“The Bray Road Beast” — A New Film from Small Town Monsters

There are vehicles you see while traveling that just make you feel those inside are on the road to a fun time: a car with surfboards on top; an SUV filled with happy kids; a beer truck. Wherever they’re going, you want to follow them. Then there’s the Small Town Monsters van. Like the scenes of dark and desolate roads that open this independent film company’s documentaries, you get a shiver and a feeling that make you consider taking the next fork that they don’t … unless you’re looking for a great scary and interesting tale of little-known monsters in the tradition Seth Breedlove’s Small Town Monsters team has fast become known for. Then get in the caravan behind them because they’re on the road to a new adventure … but first, watch their new movie, “The Bray Road Beast.”

The trip down Bray Road first takes the audience to two people who know the story well: Linda Godfrey, a reporter whose investigations were the basis for her book, “Beast of Bray Road: Tailing Wisconsin’s Werewolf”; and John Fredrickson, a retired Walworth County animal control officer who was involved in many of the investigations. They do a straightforward and detailed job of telling the history of Elkwood, Wisconsin (with help from members of the Bray family), how they were pulled into the mysterious sightings of the early 1990s, and why the fear and earnestness of the witnesses convinced them that something unusual was in Elkwood. Linda recounts her oft-told story of how something that more resembles a werewolf became known as the Beast and shares a number of little-known facts that add meat to the story.

Speaking of meat, Seth adds meaty bookends to the bookish documentary (it cleverly unfolds as chapters of an ancient tome) with stories of earlier sightings and current ones that add a satanic cult element to the tale with examples of suspicious animal mutilations. In fact, the entire cheese-loving state of Wisconsin becomes a co-conspirator in some of these demonic accounts.

The Small Town Monsters crew moves the story along with plenty of candle-lit scenes, gloomy deserted streets and spooky shots of local landmarks. It’s all narrated by the suitably chilling voice of Lyle Blackburn. Eyewitness accounts are recreated with multiple forms of animation that bring the beast to life … unless the Beast of Bray Road is still alive?

For the answer to that, you have to take your own Bray Road trip with Small Town Monsters. “The Bray Road Beast” can be pre-ordered now on the Small Town Monsters website so you can be the envy of your cryptid-loving mail carrier delivering it after its official release on October 5, 2018.

With this latest installment in the fast-growing library of Small Town Monster documentaries, Seth Breedlove and his team should be thanked for giving lesser-known cryptids some much-needed publicity and helping off-the-beaten-path-monster fans plan their next summer vacation.

Scary Accounts of Real Monsters in the Closet

A recurring fear throughout childhood is that of the monster in the closet and the thing under the bed. What kid hasn’t ever had a Boogieman lurking there in the confines of their bedroom closet, peering out at them to scare and torment? While this may seem to lie firmly in the realm of overactive imaginations and dark child fantasies, what if there is something more to it? What if the closet monsters are real? Some scattered accounts seem to suggest that there may just be more to this all than childhood fears and imagination, and show that maybe something is in there after all.

Stories of strange things in the closet come from all over and take many forms. One account from 1952 seems to involve some sort of imp or gnome, which would come out of the closet at night to terrorize a young boy named Dan Bortko, of Wyandotte County, Kansas, in the United States. The family had moved to a two-story home on a rural farm property in Liberty, Mo. complete with a barn, and from a very young age Bortko claims he frequently saw a small humanoid about 3 feet tall and fully decked out in German lederhosen and with a smoking pipe, lurking about their house, often appearing in his room at night, and frequently stepping out of the closet. The creature would often stand there looking at him before smiling or winking and disappearing through the closet. Bortko also said that he would often look outside his window at night to see “little people” congregating out around the barn. He once drew a picture of the one he had seen up close, and it was so frightening to his little brother that he would cry whenever he saw it. Bortko would say of his first encounter with the creature:

I had just awakened form a nap and was rubbing my eyes and saw what you would call a troll. I’ll call him a troll because that’s what he reminded me of. It was an old man with a long beard, large nose, about three feet tall standing at the foot of my bed. And I was astounded.

It is unclear whether this thing was merely hiding in the closet or using it as some sort of doorway into this world, or even whether this was all just the figment of a young boy’s overactive imagination, but it is quite creepy nevertheless. If it was real, then what was it? Could it have been some inter-dimensional anomaly, some being from another reality? It is hard to say, but there are other reports of strange entities that seem to defy categorization that have been reported lurking in closets as well.

One account comes from True Ghost Tales, and concerns a creature that really defies easy classification. The witness claims that when she was just a girl she had been watching TV in the living room with her mother when they heard her father start frantically screaming for help from elsewhere in the house. They tracked the source of the screaming to the witnesses’ own bedroom and found that the door was locked tight, which was odd considering it was just a plain doorknob with no lock to begin with. They stood there struggling with the mysteriously jammed doorknob while the father shrieked and shouted from within. At the time they thought he was having some sort of breakdown, as he was an alcoholic and had been drinking heavily that night, however, when they finally forced the door open they were to find it was something altogether more bizarre. The witness says of what they saw in that room thus:

My mom struggled for a few minutes trying to open the door. Finally she managed to open the door and we saw my father up in the air like if he was hanging from something then a few seconds later fell feel down. He was so scared that he sounded sober, he told us to get away from there and he ran as far away from my room, when we saw my dad he seemed almost pale looking, he had scratches on his chest as if he got into a fight or something. My mom asked him “What happened to you”? Are you Ok? The only thing that came out of my father’s mouth was, “THE DEVIL, the devil was trying to take me away with him.” At first I thought my dad was only saying that to scare me but he was serious about it, he said that the devil wanted him and was trying to bite his neck. I thought to my self, it sounds more like a vampire than the devil to me, why would the devil want to bite his neck anyways?

The scared family retreated to the living room, where they eventually fell asleep, and the next day the father explained that when he had been in the girl’s room he had seen the closet door open by itself and heard a man’s voice issue forth from the darkness beyond before the incident, after which something dark had emerged and he blacked out. He took them to the room so that they could take a look at the closet, and this is where things get even stranger still. The witness says:

We all went to my room then my dad opened my closet door and we saw this figure of a man standing inside my closet as if it was asleep, its arms were on his chest and he was all black, with long finger nails and he had wings. The weird thing about all this is that a few day later I saw it in my room. I was watching TV in the living room. We had the hall light on so that way it could reflect light into my room, but that night the light only reflected half way. I saw a dark shadow standing in the middle of my room, then he took his hand out and started moving his index finger asking me to come to him with his reddish yellow eyes. I was so scared that I couldn’t move at all. I was screaming for my parents but they couldn’t hear me at all, how could this be they were ten feet away from me? Anyway when I turned my head back to see him he was already next to me. All he did to me was he had lifted me up and he kissed my forehead and my neck, then he left, just like that. We never say IT again, but sometimes when I’m in the dark I feel like someone is there with me.

What could this thing have possibly been? Was it a vampire, a demon, a ghost, something else? It is interesting that the whole family seems to have witnessed it, so it seems beyond just a hallucination or overactive imagination. On the site Phantoms and Monsters there is another account from 2009 of some sort of menacing beast in a closet. The witness claims that he woke up one night suddenly at around 3 AM, and found that he was covered in sweat and overcome with an inexplicable cold fear that was overwhelming in its intensity, although his brother was still sleeping soundly. There also seemed to be a heavy sense of someone there looming near the bedroom’s rather large walk-in closet, and the witness would say of what happened next:

I looked around in my room hoping to see my mom watching over us from the door way of the closet (I don’t know why I thought it would be her but I did). Since our nightlight was on I could see things pretty clearly. I looked to my left to see a tall figure in our closet, it had an oval like head with small eyes and appendages hanging from it’s face almost like a scruffy beard but it made more sense that it would be some type of structure. It looked over the both of us up and down. At first I thought it was my mind playing tricks on me, since I could be very imaginative but what snapped me out of this is when it pushed some of the clothes hangers out the way and the fact that the window was open. It’s skin looked rough and pasty almost like it was in a sauna for two years. It caught a whiff of me being awake and almost immediately I lost consciousness and control over my body. All accounts that were had from that night had not been fully remembered the following morning. Besides the fact that my sheets were in my closet instead of on my bed.

Again, we are left here with a case that seems to be so bonkers that it is beyond an easy explanation. Just what was this thing and why would it be in that closet? Outdoing even these outlandish encounters is another one reported on Phantoms and Monsters, this time by a witness who had just about the strangest thing you could imagine come out of his closet when he was a boy, in around the year 1980. The witness, who claims he is now a paranormal researcher, says that when he was very young he had been trying to get to sleep in the room he shared with his brother, and again this was a room with a big walk-in closet. As he was lying there the closet door began to open by itself, and the witness claims:

One night as I was trying to get to sleep (my brother was already asleep), the door opened and I know this sounds crazy, but out came Big Bird (of the children’s show Sesame Street). I remember being frightened at first, but others came out too and they were very friendly and led me into the closet with them. All I remember at this point is that Big Bird gave me a flavored chap stick (most likely to ease my fear because I loved chap stick), and they brought me back to my bed. I went to sleep very happy over the whole experience and was not afraid anymore. I put the chap stick under my pillow after taking a tiny nibble leaving my teeth marks just to see if it was still there in the morning. The next morning, I checked and low and behold the chap stick WAS there, JUST like I remembered, and at that moment I knew for a fact it was not a dream. If it were not for that chap stick the experience probably would not have stayed with me all these years. I tried to tell my brother, but he laughed it off, as anyone would, it sounds totally crazy. Now, after reading the other accounts of similar experiences, I am wondering if it was an abduction disguised as a friendly interaction.

What in the world? Big Bird? The witness gives an interesting observation, in that he believes it might have been an alien abduction, with the entities taking a form that would seem nonthreatening to a child. This is a feature of some abduction cases, with the beings allegedly able to either shape shift or manipulate perceptions in order to take the form of whatever will best serve their purposes in the eyes of the abductee. Is that what was going on here? How else could we explain an actual character from a children’s show emerging from a darkened closet? It could have been just the imagination of a child, but the fact that the witness remembers it so vividly all of these years later is notable.

Other reports seem to follow a pattern more akin to a traditional haunting, although focused on closets. From Your Ghost Stories comes a reports of just such an experience, from the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. The witness claims that as soon as she moved out of her grandmother’s house, where she had lived for some time, she began having extremely vivid dreams of a “spirit or demon” in the closet of the room in which she had stayed. She says that she had never had these menacing dreams while she had lived there, and that they had only started after she left, as well as growing steadily in intensity. She claims that the house had always been haunted, and says of what happened next:

We just recently moved back in October. Now, I’ve always known this house was haunted. Everyone has. I have had so many different experiences. (For another story I assure you.) Everything seemed fine and normal. The house is old, it creeks all night long. You hear someone calling your name. For me, it is “Belle…” Nothing unusual. I walked passed the room I used to sleep in, now my uncle’s room, the other day, and I instantly felt watched. Chills ran down my spine. I felt in so much danger. I quickly scurried down the stairs and forgot about it not to long after.

