Offbeat Adventure

Move Over, Bigfoot: These 12 Mythical Monsters Hail from Across the US

We told you once about how Sasquatch is definitely (maybe) (probably not) out there. But really, that just barely scratches the surface of mythical, magical, and just plain marvelous animals alleged to live in the United States. American cryptids run the gamut from goat-headed demons to birds big enough to block the sun. If you don't want to embark on yet another Bigfoot hunt, why not check your part of the country on the list below and see what else is lurking in your neck of the woods?

Northeast

Pukwudgies

Freetown, Massachusetts: Pukwudgies aren't limited to Freetown, but that's the only city we could find that felt the need to put up a Pukwudgie crossing sign. But what are these little creatures? In a word, trouble. These humanoids only come up to your knee (some versions have them at 3 feet [1 meter] tall), and in Algonquin folklore, they're responsible for child-stealing, harmful sabotage, and sometimes dangerous or deadly pranks. Their temperament varies by traditions, however, and many Algonquin tribes regard them instead as mischievous but not malicious — unless you disrespect them.

The Jersey Devil

Pine Barrens, New Jersey: One of the best-known cryptids in the country after ol' Squatchy, the Jersey Devil has been terrorizing southern Jersey since 1735, if the stories are to be believed. That was the year that a woman known as Mother Leeds uttered a fateful curse upon becoming pregnant for the 13th time: "Let this one be a devil!" After being born, the child transformed into a massive, two-legged creature with huge bat wings, heavy horse-like hooves, and the head of a goat. One of the very first sightings was in 1812 by Joseph Bonaparte — the brother of Napoleon — who followed a set of hoofprints into the woods and allegedly came face-to-face with the hissing creature. There have been sightings consistently since then, including a staggering 1,000 in the year 1909 alone, and the most recent one coming in around 2015.

Learn the full history in the video below, and scroll down for more regional cryptids.

Related Video: Does a Devil Live in Jersey?

Champ

Burlington, Vermont: The U.S. has more than its fair share of lake monsters, just like Scotland's Loch Ness Monster. Champ is the name of the plesiosaur/sea serpent/monster-shaped bundle of sticks that haunts Lake Champlain in Vermont. He's been a part of the landscape for quite some time: Even P.T. Barnum once attempted to capture the creature. In most depictions, Champ is your classic lake monster: long neck, egg-shaped body, four paddles, short tail. And that's how he looks in most of the photos and videos, too. Yes, there's no shortage of Champ pics, as long as you're willing to squint a bit. But two pieces of documentation deserve extra attention. In 1977, a woman named Sandra Mansi took the best-known photo of the beast, and in 2005, a pair of New York fishermen took footage of ... something with a long, snake-like neck following behind their boat.

South

Pope Lick Monster

Pope Lick Creek, Kentucky: Sort of like the Jersey Devil, the Pope Lick monster is a human-animal hybrid with a distinctly demonic appearance. It appears in only one place: the trestle bridge over Pope Lick Creek on the Norfolk Southern Railway. It's a dangerous place to go monster hunting, and not because of the tall, goat-headed creature that's out to get you. See, the train tracks are still in use, and in fact, the Pope Lick monster is said to imitate human voices in order to lure victims in front of oncoming locomotives. Whether the monster is real or not, it's the only one on this list that is verifiably responsible for the deaths of monster hunters.

Wampus Cat

The Appalachians, Tennessee: Wampus cats are said to stalk the mountains across the southern United States, but most of the stories seem to cluster around Tennessee. Still, those stories and the descriptions of the actual animal vary enormously. Everybody agrees that the wampus cat (or catawampus) is at least partially mountain lion. In fact, catawampus may have simply been another name for the creature, which was also called a catamount. However, some descriptions paint it as a half-woman, half-lion, while other versions have it as a pretty normal-looking mountain lion with a few modifications. Some of those latter stories give it a spiked ball at the end of its tail, and others say it has six legs instead of four.

