A happy ending to the search for Louisville's (in)famous dead cow – The Courier-Journal

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Watch as a drone flies over Louisville and Southern Indiana, showing the extent of flooding that hit the region in February 2018.
MIKE DE SISTI AND SCOTT CLAUSE/USA TODAY NETWORK

UPDATE at 5 p.m.

To all those who may be concerned: We have a cow update!

Our good friend was given a “nice, respectful send-off” last week and went “to where all good, dead farm animals go,” according to Gary Pepper, the Waterfront Park’s facilities manager. (We like to imagine the cow playing in a field with its mom, frolicking among the flowers, but you can use your own imagination.)

Two men wrangled Bessie with a Bobcat and — I’m not making this up — lassoed the cow and hauled her to shore, Pepper said. The cow was temporarily laid to rest in a dumpster. 

Did Pepper know of anyone willing to come pick up a soggy carcass? “Heck no,” he said. “I was calling all over the place.”

A meatpacking plant directed him to one company that only picked up animals in Southern Indiana, which then directed him to another company that took the animal away.

Pepper said this is the second or third cow that’s washed ashore in the past 20 or so years that he can remember. “No pigs, no chickens, no horses. Just cows,” he said, speculating that perhaps cows graze along the shoreline and tumble into the Ohio River. Poor cows. Poor, dumb cows.

Thanks to a Facebook comment tipster who let us know they saw the Waterfront Development Corporation removing the cow from the floodwaters. This Courier Journal reporter will rest easier at night knowing the cow hasn’t floated downriver to haunt other Ohio River towns.

All’s well that ends well. Even when you’re a dead cow.

ORIGINAL STORY from 2 p.m.

Oh, dead cow, we hardly knew ye. 

Louisville’s famous dead cow, it appears, may not have lasted long in its bovine burial ground. Apparently, its final resting place wasn’t quite so final after all.

The cow carcass spotted last week floating in floodwaters near Waterfront Park is nowhere to be found. Public Works isn’t sure where it’s gotten to and, frankly, neither is anyone else. Courier Journal sent one brave, intrepid reporter (me) to search for it on a rainy, windy day this week, but, alas, Bessie had vanished.

Maybe it’s sunk to the bottom of the Ohio River. Maybe it’s udderly sick of the cold temps and is floating south. Maybe it’s mooved on to greener pastures.

A city public works employee visited Bessie’s last known location on Tuesday and couldn’t find it, spokesman Harold Adams said on Thursday. He added that, to his knowledge, no calls had come in about the cow’s next stop. 

“If someone spots it, we’ll come and get it,” Adams said. 

Flood update: Newly reopened roads, trash disposal and more

Map: How much rain fell and where during 5-day Louisville flooding?

(Spots it … get it? Because it’s a cow! It was not immediately clear whether Adams was making an intentional or unintentional pun. What is clear is that all this cow searching has one local reporter more than a little bit slap happy.)

Good Samaritans at Waterfront Park cleaning up trash on Thursday were harangued by the Courier Journal reporter out hunting for a cow carcass: “Have you seen this cow? Do you have any information on its current whereabouts? If you were a cow, where would you be?”

Just kidding about that last one.

Judi Christopher, out trash collecting with a friend, armed with a big bucket and a two-pronged picker upper, wasn’t aware of the dead cow but said she hadn’t seen it. 

“You’re on the hunt for a cow?” she asked, laughing (at me). “Nope, never saw the cow.”

A second woman, also trash collecting out of the goodness of her heart, hadn’t laid eyes on the carcass. It’s probably long gone, she told me, before asking about one other popular animal in #LouisvilleFlood2018: the diving deer.

“I wondered what happened to the deer that was running through and jumped over?” said Kassi Cawood, a Prospect resident. “Where did it go? In that current — as wide as that is and as big as it is?”

I had no answers. We may never know, I said. 

“We won’t, unless we see a dead deer,” Cawood said. “The mysterious dead deer, with the cow! That’s so funny. I’m gonna have to tell my son.”

Related: Dealing with flooding is one price of doing business by the Ohio River

Incredible photos: Aerial images show extent of Louisville flooding

Steve Hoagland, out for a walk at Waterfront, said he and his friend were keeping their eyes peeled for a cow carcass.

They’d spotted a large piece of driftwood that was near where the cow was spotted and wondered if that was it. I wondered that also, I told him. Alas, it was not.

So, the search has stalled. But tips on the cow are always appreciated. Anyone with information is asked to call the anonymous cow hotline at 502-582-4834. 

For now, all we can do is ask: Wherefore art thou, cow? 

Darcy Costello (Cow reporter): 502-582-4834; dcostello@courier-journal.com; Twitter: @dctello. Support strong local journalism by subscribing today: www.courier-journal.com/darcyc.

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