 

I would walk by all the time (it’s en route to my room). Every time I walk by, the door creeks open. Even if it is shut the whole ways, it takes force to open that door. I was carrying my cat from my room to the living room with me one morning last week. As we walked passed my uncle’s room, a deep, low, frightening growl came from my cat, then she hissed the meanest hiss, as she kept her eyes locked on the room (the door was wide open, nobody was inside). Recently, my mom has been feeling it too. The door opens slowly when she walks by, and she feels cold eyes watching her.

Another report from the same site is similar in nature, and just as spooky. This report comes from the state of Virginia, from a witness who believes an actual demon inhabited the closet of their master bedroom. The witness claims that odd activity near the closet, including loud bangs and murmuring voices at night, was so intense that he actually put a crucifix up by the closet to try and keep whatever it was at bay and contained. There was even an incident when he says the entity pushed over his young daughter, and it would later lash out at his wife. The witness says of his experiences with the terrifying demonic force in the closet:

It did not take long to figure out that the presence was in a large closet area which adjoined the bathroom and faced directly towards the bed in the master bedroom. The closet area never got natural sunlight and was extremely dark at night. I could feel that something was watching. The crucifix seemed to keep it out of the room but it still stared from the closet. So I did the usual “get out, this is my house,” “I command you to leave.” I felt that this thing was not going anywhere, that it was not scared at all, it was not moving. Not long after that we found a picture of our children on the floor and it had been smashed in the middle of the frame like something was thrown at it. One night while watching TV my wife left for work and I saw a rather large shadow fly out of the bedroom and out towards the car as she was leaving, almost as if it was chasing her. Not long after that she suffered a stroke and a major car accident, both of which left no lasting injuries.

Was this a demon or just a very powerful spirit? It seems like an interesting detail that the crucifix seems to have had some influence on it, but other than that it is hard to know what to make of this account. In another account from Queenies Paranormal Playhouse, is a report from 2005 from a frightened single mother who had just moved into a duplex in the United States with her young son and niece. Almost immediately, on the very first night, they began experiencing paranormal phenomena, such as the bedroom door opening on its own and the children complaining that “something” had touched their legs as they slept. The witness explains:

The second night of our stay, my son and I were lying down shootin’ the breeze in my room. The bedroom door that was cracked half way open had closed, then re-opened. This happened a couple of times, until we finally worked up the nerve to get up and turn on the light. The next night, my son blacked out after having (what seemed to be) a nervous break down about the ghost living in his room and closet. Now, the thing about it, is my son is a big 15 year old, and he does not scare easily! After 20 minutes, he went back to his normal self and cannot remember the incident.That same night, he went to sleep with me, and I woke up to something pulling back and forth on the door knob of my closet.  I screamed, but my son never woke up!

 

Relatives have said that this place gives them bad vibes, and that sometimes, they can hear people talking. Now it is day 28, and last night, my young nephew and I were sleeping, when suddenly, he woke up screaming. He had jumped off the bed, and the bedroom closet swung open in front of him! But this morning, he can only remember standing in front of the open closet… hearing the high pitched scream of a female. I talked to the people who lived in this duplex before me, and they also lived with this ghost. Even after saying prayers and using holy water, the ghost will not leave! I’m a single mother and it took my savings to move into this place. Unfortunately, it seems we’re stuck here for a long time…but this ghost is going to drive us insane!

The United States is not the only place where such encounters have allegedly occurred, and a scary report on Phantoms and Monsters, comes to us from Newfoundland, where the witness claims he lived in the late 1960s at an apartment along a place called Blackmarsh Road. He says that he was 9 or 10 years old at the time, and that he had been living there with his mother, grandparents, and three sisters at the time, and that the road had been rather well known in the area as a place pervaded by ghostly phenomena. He says that although he never actually saw anything ghostly, he sure did hear it, and it seemed to originate from a coat closet in the living room. He says:

Sometimes, due to limited space, I slept on the sofa in the living room. In the living room was a small stove and coat closet. I remember the chimney ran next to the closet. I remember so vividly being woken up between 3-4 a.m. every morning to the sounds of a group of people conversing in the closet. To the best of my knowledge, there were six or seven people. I could not pick out what they were saying, though at the moment I could hear them very clearly. This went on until we moved. I told my mother about this at the time it was happening but, of course, it was dismissed as a child’s imagination until many years later.

He says that after he had moved away and grown up, he heard that his grandmother had also had weird experiences with the voices from the closet, and that she had finally managed to banish them by reciting the Lord’s Prayer aloud. This is an intriguing detail, as like the crucifix in the other account it seems to suggest that religious belief has some effect, whether that is from some higher power or because it helps to focus a person’s will against these forces, that is if these forces even exist at all and this is not all tall tales. And this is a question we are left with, are these just tall tales or something more? What are we to make of real reports of our childhood nightmares of Boogiemen in the closet? Are these just delusions or the effects of sleep paralysis? Are they aliens, ghosts, demons, or something else? It is hard to say, but it perhaps gives you something to think about next time you are in your darkened room alone and the closet is open just a crack.

Exploring Canadian Monsters: Ontario

Ontario is the second largest Canadian province (fourth largest when you count the territories) and the most populated, boasting 38.3 percent of the country’s people. It’s home to Canada’s largest city, Toronto (population 2.7 million) and the nation’s capital city of Ottawa. The main topographical traits of the province are forests to the north (66 percent of Ontario is composed of forestland), farmland to the south, and water. Lots and lots of water. Most of Ontario’s border with the United States is either composed of rivers or four of the Great Lakes. Famous people from Ontario include actor Dan Aykroyd, World War One flying ace William “Billy” Bishop, director James Cameron, the band Rush, journalist Peter Jennings, hockey player and co-founder of the Tim Hortons restaurant chain Miles Gilbert “Tim” Horton, the first prime minister of Canada Sir John A. Macdonald, Superman co-creator Joe Shuster, “The Lone Ranger” actor Jay Silverheels, and the first female doctor in Canada Dr. Emily Stowe. It’s also the final resting place of Jack Fiddler. As the story goes, Fiddler was a killer of Wendigos.

 

Wendigo

The wendigo, a creature feared for centuries across Canada and the northern United States, is a monster that was once a man. The man, during a time of starvation, fell victim to the will of an evil spirit and resorted to cannibalism. A wendigo appears as a tall, emaciated, two-legged creature with bones pushing against its skin. The beast has glowing red eyes and the head of a deer.

Wendigo killer Jack Fiddler was bornZhauwuno-geezhigo-gaubow in 1839 to the Anishinaabe people in northwestern Ontario. The Anishinaabe were the last indigenous people of Canada to live under their own rule. He gained the name Jack Fiddler (and his brother the name Joe Fiddler) from white fur traders who gave First Nations people European names.

Jack, a shaman, was revered for his ability to protect tribes from spells and was known to be able to summon animals to him. He was also said to have defeated fourteen wendigos, some sent by hostile tribes, others were his own people who had succumbed to cannibalism (although a few Anishinaabe who wanted to eat human flesh had not and simply asked to be killed before they did).

In an effort to bring the Anishinaabe under Canadian law and to convert them to Christianity, in 1907 the North-West Mounted Police were sent into the region to arrest Jack and Joe Fiddler for murder. Jack Fiddler killed himself in captivity. During Joe’s trial, a witness to one of the wendigo killings, Angus Rae, told the court the Anishinaabe people honestly believed in wendigos and that the Fiddler brothers were the only ones who could rid the world of their evil. Joe Fiddler was sentenced to death in 1909.

 

A photograph allegedly of Old Yellow Top taken in 1923.

Old Yellow Top

When silver miners founded the town of Cobalt in September 1906, they discovered the area came with an unexpected resident – a 2.1-metre-tall ape-like creature with a mop of yellow hair on its head. People reported seeing the monster for sixty-four years.

Two prospectors, J. A. MacAuley and Lorne Wilson spotted the creature in July 1923 testing their claims for silver. They both thought they saw a bear in a blueberry patch near the town, but it was Wilson who picked up a rock and threw it at the beast. The creature stood upright on two legs and the men saw it was no bear. It resembled an enormous man covered in black fur except for a blonde mane that fell from its head across its shoulders.

Old Yellow Top wasn’t through with Cobalt. In April 1947, a woman and her son walked along the railroad tracks toward town to grocery shop when the mother saw what she also thought was a bear. It was not. A monster that walked like a man went across the tracks in front of them taking no notice of the two. She said it was covered in dark brown hair except for a yellow patch on its head.

The last sighting was in August 1970. A bipedal creature walked across the road in front of a vehicle carrying miners. The driver, Amos Latrielle, lost control of the vehicle and nearly drove it off a rise. Like the other accounts, the monster had dark fur except for a long, blonde head of hair.

 

Dogmen

Stories of dogmen – two-to-three-metres tall canines that can walk on two legs – have been reported across North America for centuries. They’re still reported and quite a few come from Ontario.

Per the blog of Linda Godfrey, author of “The Beast of Bray Road,” and other books about dogmen, a man fishing near Bancroft, Ontario, saw something he couldn’t rationally explain on 7 July 2015.

He drove to his cabin in the woods when the headlights of his truck hit what he thought was a man standing on the gravel road. The truck was equipped with extra lights on top and when he switched them on, he saw something that was not a man.

“It was a creature about seven feet tall, black with greyish-silver parts, hunched over with a dead rabbit in its hands,” he explained to Godfrey. “Its feet seemed to be bent backwards. It turned its head and shoulders and looked right at me. I could see its yellow eye shine.”

The beast growled at the fisherman when he decided to floor it, driving straight at the creature which simply disappeared; whether by jumping out of the way or ducking flat under the high clearance of the truck the man didn’t know. The creature wasn’t through with the fisherman, however. The man said something large prowled around his cabin later that night.

From the website dogmanencounters.com, a woman named Eleanor described her dogman encounter from Fall 2014. She drove west toward Hamilton, Ontario, when she saw a dog shoot from the bushes on the side of the road and run out in front of her. This “dog” was at least two-and-a-half-metres long, not including the tail.

 

Photograph of Ontario’s version of the Montauk Monster.

The Ugly One

In early May 2010, two nurses walking their dog on the shores of Big Trout Lake near the town of Kitchenuhmaykoosib, Ontario, found the corpse of an unknown animal amateur cryptozoologists on the internet dubbed the new Montauk Monster (it resembled the corpse of a mysterious animal discovered on a beach in Montauk, N.Y. in 2008). However, legends of the local First Nations people, the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug, have the lake home to everything from mermaids to a giant serpent to something that resembles what the nurses discovered.