Skunk Ape

Ochopee, Florida: Did you know that Bigfoot has a cousin? In fact, there are about 50 different flavors of Sasquatch: one for each state. But the skunk ape stands out among them as the one with the most fanatical following. Just head on down to the Skunk Ape Research Headquarters in Ochopee if you don't believe it. As you might guess, this ape has a whole lot in common with its more northern relative. The big difference? Its rancid odor.

Midwest

Loveland Frog Men

Loveland, Ohio: The first two sightings of these giant, bipedal frogs happened in March 1972 — and both incidents were witnessed by police officers. Officer Ray Shockey and Officer Mark Matthews both described a creature that was 4 feet (1.2 meters) tall, with textured, leathery skin and the face of a lizard or frog. Shockey saw his first on March 3, and Matthews' frog was spotted playing dead in the street on St. Patrick's Day a couple weeks later. In 2016, a pair of Pokemon Go players may have spotted the descendant of those frogs — right down to the giant eyes reflecting the light of the flash in the photo they took.

The Beast of Busco

Churubusco, Indiana: We probably shouldn't play favorites, but of all the creatures on this list, we believe in the Beast of Busco the most. That's because it's a real animal — just a weird one. In 1898, a farmer named Oscar Fulk spotted an incredible beast on his property: an alligator snapping turtle of monstrous proportions. The story died down for about 50 years, but in 1949, the property's new owner was at the center of renewed interest. Gale Harris said he saw the beast on his land, but when a pair of Churubusco fishermen on Lake Fulk said they saw it too, it kicked off a massive search. They actually drained the lake in hopes of finding the turtle, but to no avail. Still, who can say for sure that the beast didn't just give them the slip?

Mothman

Chicago, Illinois: The original Mothman terrorized West Virginia in the '60s (and was the subject of a pretty heady 2002 movie), but if recent stories are to be believed, a new Mothman is on the loose in the Windy City. In 2017, there were no fewer than 55 sightings of a large winged humanoid swooping over the city streets. If it really is the same creature, or the same type of creature, then Chicagoans should watch out. Its first appearance in 1966 was said to have brought about an infamous 1967 bridge collapse.

West

Thunderbirds

Huachuca Desert, Arizona: Thunderbirds are enormous birds of prey with wingspans measuring anywhere from 10 to 60 feet (3 to 18 meters), depending on who tells the story. With wings like that, you'd expect to see reports of them from all over the country. And in fact, that's exactly what you'll find. The thunderbird plays a major role in many Native American traditions, sometimes acting as a protector of the upper realms and sometimes acting as an arbiter of justice for misbehaving humans. But the thunderbirds of Arizona get a special call-out since they're the ones that were cited in an 1890 newspaper article titled "A Strange Winged Monster Discovered and Killed on the Huachuca Desert."

Shunka Warak'in

Denton, Montana: Like the Busco Beast, Shunka Warak'in most closely resembles a massive version of a known animal. Legends of an enormous, wolf-like creature that haunts the Rockies date back several centuries, and its name in Ioway means roughly "thing that carries dogs away in its mouth." It's described as being similar but not identical to a wolf, and many witnesses describe a hyena-esque appearance. Shunka Warak'in has one more thing common with the Beast: There could easily be a grain of truth to its legend. We may even have two specimens on hand already. One is a taxidermied mount of a creature killed in 1886, and the other is a recently discovered corpse that some scientists have been unwilling to confirm as a full-bred wolf.

Batsquatch

Mount St. Helens, Washington: Sometimes, you don't need a lot of verifiable evidence. Sometimes, you don't need a spooky story. Sometimes, all you need is a name: Batsquatch. You can probably already picture it: a giant, ape-like body, a grotesque, bat-like face, and a pair of enormous membraned wings. Allegedly, it was spotted first right before the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens, but that's not important. What's important is Batsquatch. Batsquatch!

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Where Is Bigfoot?

Written by Reuben Westmaas July 18, 2018

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