready to help kill an elephant. According to Mike's story, the elephant was put up on the corner of Brook and Kell.
“Everybody in Wichita Falls who had a shooting iron repaired to the scene,” one newspaper reported. “There were folks with shotguns, revolvers of various kinds and rifles.”
Here is where we get into the real crazy part of this story. The people of Wichita Falls unloaded into the elephant, but nobody had anything strong enough to pierce the elephant's thick hide. Basically, they just annoyed it.
The circus owner had a crazy idea, strangle the elephant to death using two train cars. Yeah, the crazy part of the story. Once again, according to Mike, the elephant was taken to a nearby train track. A thick chain was placed around its neck and two switch engines pulled both ends. This would be the end of the killer elephant.
Now, what do we do with the body? Apparently, someone in town offered to dispose of the elephant, if they could use the skin as a roof. If that hide was stopping bullets, it had to make a durable roof, right? The man buried the animal somewhere in town and allegedly use the skin for a roof somewhere on the corner of Seventh and Austin Street in downtown Wichita Falls.
Mike closes out this story by saying the first good rain in the city shrunk the skin, basically making it useless.