“…our ancestors used to call it the Ugly One. Rarely seen but when seen, it’s bad omen, something bad will happen,” per an article in Science.

The creature, dragged from the water by the nurse’s dog, had a long hairy body with bald patches on its head, feet and tail, which was “like a rat’s tail and it is a foot long,” per a story in the U.K.’s Daily Mail. The nurses, who had no idea what it was, snapped a number of photographs of the beast that made their rounds on the internet.

People speculated the animal could be anything from a raccoon, an opossum, an otter or, maybe, just maybe, the Ugly one.

 

Lake Ontario Monster

It sounds like it’s right out of a Godzilla movie. The Seneca Indians of Lake Ontario had a legend of an enormous creature, the Gaasyendietha, that lived in the lake. It was shaped like a giant serpent with massive teeth – it could also fly and spit fire. Oh, and the Gaasyendietha’s favorite meal was people.

The Seneca weren’t the only ones to see this monster. Per the 14 August 1829 Kingston Gazette and Religious Advocate, European immigrants claimed to have seen a “hideous water snake, or serpent, of prodigious dimensions” near what is now St. Catharines, close to Niagara Falls. The newspaper went on to claim “there can be no doubt of the existence of such monsters in our inland seas.”

On 1 July 1833, the captain of the schooner Polythermussaid he saw a 53-metre blue serpent in the lake, and in 1842 boys playing near Gull Beach claimed to have seen something similar, although brown and somewhat shorter at 12 metres.

Other reports came from 1872 to the 1930s, but they seem to have tapered off over the decades.

Similar stories of monsters in lakes throughout the region are too numerous to mention – with the exception of Igopogo.

 

Photograph of Igopogo taken in 1976.

Igopogo

Legend has it that a monster lives in the waters of the 41-metre deep Lake Simcoe in southern Ontario (about 64 kilometers north of Toronto). The lake, the fourth largest that rests entirely in Ontario, has ‎240 kilometres of shoreline and is the perfect size for a creature. Igopogo, named after the more famous lake monster Ogopogo of British Columbia, is shier than its western cousin; only a handful of sightings are on record. Sightings became so rare that until a sighting in 1991, the people who lived around the lake thought Igopogo had died.

It is described as looking like a seal, but one that is 18 metres long. Its face is like a dog with bulging eyes. The body has multiple dorsal fins and the tail of a fish.

To the area First Nations tribes, Igopogo is known as an invisible, but noisy, god. Igopogo is also known as Kempenfelt Kelly, named after a deep bay in the lake, and Beaverton Bessie by the city of Beaverton.

Some of the more famous sightings by Lake Simcoe-area residents occurred in 1952 and 1963. A study of the lake resulted in a “sonar sounding of a large animal” in 1983, per LiveScience.com. A monster hunter captured what he claimed was video footage of Igopogo in 1991. In 2005, Discovery Canada’s program “Daily Planet” attempted to flush out the monster using a boat with an underwater camera and sonar, although the crew didn’t find anything out of the ordinary.

 

Toronto Tunnel Monster

Legends of hairy, child-sized humanoids that live in the waterways of Ontario stretch deep into the history of the Algonquian tribes. When the city of Toronto was built over numerous streams and rivers, they think these water spirits, the Memegwesi, may have become hidden beneath the city as well. Those streams and rivers still exist, running through the sewers and culverts under Toronto.

Although the Memegwesi were known to be easy-going creatures, when offended, they would steal objects from the tribe or send canoes adrift. And what would be more offensive than being buried?

In 1978, a Toronto man reported an encounter with one of these creatures, per the 25 March 1979 Toronto Sun. The man, who would only allow to be identified as “Ernest,” went looking for missing kittens when he crawled about two metres into a culvert. “I saw a living nightmare that I’ll never forget,” he told The Sun. The creature was “long and thin, almost like a monkey, three-feet long, large teeth, weighing maybe 30 pounds with slate-grey fur.” Its eyes glowed orange. The thing hissed at Ernest, telling him to “go away” before it ran deeper into the darkness.

Ernest’s wife Barbara told The Sunher husband came back to their apartment visibly shaken. “I believe Ernie saw exactly what he says he did,” she said.

When Sunreporters investigated Ernest’s claim, they discovered the culvert emptied into the city’s sewer system – and they found a dead cat.

Next up: Prince Edward Island.

Monsters of the Very Weird Kind

For Loch Ness Monster chaser Ted Holiday, the plesiosaur, giant eel, and massive salamander theories were flawed and lacking in substance. He came to the somewhat unusual, and certainly unique, scenario that the Nessies were gigantic versions of everyday slugs. The biggest problem with Holiday’s theory was that it was beset by issues that made it most unlikely to have merit. For example, the specific kind of invertebrate that Holiday had in mind – Tullimonstrum – only grew to lengths of around lengths of fourteen inches. On top of that, it lived solely in the muddy landscapes of Pennsylvania, USA. None of these seemingly important points appeared to bother Holiday in the slightest, who continued to pursue his theory with a great deal of enthusiasm.

Artist depiction of Tullimonstrum

Such was the level of gusto that Holiday mustered, by 1968 he had written an entire book on the subject of his pet-theory. Its title: The Great Orm of Loch Ness (“orm” being a centuries-old term meaning “worm”). There’s no doubt that Holiday made a brave case for the theory that the Nessies were gigantic invertebrates. The problem was that his book was entirely based on supposition and speculation. Nevertheless, he did make the valid point that whatever the Nessies might be, they were almost certainly responsible for the many and varied legends of dragons seen roaming the United Kingdom hundreds of years earlier. In that sense, Holiday believed the orms of Loch Ness were merely one colony of a creature that was far more widespread in times long gone. On that issue, he was almost certainly correct. Indeed, Loch Ness is far from being alone when it comes to the matter of monsters in the United Kingdom. The age-old sagas of the Linton Worm and the Wyvern of North Wales’ Llyn Cynwch Lake being famous, classic examples.

Holiday’s book became a big talking point among the Nessie-seeking community. Specifically because he was positing such an unconventional scenario and, essentially, giving the middle-finger to the champions of the plesiosaur, giant eel, and salamander scenarios. It was right around the time that his book was published, however, that Ted Holiday found his world turned upside down and filled to the brim with weirdness. Which was rather ironic, given just how much time and effort had gone into the writing and production of his book. And that weirdness only increased exponentially, and to where filled to the brim was replaced by absolutely overflowing.

Tullimonstrum gregarium fossil

Even though Ted Holiday sincerely believed that the Tullimonstrum gregarium theory had merit, he wasn’t able to shake off that deep, foreboding feeling that there was something more to the Loch Ness Monsters, something which – rather paradoxically – implied they were flesh and blood animals, but ones with supernatural qualities. It was a feeling that would, ultimately, become a full-blown, unhealthy obsession, and one that pretty much dictated the rest of his short life and research.

By the time The Great Orm of Loch Ness was published, Holiday had not only been to the lair of the Nessies on numerous occasions, he had also had the opportunity to speak to many witnesses to the beast. In doing so, he noticed a most curious, and even unsettling, pattern. There were far more than a random number of reports on record where eyewitnesses to the creatures had tried to photograph them, only to fail miserably. As time progressed, it became abundantly obvious to Holiday that this was not down to chance. When an excited soul on the shore went to grab their camera, the beast would sink beneath the waves. When someone even just thought about taking a picture, the monster would vanish below. On other occasions, cameras would malfunction. Pictures would come out blank or fogged. It was as if the Nessies were dictating, and manipulating, the situations in which the witnesses found themselves. That is exactly what Holiday came to believe was going on.

By 1969, his life was dominated by weird synchronicities – meaningful coincidences, in simple terms – something which led Holiday to question both his sanity and even the very nature of reality itself. What had begun as an exciting hunt for an unknown animal was now rapidly mutating into something very different. Something dangerous and supernatural. Ted Holiday died young in 1979.

Real Lake Monsters or Creatures of the Mind?

Just a few days ago I wrote an article here at Mysterious Universe which posed a controversial question: could UFOs be Tulpas, the creations of the human mind and brought to a very strange form of life? Today, I’m going to address the matter of lake monsters possibly being Tulpas. Or, at least, some of them. Before you write the whole scenario off, consider the following, three accounts that I have used to make a case. You may well disagree with me, but let’s take a look at the data.

For those who aren’t familiar with the concept of the Tulpa, there’s this from the “Tulpa.info” website: “A tulpa is an entity created in the mind, acting independently of, and parallel to your own consciousness. They are able to think, and have their own free will, emotions, and memories. In short, a tulpa is like a sentient person living in your head, separate from you. It’s currently unproven whether or not tulpas are truly sentient, but in this community, we treat them as such.”

We’ll begin by taking a trip back in time to the latter stages of the 1960s. It was  an evening in February 1968 when all hell broke loose at a body of water in Ireland. Its called Lough Nahooin. It all began at around 7:00 p.m., when a man named Stephen Coyne took a walk down to the lough. The reason, as Nessie-seeker Ted Holiday noted, was to “bring up some dry peat.” Also with Coyne was his young son and the family’s dog. As father and son reached the water’s edge, they couldn’t fail to see a dark-colored “thing” moving in the water. The dog noticed it too and began to bark.

According to Holiday: “He then saw that the object was an animal with a pole-like head and neck about nine inches to a foot in diameter. It was swimming around in various directions. From time to time it put its head underwater; two humps then came into view. Occasionally, a flat tail appeared. Once this came out near the head which argued length and a high degree of flexibility. The thing was black, slick, and hairless with a texture resembling an eel.”

As the dog continued to bark, the mysterious animal swam towards it – which was not a good thing. Coyne quickly moved to protect his faithful pet and the animal retreated further into the water. Mrs. Coyne was soon on the scene too and – like her husband and son – looked on amazed at the sight before her. Eventually, and as darkness began to fall, the family decided to return to their home. They left the beast to its patrol-like activities. Both Mr. and Mrs. Coyne told Ted Holiday that the monster was around twelve-feet in length, had a noticeable neck, and a whitish mouth. The family never saw it again.

Of course, many might say that such an encounter is not unlike what one might expect to occur at Loch Ness, Scotland. Well, yes. But, there’s just one problem. And, it’s a big one. Loch Ness is around 22-miles long and extremely deep, and which is plenty of room for a colony of animals to live in. Lough Nahooin, though, is roughly three hundred feet by two hundred. And, it’s only around twenty feet in depth. Of course, the idea that a twelve-foot-long animal could somehow live in such a small body of water, and never, ever be captured, photographed or seen by numerous people is crazy. And, there’s the important matter of where it suddenly came from. In fact, the whole thing is absurd. Except for the fact that the Coyne family was highly credible and impressed Ted Holiday with what they had to say.

This absurdity of lake monsters seen in ridiculously small bodies of water is something that crops up regularly. Years ago I spoke with a man named Norman Dodd, who had a bizarre encounter with a Nessie-like thing in England’s Cannock Chase woods in the summer of 1976. Dodd was parked near a pool of water – maybe twenty feet by thirty at the very most – in the vicinity of a nearby village called Slitting Mill, eating his lunch on what was a hot and sunny day. To his horror, a strange animal crawled out of the pool. Around seven feet in length, it was snake-like, but had – as Dodd described it – either “feet” or “flippers.” The absurdity of him seeing the animal close to bustling villages and towns was not lost on Dodd. He found the whole thing surreal. He stared with amazement, as the animal seemed to “bask” in the sun for a while, after which it made its way back into the little pool, and with barely a splash at all.

Then, there was the matter of a strange affair that went down – also on the Cannock Chase – in early 2006. The Birmingham Post newspaper was soon on the story and published the following: “In March, 2006, ramblers reported seeing a ‘fourteen-foot snake moving through the bracken’ near to Birches Valley. They said the beast had a powerful head and ‘coloring that stood out sharply against the greens and blues of the bracken.’”

I was fortunate enough to speak with one of the witnesses, a woman who thought that the animal was far more eel-like than it was snake-like. Interestingly, for years researchers have suggested that perhaps the Nessies are massive eels, rather than surviving plesiosaurs or unknown animals. Needless to say, the idea that a fourteen-foot-long eel – or even a number of them – could live in stealth in the woods, streams and pools of the Cannock Chase is nuts. But, just like with the saga of Norman Dodd, I was impressed by the woman’s words, who I met while I was back in the U.K. in 2006, for about 5 months.

All three accounts are fascinating. And they most assuredly mirror what has been reported at lakes all around the world. The problem with these cases is the size of the body of water in which the creature was seen. Or, rather, the distinct lack of size. I grew up only around seven or eight miles from the Cannock Chase and I can say for sure that the idea that Nessie-style monsters – and huge eel-like animals too – are roaming around the woods is beyond unlikely. Yet, people see them. The same goes for the incident at Lough Nahooin, Ireland in 1968.

All of which brings me back to the matter of Tulpas: could it be that a dark and mysterious body of water – even a small one – might provoke visitors to ponder on the possibility that within that same body of water lurks something mysterious and strange? And, if enough people ponder on such a scenario, then, just maybe, there’s a trigger that leads to the creation of a Tulpa – perhaps only briefly, and in the form of a creature far more suited to the likes of Loch Ness, rather than Lough Nahooin and the Cannock Chase.

Just a theory? Of course! Is there any hard evidence for this theory? Nope, not even a single bit. But, consider this: thousands and thousands of people visit Loch Ness every year. They’re all there to hopefully see Nessie. Maybe, when people do see Nessie, they’re not seeing a living animal, but something born out of the imagination, out of a yearning to see something monstrous, and out of the minds of huge throngs of excited visitors – all focusing on a monster and nothing else.

Exploring Canadian Monsters: Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia, one of the four provinces of the Atlantic Canada region, is small. Really small. With an area of 55,284 square kilometres (which includes nearly 4,000 islands), it is the second smallest province, just after Prince Edward Island. To put it in perspective, Nova Scotia is about the size of the state of New York with a population (nearly 950,000) close to that of San Jose, California. The province is within the Appalachian Mountains and features low mountain ranges and hills, along with forests, lakes, barrenand sea coast. The province is known for its fossils, the rock group April Wine, the first man to sail solo around the world Joshua Slocum, the first black world boxing champion George “Little Chocolate” Dixon, Samuel Edison (the father of Thomas Edison), singer Anne Murray and lots and lots of sea creatures.

 

Sea monsters

Sea monsters are not just tales from the imaginations of superstitious sailors. Encounters with these aquatic beasts have been reported by motorists, vacationers, and working people, like this 2003 encounter a lobster fisherman reported near the lighthouse at Point Aconi, Nova Scotia. Wallace Cartwright saw what he thought was a floating log until one end of the log rose from the water – and it had a head.

“It looked to me like it was a brown animal. It had a head … something shaped like a sea turtle,” Cartwright told CBC Radio’s ‘As It Happened’ program. “And it had a body on it like a snake, and the girth on the body would be something like about like the size of a five-gallon bucket.”

The brownish snake-like creature, about eight metres long, eventually dipped back into the water and disappeared.

“I have been lobster fishing for 30 years. This was one distinct animal,” Cartwright told the CBC. “One I’ve never seen before.”

Stories of sea monsters in the waters of Nova Scotia date back to First Nations legends. Zoologist Andrew Hebda, curator of zoology at the Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History, wrote in his book, “The Serpent Chronologies: Sea Serpents and other Marine Creatures from Nova Scotia’s History,” that the local Mi’kmaq people carved images of these beasts into stone.

“If you go down to Keji you can actually see three petroglyphs that clearly have sea serpent motifs,” Hebda told the CBC.

The first sea monster encounter by a European in Nova Scotia was recorded by Irish monk St. Brendan who travelled to Canada in the sixth century. He wrote in his diaries of a water beast so enormous he and the other explorers didn’t recognize it as a living creature – at first. The group landed on an island that turned out to be Janconious, a legendary monster of the region.

Hebda told the CBC there have been 31 sea monster reports from Nova Scotia during the past 140 years. He dismisses most of them as misidentified basking sharks.

 

The Sea Monster on the Northumberland Strait

Although sea monsters abound in the waters off Nova Scotia, a monster was busy on the Northumberland Strait in the mid-1800s. The Northumberland Straight separates Nova Scotia and New Brunswick from Prince Edward Island. It’s between 17 and 65 metres deep and has some of the warmest ocean waters in Canada.

Millwright William Barry fished off a pier in the small village of Arisag, Nova Scotia, in October 1844 when he saw something unusual. An unknown living beast, about 18 metres long and one metre around, swam near the pier. “It had natural humps on the back, which seemed too small and close together to be bends of the body. It moved in long undulations, thus causing the head and tail to appear and disappear at intervals,” per The New Glasgow News.

A similar report came from Merigomish Harbour west of Arisag the next August. Several people on the beach reported seeing a 24-metre-long serpent in the strait. “It was dark in colour and very rough and it raised its head frequently from the water, and its back was either covered with humps or they were caused by the motion of the body,” per newspaper reports. People observed this creature frolicking in the water for an hour. “It withered about continually and would bend its body into a circle and unbend it with great rapidity. It eventually succeeded in getting off into deeper water.”

Captain Sampson of the ship Louise Montgomery reported seeing the creature in July 1879 16 kilometres east of Pictou Island.

 

Lake Ainslie Monster

Cape Breton Island’s Lake Ainslie is Nova Scotia’s largest natural freshwater lake. At 20 kilometres long and five kilometres wide, this ‎18-metre-deep lake has plenty of room for the Tcipitckaam (or Jipijka’m – the horned serpent), a monster out of Mi’kmaq legends.

Wilson D. Wallis wrote of a man’s encounter with a group of the Tcipitckaam of Lake Ainslie in his book, “The Micmac Indians of Eastern Canada.” This man was at the lake with his family when the Tcipitckaam rose from the water.

“The male was black and probably was larger; the other, brown, was the female. The head is shaped somewhat like that of a horse, but is larger.”

This water creature often appears as a tiny worm, but when hungry or threatened it can transform into a ferocious monster the size of a bison, per The New Glasgow News.

 

Green Hill Creature

What would a Canada monster story be without Bigfoot?

In 2003, teenager Myles MacKenzie heard a noise in the woods that rumbled through his body. It came from a living creature, but no living creature he’d ever experienced, per The New Glasgow News.

Myles ran cross country for his high school team and one day his father, track coach Stephen MacKenzie, drove Myles and some other boys to Green Hill Provincial Park to practice. Myles’ life changed that day.

As the boys ran through the woods, the day suddenly went silent. The sounds of birds, insects and even the wind had died. Then something screamed nearby.

“It scared us half to death,” Myles told the press.

The boys took off toward the top of the hill and the van Stephen had driven them in, but the screaming beast ran too, chasing them.

Myles and his friends suspected the beast that followed them was a Sasquatch, but became convinced when he heard the stories of a monster that reappears in the area every 50 years.

A 5 August 1913 article in The Thorburn Post reported a monster that drinks milk from cows and raids chicken coops leaving deep 15-inch-long human-like footprints.

Mrs. Ervin MacKay of rural Thorburn told The Thorburn Post in 1913, “There’s something evil out there. Something big and shadowy and it scares the bejeebers out of me.”

Next up: Ontario.

Some Very Weird Mystery Monsters from Pennsylvania

It seems that every state in the Union has its share of strange mysteries and unexplained phenomena. Indeed, no matter where one goes in the world there are bound to be regional legends and enigmas that defy rational explanation. One place that seems to have a wealth of strange reports is the U.S. state of Pennsylvania, and although it already has a good amount of Bigfoot reports here we are set to look at something altogether more bizarre.

The rivers of Pennsylvania have long had their fair share of mysterious creatures, in particular the Monongahela, which flows for 130 miles from Pittsburgh where it then joins the Allegheny to go on to form the Ohio River, stretching down to the north-central part of West Virginia. Natives of the area have since time unremembered had stories of something fierce and monstrous lurking in these waters, creatures which they called the Ogua. Descriptions of this beast vary, with some saying it is rather like an enormous turtle measuring around 20 feet in diameter, while others say it is more like a giant alligator or serpent, and some have even said that it has two heads, but all accounts share one thing in common, and that is that the thing is highly predatory.

The Monongahela River

The lore has it that the Ogua would creep forward from an underwater cavern lair to lurk near shore and lie in wait for an unsuspecting animal or even a person, after which it would lurch forward to drag its prey into the water and swallow it whole with its enormous mouth, sometimes using its powerful tail to lash out and stun the victim. At night it was said that the creature would heave itself up onto shore and wallow about in the mud or go off hunting for more meat. It was apparently often seen to snatch deer from the shore, with deer said to be its favorite food, although there are plenty of stories of these things taking pretty much whatever is unfortunate enough to get near them. In the book Wild & Wonderful (and Paranormal) West Virginia, by Denver Michaels, there is an account written of by a witness in the 1700s, which reads:

There is an animal in this country which excites the imagination of all who have had the opportunity to view it; being amphibious it resides in the water during the daytime, but at night repairs to the land in quest of its prey; which are deer. They lie in the deer paths undiscovered, behind an old stump, until the deer, unaware of its enemy, passes over him; this creature immediately seizes him, and entangling him in its tail, which is 15 feet in length, and not withstanding all the deer’s exertions to free itself, draws him in the water, where he drowns and devours him.

 

Some of our men lately discovered one of the formidable creatures early in the morning with its prey, of which they informed some of the company who were nigh; they soon came up with him and killed the giant beast with clubs. The monster weighed 444 pounds. They lurk in deep underwater caves with no bottom and their head resembles a giant turtle. Woe to any man who chances upon one of these formidable predators unarmed. The Indians call them Oguas.

Sightings of these beasts have continued all the way up into modern times, with two notable sightings occurring in 1983. One was from a fisherman who claimed to have seen a reddish brown creature with “razor-sharp teeth and a long, flat tail that whipped the water into foam,” and another was from a fisherman named John Edward White, who in the summer of that year had a rather bizarre encounter while fishing for catfish on the river. Things began to get strange when there were inexplicable ripples on the water surface, followed by the sight on countless small fish leaping from the water in an effort to get away from something down below. As the startled fisherman looked on in confusion an enormous fin then burst forth from the water, followed by a long tail that swept across the surface to thrash at the water before disappearing back down into the depths.

Although sightings today of the Ogua remain rare, the legends still continue, and we are left to wonder what this could possibly be. It has been theorized that this is just pure folklore and an urban legend, a story told to frighten children in the old days to keep them from straying to far and trying to go into the river. There is also the possibility that these creatures could be particularly large snapping turtles, some oversized catfish, or an out of place intruder such as a crocodile. It is hard to say for sure.

Interestingly, in the Monongahela River there is said to lurk a half-man, half-fish monstrosity called “Monongy,” which was apparently sighted quite frequently by British forces during the French and Indian War (1754-1763), even attacking them, and has been allegedly seen in the river all the way up into present day. A particularly intense wave of sightings of these “gill-men” occurred throughout the 1930s all the way up to the 1950s, during which sightings were so common that the Pittsburg Police actually launched an intensive investigation into the phenomenon, with a whole task force devoted to dealing with the deluge of sightings. As recently as 2003 there was supposedly a sighing of one of the creatures and photos taken, which were later mysteriously removed form online, sparking talk of a cover-up.

Adding to giant river monsters and fish-men are various enormous snakes that have allegedly been seen in the wilds of various areas across south central Pennsylvania since at least the 1830s. These outsized serpents are typically said to be up to 20 feet in length and around a foot in diameter, with dark coloring punctuated by bright yellow markings. One notable spate of sightings of such massive serpents allegedly happened in the vicinity of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania in April of 1833, and witnesses described how the serpent would move along while holding its head aloft several feet off the ground.

Some creatures reported from Pennsylvania are even more bizarre still. According to paranormal researcher Stan Gordon, on April 26, 2012 a man and his girlfriend were driving at night along a rural road called Mud Creek Road, near the town of Troy, when they had a life-changing, terrifying encounter with something truly outlandish. They at first saw some movement from the side of the road, which the girlfriend took to be a person possibly crawling about on the ground, and they pulled over the car to see if it was someone who needed help. As they approached, what bloomed from the darkness into their headlights was most certainly not a man, nor anything else they could have possibly imagined, and Gordon would write of this:

They soon realized that this was not a person, but instead a creature that was crawling very low to the ground. As they watched, the creature moved into a squatting position with its back completely straight, somewhat like the stance of a kangaroo. The arms of the creature where held tightly to its body. What looked like long claws that resembled the talons of an eagle were easily visible. The claws were estimated to be about 8-10 inches in length. One claw was shorter than the other three. The creature had a muscular body. The head of the beast appeared to be oversized and shaped like that of a wolf. At the top of its head were two pointed bat-like ears that looked to be about 4-6 inches long. The entire creature, according to the man, was covered with “dull wrinkly dark black skin”. The man described seeing large canine-like teeth in its mouth.

 

The eyes of the creature were about the size of a silver dollar and were shiny black. The man stated that even though he had his high beams directed at the creature, the eyes did not reflect at all. The man said he looked over the body during the 12 second encounter, and for some reason thought the creature should have wings, but none were apparent. In the squatted position, the creature seemed to be about five feet tall. At this point, the creature was in the left lane of the road and about 1-2 feet onto the pavement.

The creature then allegedly stood up on broom-stick thin legs to a height of 7 feet and turned its attention on the vehicle and the startled witnesses and seemed to only then become aware that it was being watched. As soon as it realized this, there was a “panicked” look that came over its face and it reportedly bounded away in a single great leap said to cover 40 feet to disappear off into the night. As the very frightened witnesses followed its epic jump into the darkened wilderness they were purportedly surprised when some sort of bird like and owl smashed into the windshield, only to go careening off into the woods. Adding to all of this is the weird fact that the thing was reported as seemingly shape-changing during the whole incident, of which Gordon would write:

The witnesses indicated that this creature appeared to be changing form. The driver said, “Its shape was nothing like when it was squatted”. The woman stated to me that it “shaped into another form.” She thought it was a dark brown color, and looked like a werewolf with a little back hair. She estimated that when it was leaping into the woods, she thought it stood about 9 feet tall. The woman while reluctant to say it said, “I think it was a man changing into a werewolf”. The man after the experience went onto the internet to try to figure out what he saw, and told me that the closest way he could describe the creature would be a gargoyle with no wings. The man commented, “I will never forget what we saw that night”

Also in 2012 was another report uncovered by Stan Gordon, this time originating from Fayette County, Pennsylvania. On March 18, 2012, the witness was allegedly out with his dog for a nighttime walk near his home when his attention was drawn upward by some sort of whooshing sound like that of enormous wings. As he did he says that he spotted a vast flying creature similar to a “dragon,” which was estimated as being 22 feet long and having a wingspan of around 18 feet. Gordon would report of the thing’s appearance:

The color was dark, possibly brown and red, similar to auburn brown. At the end tip of the wings there appeared to be talon-like fingers about 3 to 4 in number. The arms of the wing structure appeared muscular. The wings were quite thick, not like skin. There appeared to be a rear fin on both sides of its body, and the creature displayed at arrow head shaped tail. The witness also saw what appeared to be two extended rear legs. The creature had a cone shape around the head and it stopped flat on the base of the neck.

The oddest physical feature that the witness mentioned to me was that the mouth and eyes were illuminated with, “a very ominous orange glow”. As the creature flew over a tree at the bottom of the yard and moved off in the distance, the fellow heard a deep-throaty sound, similar to the fog horn on a boat. The entire observation lasted about 20 seconds.

If none of this is strange enough for you already, then how about a tribe of vicious, mutant albinos marauding through the hills? From the hills of Haycock Mountain, near Sellersville, PA, there have long been tales of a clan of bloodthirsty, inbred albino wild men with inhuman features, pointy ears, and sharp teeth filed to points, and which are supposedly extremely aggressive, known to chase passing cars, throwing rocks, tossing fireworks, and shooting rock salt as they do so, much to the terror of the vehicle’s occupants. According to the lore, these outlandish savages will try to stop people passing through, only to drag them from their vehicles and bring them off to be slaughtered and devoured. At other times they will apparently wait up in trees for passing hikers, dropping down to kill those who wander through.

When human prey is not available they will supposedly raid farms for their livestock or snatch pets, often mutilating them right there on the spot to take the best cuts and leaving the rest of the carcass behind. It is said that they reside in windowless concrete homes buried in the most remote wilderness, and to cavort about by moonlight and engage in pagan rituals, and that the police know about them but are afraid of them and cover it up. Reports of these albino mutant freaks are numerous, with many people claiming to have been chased by the albino cannibals or to have known people who have disappeared in the mountains never to return. One report was given on Weird U.S. by a woman known only as Melissa, who said of the albinos and their alleged lair:

There’s a place we call Ghost Mountain [actually Haycock Mountain], near an old covered bridge where local legend has it that someone had hanged himself. It’s also said that if you turn your car on and off three times, your car will cease to start. You can really get a sense of bad vibes around that area. There is a house near there where albinos live. The story with them is that if you dare go on their property they will chase you away with a shotgun in hand. A couple of my friends found this out to be true. I never saw the actual albinos myself, but did see the house. It’s pretty strange. You have to go down a dirt road and just before you reach a cool old-timey red covered bridge. On the way to the place down the bumpy dirt road are little doors in the side of a hill, strange tunnel complexes, hobbit holes and other freaky stuff.

Theories as to what these mysterious predatory albinos could be range from that they are escaped circus freaks, to that they are weird medical experiments gone awry to even ghosts and demons. It is most likely all an urban legend, but it is creepy nevertheless to imagine that there is a tribe of cannibalistic pale creatures dancing in the moonlight and feasting on human flesh up there in the mountains of Pennsylvania, and it definitely seems like a place you would not want your car to break down at. Here we have looked at strange water monsters, flying beasts, roving bands of marauding albino cannibals, and others. It is unsure just how much truth any of these accounts hold, but they certainly seem to point to Pennsylvania being a location infused with the odd.

Wartime Encounters with Menacing Mystery Monsters

Throughout history the battlefields of our bloody wars have been saturated with all manner of tales of valor, bravery, cruelty, and tragedy. These are part of the fabric of war, an intrinsic property of it, and this tapestry of death infuses our history with its grim shadow. Often overshadowed by the atrocity and gloom of war there are often other bizarre stories scattered about and buried within this history, and war seems to bring about it stories of strange entities, creatures, and mysteries as well, with some of these things being just as sinister and scary as any enemy. Here are some of the more frightening and violent encounters with cryptids and mysterious entities during wartime.

A particularly strange and rather violent early account comes from the Crimean War, which lasted from 1854 to 1856 and saw an alliance of forces from the Ottoman Empire, France, Britain and Sardinia battling the Russian Empire for religious control of the Holy Land in the Middle East. Amid all of the fierce fighting and death lies buried a very bizarre report of some sort of flying monster that defies easy classification. During a lull in fighting following a fierce 6-day battle, a band of Russian soldiers reportedly headed out over the nighttime battlefield in order to push past the corpses and buzzing flies to launch a surprise attack on their enemy, with whom they had arranged a tense 24-hour truce.

It was an underhanded tactic to say the least, but they wouldn’t get very far with their insidious plan. As they crept closer to the enemy camp, the men suddenly realized that in the air above them there soared an enormous flying, crow-like entity with the wings of a bat and which was described as not having any discernible head. The thing seemed to be circling ominously above them but the frightened men nevertheless warily continued on their mission. However, for some reason they had become disoriented and were actually headed back towards their camp, where they were mistaken for the enemy and gunned down by friendly fire, with only one of them living to tell the tale of what they had seen out there in the dark.

In later years the account has evolved and changed depending on the telling, with some reports claiming that the band of ambushers were not Russian at all, but rather Turkish troops, and that they had rushed from the darkness screaming and pursued by a horde of bizarre screeching bat-like creatures. One very interesting theory as to what was seen that night is that this was an early instance of a Mothman sighting, and that it was a harbinger of doom during this time of intense bloodshed. Whatever happened out there on that battlefield it remains an intriguing mystery among all of the tales of battle.

Moving on into later years we come to World War I, which produced a few very compelling accounts of mystery monsters. A very strange and very dramatic, almost cinematic sighting happened during the fighting on the seas during World War I, and occurred on July 30, 1915, when the German U-boat U-28 was patrolling somewhere in the North Atlantic and locked onto a British steamer called the Iberian. The steamer was relentlessly chased down and destroyed with torpedoes and shells, and it began to sink, the German sub circling it like a predator stalking its wounded prey. As they watched, the bow of the vessel tipped up and the once mighty British ship began its descent into the depths.

As it did, there was reportedly a huge underwater explosion aboard the doomed vessel, speculated to have been perhaps a damaged boiler. The massive detonation sent a shower of foamy water and debris into the air, as well as something altogether bizarre beyond reason. According to the U-28‘s captain, Freiherr George G von Forstner, he and seven other crew members, an anomalous creature the likes of which they had never seen was also ejected out of the water with pieces of ship and the spray of water, which was described as being somewhat similar to a crocodile in general body shape, with a long tapered head and measuring a whopping 65 feet (20 meters) in length. The creature apparently came back down to the water but was still alive, although obviously grievously wounded, purportedly thrashing about in the water and biting at wreckage for a time before sinking out of sight. In total, the creature was allegedly witnessed for around 15 seconds from a distance of around 500–300 ft (100-150 meters) in bright and clear daytime conditions.

Interestingly, Forstner would write of the bizarre encounter in both his log and in an official report on the matter. There has been speculation that it might have been a total fabrication, but this seems odd for a respected submarine captain to write such a fantastical delusion in a log right alongside serious war matters, as well as in a report to his superiors. It also could have been a mis-identification, but of what? Cryptozoologists have pointed to the fact that the creature described sounds very much like an enormous prehistoric marine reptile called a mosasaur. It will probably remain a mystery, as all of the witnesses are dead and the only records we have are the logbook and the official report. Whatever it was, the U-28 sighting is often considered to be one of the most reliable historical cryptozoological accounts out there.

Another very similar and even scarier encounter happened in later years near the end of World War I, again in the North Atlantic. On April 30th, 1918, the British vessel the Coreopsis was operating off the coast of Ireland when they came across the German U-boat UB-85 floundering in the water, which was approached without a fight. The frightened German crew seemed harried, and surrendered without a single bit of resistance, seemingly happy to have been found and eager to get off of their ship. The captain of UB-85, Gunter Krech, would under interrogation tell a rather frightening and unbelievable account. He explained that the previous night the submarine had surfaced in order to charge its batteries. It had been a calm and quiet night, but this would all change when a gigantic impact was reported as rocking the vessel from below. As the shaken crew gathered to peer into the dark waters, a strange beast then supposedly surfaced right next to the submarine, described as having a bony head and large teeth set within the comparatively small head.

Things had apparently gotten quite intense when the sea monster had then allegedly attacked the submarine, lurching up upon the starboard bow as it thrashed about and bit at the vessel. After a moment of stunned bewilderment, the men had begun to open fire on the creature, causing it to release the sub and slide back into the sea to disappear. In the aftermath of the startling encounter, it was found that UB-85 had sustained enough damage to prevent it from diving, making it a sitting duck for the enemy. The British calmly listened to this wild tale and then had the German submarine sunk, unfortunately along with any evidence at all that this had really happened. Additionally, official reports make no mention of the sea monster encounter, so there has been some skepticism as to whether this event really happened or not. Whether it did or not, it is certainly a rather exciting encounter.

One of the strangest encounters with a mystery monster in World War I allegedly happened on the battlefield of Mons, Belgium, in 1914, when soldiers seem to have had more than the tenacious enemy to contend with. According to an account by a Canadian veteran of the battle named F.J. Newhouse, the whole terrifying incident began with a Capt. Yeskes and four men of the London Fusiliers braved the perils of no man’s land in order to carry out a patrol of the area and never returned. This was not strange in and of itself, as this was a bloody battle during World War I and to go missing was a common occurrence. Yet, when the bodies of the men were found several days later, it was discovered that something had ripped their throats out and left gaping teeth marks upon the corpses. One night a few days after this, it was reported that soldiers from both sides heard an ear piercing, monstrous howl emanating from the desolate darkness of no man’s land. The bloodcurdling shriek was allegedly so terrifying that some soldiers who had braved battle day after day cowered and considered retreating at once.

From this incident sprang numerous rumors of other soldiers being found dead and mauled as if by some very large, vicious beast, and that unearthly wail became a common sound echoing out across the area. The occasional anguished cries of terror from German soldiers across the battlefield seemed to indicate that they were suffering similar attacks. The unearthly nighttime roars also increased in frequency and it was around this time that some of the soldiers on sentry duty along the edges of no man’s land reported seeing an enormous, gray hound skulking about out in the shadows of the war torn chasm between the two enemies, often said to possess glowing eyes. For two years the mysterious hound supposedly prowled the bloody battlefield of Mons, gaining an ever growing list of victims and instilling horror in the troops. Then, as suddenly as it had appeared the hound was gone and the attacks ceased.

The story was widely circulated when Newhouse first came forward with it in 1919, and it would gain further elements of bizarreness when he speculated that the creature had been the result of a twisted experiment carried out by a German doctor named Gottlieb Hochmuller for the purpose of inserting the brain of a madman into a massive Siberian wolfhound to be used as a weapon of war. Newhouse would say of this in a 1919 article in the Oklahoman:

The death of Dr. Gottlieb Hochmuller in the recent Spartacan riots in Berlin has brought to light facts concerning the fiendish application of this German scientist’s skill that have astounded Europe. For the hound of Mons was not an accident, a phantom, or an hallucination–it was the deliberate result of one of the strangest and most repulsive scientific experiments the world has ever known.

Accounts have variously claimed that the hound had been altered to be larger than before, that its capacity for hatred had been chemically enhanced, or that its hide had been made to be impervious to bullets. Newhouse claimed that papers had been found upon Dr. Hochmuller’s death that fully outlined the whole experiment as well as the doctor’s wishes to unleash the beast on allied troops, and fully proved that the experiments were real. It is not explained whether the doctor had anticipated the maniacal hound turning against its own side or why the walking weapon might have suddenly stopped its rampage.

So what was going on here? Was there really some surgically or even genetically enhanced hellhound stalking the no man’s land? Was it something more supernatural in nature? Was it pure fancy? If there is any grain of truth to it all, then it seems perhaps more likely that wild or feral dogs had perhaps been drawn to the war and had congregated there feed on the dead fallen in battle, upon which their gruesome activities would be spotted by frightened, battle weary soldiers and interpreted as supernatural hounds from hell. This theory would also account for the ghostly howling that was heard from the front lines. I do wonder if dogs would be willing to stick around through all of the riotous cacophony of gunfire blazing around them, but it does offer a rational explanation if indeed the events were even real. Whether this is a piece of war folklore and flight of fancy or has element of truth to it we will probably never know, and the “Hellhound of Mons” remains a mysterious tale buried in history.

Also from World War II is the account of an A.G. Starkey, who was stationed aboard a British vessel operating off the coast of Maldives. One evening as the vessel was moored, Starkley claimed that he had gone out on the deck and that as he looked out over the water he noticed a huge dark mass and shone his flashlight upon it, catching in its beam a truly monstrous squid, which was claimed to stretch from one end of the ship the other, for a total of 175 feet (53 meters), far larger than any known squid. He would say of the strange encounter:

As I gazed, fascinated, a circle of green light glowed in my area of illumination. This green unwinking orb, I suddenly realized, was an eye. The surface of the water undulated with some strange disturbance. Gradually, I realized that I was gazing almost point-blank at a huge squid.

Since no other crew members saw the beast, it remains an enticing, yet unverified account of an epically gigantic squid along the lines of the Kraken of lore. The Japanese seem to have been plagued by sea monsters as well, as there is a report from one of their scout ships that seems to point to a ferocious attack by some underwater beast. Details of the case are scant, but one crewman described how a surge of water erupted near the vessel, after which the boat was jolted by something relentlessly ramming the hull.

Other crewmen arrived and saw what appeared to a large grey shape in the water at least 50 feet long, with a white underbelly, leathery skin, a prominent dorsal fin, and what was described as “the head of an alligator.” The creature would ram the vessel, circle back, then ram it again, sending its hull shuddering each time. It got to the point where the bone-jarring impacts caused the boat to list to starboard, upon which the shocked and panicked crew opened fire, finally sending whatever it was that had attacked them back into the depths from which it had come. There was allegedly so much damage to their ship that they were forced to abandon their mission and go back for repairs. Whatever it was we will probably never know.

The Japanese had some other very bizarre encounters during the war as well. During the heavy fighting that went on during bloody Battle of Guadalcanal in 1942 and 1943 on the Solomon Islands, Japanese troops began to come back from these mosquito infested jungle battlefields with strange stories of having come across giant, hairy hominids ranging from 10 to 15 feet in height, and covered in long, brown to reddish brown hair, with prominent brows, flat noses, and wide mouths, as well as immense arms with which they occasionally brandished crude weapons such as sticks and clubs.

It was reported that the giants were known to be quite aggressive and even attack on occasion. Several units described these terrifying beasts crashing through foliage to ravage, kill and maim squads of soldiers, or snapping apart trees and branches in threatening displays of raw power. Bullets were said to have little effect on them and soldiers would on many occasions be kept awake by inhuman wailing from the dark as the strange behemoths wandered the night crashing through brush and pushing over trees. Interestingly, the Solomon Islands have a long history of mysterious giants, and the local people are well aware of them, with a rich tradition of folklore on the creatures, as well as sightings and footprint evidence of giant hairy hominids on the islands that continue right up to the present day.

Finally, we come to the Vietnam War, where American GIs trudging through the murky jungles fighting a tough enemy in a faraway land began to bring back stories of encountering strange and seemingly hostile ape-like creatures out in the wilderness, which would come to be known as the Rock Apes. The most well known, in-depth published accounts of these enigmatic creatures come from a book by a veteran named Kregg P. J. Jorgenson, called Very Crazy G.I. – Strange but True Stories of the Vietnam War.

The account describes the ordeal of a 6-man unit from the 101st Airborne Division, who were taking a break after a relentless hike through unforgiving mountainous jungle terrain carrying heavy packs. Even as they rested they were attuned to the surrounding environment, very aware that the Viet Cong were everywhere and could strike at any moment. As the unit sat there resting, exhausted in their sweat soaked fatigues, some trees located around fifteen yards uphill then reportedly began shaking violently, and it was assumed that this was the enemy. The soldiers prepared their weapons and trained an eye on the suspicious, jostling trees. As they sat in wait, mosquitos buzzing around their heads and the creeping, sickening dread of the coming battle weighing heavily on their minds, it was then noticed that an oblong head with a face covered in reddish hair and possessing a huge mouth and dark, deep set eyes had emerged from the brush.

American troops in the Vietnam jungle

The startled soldiers then witnessed a strange creature step from the underbrush to reveal a 5-foot tall muscular frame enveloped in the same matted reddish hair, after which it stood there on two legs to seemingly carefully scrutinize the men. The soldiers then speculated that it must be a large orangutan, before one of them pointed out that orangutans were not native to Vietnam. As they argued over what it could be, the strange beast purportedly lost interest in them and quietly slinked back off into the jungle.

Although this is the most well known report, it is not by any means the only one, and some of them are quite violent in nature, painting a picture of decidedly ferocious and aggressive beasts. One such account given by a Michael Kelley, of D Co 1st/502d Infantry of the 101st Airborne Division describes not one Rock Ape, but hundreds of them. In the account, in 1969, 8 of the strange creatures came casually walking up a trail on a ridge of Nui Mo Tau and surprised a platoon that was in the middle of having lunch when they turned a ridge about 10 meters from where the men were situated. According to Kelley, the platoon at first immediately thought they were Viet Cong and “all hell broke loose.” The squad of men opened up with M-16s, M-79s, and grenade launchers, lighting up the forest in a vicious display of booming firepower and flying pieces of vegetation. Kelley himself was at the far end of a clearing, about 50 meters from where the barrage of continuous shooting had started, and he grabbed a weapon to run to join them along with the platoon Sgt., taking cover under a toppled tree.

For a few moments, Kelley and the platoon Sgt. stayed hidden as the cacophony of gunfire erupted everywhere. When they finally gave each other the nod to engage, they popped out from behind the tree, ready to see a sizable enemy force descending upon them judging by the nonstop barrage of relentless gunfire. What they saw instead was the platoon firing away at “ghostly images” that were swooshing through bushes and trees all around them. The mysterious intruders were described as being around 5 and a half feet tall, and all but one was light brown to reddish brown in color. The other was almost black and was a particularly aggressive large male, which reportedly madly rushed at men through the thick underbrush, snarling and with teeth bared.

Throughout the frightening encounter, the ape-like beasts reportedly made sounds that sounded exactly like dogs barking. Then, the creatures, whatever they were, abruptly melted away into the forest, disappearing as if they had never been there. When the surprised platoon regained their composure, they searched the bullet riddled, gun smoke permeated area and found no sign of any dead bodies of the animals, and oddly not even any fur or blood. Kelley would remark on the surreal scene:

This may sound very strange to you, but although I had no or little concern about killing the enemy, the killing of innocent animals turned my stomach and could enrage me if done without being a necessity. But I searched the site and but found not a drop of blood, which totally amazed me given the amount of firing that had gone on. I wonder to this day if the men were shooting just to scare the Rock Apes away or whether they were really just poor marksman! The men who’d suffered the surprise looked a bit worse for wear, and I’m sure a few had to wash their shorts out as a result of the unwelcome visit. It really scared the crap out of them, I kid you not!

In 1968, members of Mike Company of the 3rd Battalion of the 5th Marines operating on Hill 868, which was so known for Rock Ape sightings that it had earned the nickname “Monkey Mountain.” The unit apparently often came across plentiful physical evidence of the creatures there, such as droppings, tufts of hair, or footprints, as well as hearing their eerie barks and cries at night, and the Rock Apes even occasionally assaulted them with rocks lobbed from the jungle. The apes were described as “throwing like girls, but with velocity,” and men were reported as being often seriously injured by the hurled stone projectiles. In one account given by a veteran named Steve Canyon, a unit of Marines was out in the jungle of Hill 868 at night testing out a new muzzle flash and noise suppresser for their weapons.

As they were setting up, they suddenly noticed a Rock Ape glaring at them from the thick vegetation, reportedly completely unafraid. After a few moments of staring at the soldiers, the creature was said to then let out a sound like the bark of a dog. One of the men threw a rock at it to scare it away, and hit it dead on, after which the ape picked up a rock of its own and hurled it at them. It was then noticed that there were more of the Rock Apes gathering around in the jungle, around 20 of them, which all began screeching, howling, and throwing rocks at the frightened men in unison. Despite the threatening situation, the unit did not open fire, instead making a hasty retreat.

There was at one point even a body of one of the creatures found by a special forces team after performing a nighttime drop into enemy territory. The unit allegedly came across the body of a “decomposing bigfoot-like creature” that seemed to have been blown apart by a land mine. One of the members of the unit told his friend, a Steve Williams, about the tale, who would say of the gruesome discovery:

They could see into the body cavity…spine, lungs, and such. All was crawling with bugs. There was shorter hair on the huge head. The eyes sunk back an inch and a half from the brow line. It had long arms. Very large and long fingers. One hand was still wrapped around a branch. He (the original source of the tale) didn’t say what color it was, but did mention that it had a flat nose. If the creature had it’s legs, the estimated height was around 8 ft tall…there was no sign of the lower half of the body. They were able to see the teeth. All flat, well formed molars, except the canines, which were longer and pointed. Seemed adapted to living in the forest with long arms and fingers, or perhaps just builds night nests like gorillas sometimes do.

What happened to this body? Who knows? There are numerous other accounts like this, many of them are quite harrowing, and these reports became so commonplace that there were several expeditions sent out to try and find evidence of the creatures, which managed to find occasional human-like tracks, some of which were made into plaster casts. Is there some sort of undiscovered hairy hominid lurking out in the jungles of Vietnam and did these creatures menace troops during the war? If so what are they? Or was this just the product of war-addled minds and perhaps the use of drugs such as LSD? It remains a mystery that we may never fully understand.

It certainly seems when looking at accounts like these that the chaos and terror of war can hide within it some lesser known, oft-forgotten aspects, and here we find reports that go beyond the known and point to creatures lurking in the fringes of battle that are every bit as frightening as the enemy. We will probably never be able to corroborate any of these wild stories, as they very often exist as simply basic accounts from soldiers who perhaps had more on their mind than unexplained mystery beasts at the time. However, while we may never know the answers to these tales and are doomed to merely speculate, these cases nevertheless illuminate other aspects and mysteries of war and another facet of its horrors, serving to stoke the imagination and expand upon the history we know or think we know.

Exploring Canadian Monsters: Newfoundland and Labrador

Newfoundland and Labrador, which form the easternmost province of Canada, is the land where the Viking Leif Erikson first came to the shores of North America. Newfoundland, an island, and Labrador, the mainland, are about 405,000 square kilometres, which makes the province one of Canada’s smallest (not Prince Edward Island small, but compared to the massive territory Nunavut, it’s tiny). Newfoundland became a Canadian province in 1949 (up until then it was still a British colony) and in 2001 included Labrador into the name. The population of the province is not large, at 526,000 people, which is about the size of Tucson, Arizona. The province is made up of coastline, forestland, World Heritage rock formations and mountains; the Long Range Mountains are the northernmost arm of the Appalachians. Famous people from the province include arctic explorer Robert Bartlett, one of the fathers of the Canadian confederation Sir Frederick Carter, the last surviving member Beothuk people Shanawdithit, inventor of the gas mask Dr. Cluny MacPherson and actress Natasha Henstridge. Then there’s the Nennorluk.

 

Labrador Nennorluk

For centuries, an enormous sea monster capable of treading on land terrorized Inuit tribes from Labrador to Greenland – the Nennorluk. This creature, that’s name roughly translates to “evil polar bear,” was first seen by Europeans in the 1700s. David Crantz’s “History of Greenland” (1773), describes the Nennorluk as huge, with ears “large enough for the covering of a capacious tent.” Inuits claimed the white creature was as large as “a huge ice-berg.” The monster’s diet was largely seals, which the Nennorluk would completely devour, but it didn’t shy away from eating humans if they happened to be in the way when it was hungry.

The Inuits believed the Nennorluk to be even larger than Crantz described. According to legend, the Nennorluk does not swim, it walks on the bottom of the ocean and is so large it can often be seen on the surface.

 

One-legged Natives vs. the Vikings

When the Vikings came to Vinland (the area of Newfoundland where Leif Erikson landed in 1000 C.E.), they encountered something they didn’t expect – native tribes of einfæting, or one-legged people.

When Eirik the Red’s son Thorvald Eiriksson, spied an einfæting one day, the meeting was deadly, according to the book, “Wonderful Strange: Ghosts, Fairies, and Fabulous Beasties,” by Dale Jarvis (2005).

“One morning Karlsefni’s people beheld as it were a glittering speck above the open space in front of them, and they shouted at it. It stirred itself, and it was a being of the race of men that have only one foot, and he came down quickly to where they lay,” Jarvis wrote. The einfæting shot an arrow that pierced Thorvald’s body, killing him.

The einfæting ran and Thorvald’s men gave chase, but the one-legged native escaped.

 

Cressie

First Nations people who lived near Crescent Lake in Newfoundland had legends of the Swimming Demon, a giant eel-like creature that could appear in human form and would seduce people to follow it into the depths where it would devour them.

The first European settlers who saw something unexplained in the lake was in the 1950s when fishermen reported what at first appeared to be an overturned boat. When they coasted toward it in an attempt to right the craft, the monster flipped over and dove beneath the waves. Other notable sightings occurred in the 1980s when scuba divers encountered a school of enormous eels, and in 2003 when people saw something at least five metres long swimming on the surface of the lake.

 

Fairies

When people immigrate to an area, they don’t just bring their personal belongings, they bring their language, their customs and their legends. Early settlers from the British Isles found their fairy stories didn’t stay home in Britain. They followed them to the New World.

European fairies aren’t Disney fairies. They are more often described as gnomes, although they can appear smaller, larger, in animal shape or as glowing lights. They’re also mischievous. According to the book “Strange Terrain: The Fairy World in Newfoundland,” by Dr. Barbara Rieti, encounters with fairies can turn deadly. “They play tricks and lead you over the edge or a cliff,” Rieti wrote. “They’ll change people. Or you’ll get a fairy blast when they hit you, and then nasty stuff comes out of the wound, like sticks, balls of wool and fish bones.”

These fairies, like their European counterparts, have also been known to swap their sickly babies (known as changelings) for a healthy human baby, tie together the tails of livestock if they feel slighted in some way, or spirt people into the fairy realm.

In an article written by Burton K. Janes in The (Carbonear) Compassnewspaper, back in the early days, a Newfoundland and Labrador woman walked into the hills to find a missing cow and vanished. Despite extensive searches by the townspeople, after fourteen days the woman was still missing – until a person in town had a dream of where the missing woman was. A search party went to this spot and found the woman who claimed she was, “taken astray by the fairies.”

 

Sea Monster of Bonavista

The waters that slap the coastline of Bonavista, Newfoundland, may be home to a monster. In 2000, Bonavista resident Bob Crewe drove along Lane Cove Road near Dungeon Provincial Park when he saw something he couldn’t explain. “I saw its body in the water measuring about nine metres across, just lying there and moving slightly,” Crewe told the UK’s Telegram. “It looked something like a rock in the water, but I knew there was no rock there.”

Wanting to determine if what he saw was alive, he honked the vehicle’s horn and discovered that yes, it was. The beast pushed its head out of the water. It rested atop a slender neck about one-and-a-half-metres long. Crewe told the newspaper the neck looked like a gigantic snake. Startled by the horn, the creature took off swimming. “It seemed like it was using its body to push itself along and it was going very fast,” Crewe said.

A similar creature with “grey, scaly skin” was reported by fisherman Charles Bungay in Fortune Bay, in May 1997. The monster had a horse-like head on a nearly two-metre-long neck. Another fisherman said he saw what looked like a dinosaur in Bay L’Argent in the early 1990s.

 

Kraken

Legends of squid so large it can entangle sailing ships and drag them beneath the waves have existed since man sailed the seas. Those legends are taken a bit more seriously in parts of Newfoundland and Labrador because tentacled monsters of nearly-Kraken size have been seen on its shores.

A squid measuring six metres washed onto the shores of Portugal Cove, Newfoundland, in 1873 and was photographed by Rev. Moses Harvey of St. Johns, but that specimen was dwarfed by one that washed up on the shores of Glovers Harbour in 1878 – it was nearly 17 metres long, according to the Nov. 26, 1949 edition of The Illustrated London News. Seventeen metres is nearly as long as a bowling lane.

The existence of such creatures in the area appear in the work of Danish zoologist Japetus Steenstrup who recorded evidence of squid of enormous size from whalers who retrieved jaws, tentacles, and eyes from the belly of sperm whales. Science has discovered a large species of squid – the giant squid – to live off the coast of Newfoundland. These squid grow to approximately 14 metres long.

 

Adlet

The Inuits of Newfoundland and Labrador spoke about the Adlet, the offspring of a woman who had sex with a gigantic dog. The Adlet appear human, but have dog legs which allow them to run as fast as dogs.

The woman gave birth to ten puppies, five of them (as legend has it) ran across a great sheet of ice all the way to Europe and became the first Europeans. The other five fell into depravity and fed upon the Inuits.

 

Bigfoot

Why not? Canada is rife with them.

 

Next up: Nova Scotia.

The Bizarre Bird Monsters of the Rio Grande

A curious type of cryptid that has managed to remain pervasive all around the world is that of the flying monster or winged humanoid. Such reports come in from all over the world, and often feature strange creatures that are remarkably similar in appearance. Why this may be is beyond the scope of this article, but there are numerous bird or bat-like beasts that seem to lurk in the dark corners of our planet. One good example of an avian mystery is a massive, seemingly humanoid beast that has long been sighted in the southwest United States, and has managed to elude understanding.

Sprawled out over 4,872 square miles along the northern Rio Grande River in the southernmost tip of South Texas lies the Rio Grande Valley. Once known as El Mágico Valle del Río Grande, or “The Magical Valley of the Rio Grande” by the people of the region, the Rio Grande valley is at once one of the fastest growing regions of the United States and also home to majestic, vast expanses of untamed, unspoiled wilderness, encompassing numerous wildlife refuges and national parks including the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge, Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, and Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, which draw in droves of tourists and outdoorsmen every year.

The Rio Grande Valley

It is here in this rugged region that a very strange, avian flying creature has been sighted since at least the 1970s. What has come to be known as the “Big Bird” or sometimes the “Bird Man,” the beast is usually described as being a massive vaguely humanoid bird of some type, with a face reminiscent of a gorilla, a 6-inch long beak, a bald head, and blood-red eyes that are sometimes reported as glowing. In the 1970s there was a spate of sightings of this creature, which started, or was at least thrust into the public consciousness, on January 1, 1976, when 11-year old Tracey Lawson was out playing in the backyard of her home near Harlingen, Texas, along with her 14-year-old cousin, Jackie Davies.

At some point they noticed something very bizarre around 100 yards away near an irrigation canal, which upon observation with binoculars was described as being a “horrible-looking” giant bird around 5 feet in height, with a face like a gorilla, a bald head, and enormous luminous red eyes. The strange beast glared at them for a time and then reportedly let out an unearthly shriek before disappearing from view behind some trees. At first the girls’ parents did not believe them, but the next day Jackie’s stepfather, Tom Waldon, would find unusual three-toed tracks measuring 8 inches across in the area where the creature had been seen. Also strange was that the Lawson family dog, which was usually friendly and rambunctious, began to act very strangely, cowering in its doghouse and refusing to go outside.

The next sighting happened a week later in San Benito, where in the early morning of January 7, two police officers named Arturo Padilla and Homer Galvan saw what they described as a massive bird-like creature around 5 feet tall, with a gorilla-like face, a 12 to 15-foot wingspan, and glowing red eyes. Later that very same day witness Alverico Guajardo spotted the creature near his home in Brownsville. He described it as having somewhat bat-like wings, eyes as big as silver dollars, and possessing a long, thin beak through which it issued a loud, unearthly groan. Guarjardo would tell the Brownsville Herald, “I was scared. It’s got wings like a bird, but it’s not a bird. That animal is not of this world.”

There were other sightings, which I have covered here recently with my Batsquatch article but will go over here again. For instance, there was the case of brothers David and John Daut, who were driving along a rural road in the Rio Grande Valley when a bat-winged humanoid with a head reminiscent of a wolf and estimated as being 8-10 feet tall landed in front of them, forcing them to screech to a halt. As they tried to back up away from the nightmarish creature, it loped forward as if about to attack, only to alight into the air and fly over them with an audible whooshing of its wings. In another case a father and son claimed to have been out hunting deer in Hidalgo County, near Houston, when the creature had swooped down to grab the father and try to carry him off, with the man only barely managing to escape when the son shot at it with his rifle. The man was apparently left deeply shaken and with broken ribs and nasty talon marks on his body.

Attacks like this seem to have been par for the course with some of these reports. Things took a turn for the truly frightening with a report from January 15, from a man named Armando Grimaldo. The witness claimed that he had been out having a cigarette at his home in Raymondville when he heard a flapping sound and something that sounded vaguely like a strange whistle. When he looked up, he said that an immense bird-like creature with a simian face and leathery skin had clawed at him with its talons, ripping apart his shirt and jacket in the process, and indeed he was found with shredded clothes and in a state of shock by neighbors who had heard his desperate screams for help.

That very same week another man named Francisco Magallanezs reported that he had also been attacked by a giant birdman at Eagle Pass, and doctors confirmed that he had sustained deep scratches by some sort of wild animal. When these scarier reports hit the papers it caused a bit of hysteria, with some people refusing to leave their homes after dark for fear of being attacked by the beast. There were even claims that pets were disappearing and that there were cattle mutilations in the region at the time, further painting a sinister veneer over it all.

Three days later, on January 18 there were two separate sightings of the creature, one by two sisters in Brownsville and another by two soldiers near Poteet. Indeed, sightings of the Big Bird became to come in on an almost a daily basis over the next few weeks, from people of all ages and all walks of life, and the creature began to appear all over the news. One notable sighting was made on February 24th, 1976, when three teachers saw the creature near Harlingen, this time with the interesting detail that they thought it looked similar to the prehistoric flying reptile, the pteranodon. Sometimes the Big Bird was seen multiple times by the same witness, such as is the case with an Alex Resendez, who claimed to have seen it three times and said it had short legs, glassy, black eyes, striped wings, and a translucent beak. He would say of it:

You have to look close because his beak is very transparent. If you see it real fast, you’re going to think he ain’t got no beak… I never seen a bird that big. He was brownish, like dirt… He does not have long legs and does not stand like other birds.

Big Bird mania got so heated that there were large rewards offered to capture or kill the creature, which drew in hunters looking to cash in. These reckless, money-hungry hunters went out traipsing around the wilderness looking for any big birds to shoot, which made quite a few wildlife conservationists nervous as they believed that the Big Bird could be a large endangered species of bird. During this time there were a few false alarms, such as a mass sighting of the “Big Bird” just south of Alamo, which was filmed and later identified as a blue heron, which is what quite a few skeptics thought people were actually seeing.

Although the sightings eventually died down, they never really did stop altogether, and the monster has been spotted throughout the 70s, 80s, and beyond. One rather terrifying encounter occurred in 1977, when a local woman at Santa Rosa spotted a gigantic bird with black eyes and a face like an old woman in a tree. The creature then flew straight at her and when she retreated into her home it continued to scratch at the door for some time before being chased away by some neighborhood dogs. The dogs purportedly chased it out of sight, but the next day when the animals did not return searchers found their mangled bodies, torn apart and mutilated by some immensely powerful animal. Since then the creature has been sporadically reported all the way up to today, and has become a persistent local legend in the area, sort of like Nessie at Loch Ness.

It is not even the U.S. side of the Rio Grande that has seen sightings of such a bizarre creature. In one sighting, a man was driving along a remote dirt road near the town of El Tigre, Chihuahua, in Mexico, and was startled when a giant bird passed right over his vehicle, after which it continued to make relentless passes at him. On one of these passes it allegedly smashed into the windshield and fell to the road, and the witness ran it over. When he looked into his rear-view mirror he reportedly saw it get back up as if it was nothing and fly off into the night.

Interestingly enough, the Rio Grande region on the south of the border has long had legends and sightings of a creature that seems very similar to what has been seen in Texas. Locals of northern Mexico and the Rio Grande of Texas have long spoken of a giant bird creature which they call La Lechuza, that can supposedly stand up to 7 feet high and have a wingspan of 15 feet or more. Often described as looking like an oversized owl or raven, La Lechuza can be black or white, and is often said to have a face like that of an old woman. The creature is most often seen as being a part of local folklore, where it is depicted as a vengeful supernatural spirit that feeds off of negative emotions and kidnaps children to eat, but there have been actual sightings of these things in the area for centuries. Could this have anything to do with the Big Bird sightings?

Besides magical Mexican spirits, there has been much speculation as to what the creature could be, with most skeptics saying it is nothing more than some large species of bird like a stork or heron, and there have been cases of exotic out of place specimens of a type of Central American stork called the jabiru in the Rio Grande region. The jabiru is certainly imposing enough to be mistaken for the beast, which can stand 5 feet tall and have a wingspan of around 10 feet and interestingly also has a featherless head, which fits into reports of Big Bird having a bald head. It also looks suitably eerie enough to perhaps generate reports of something strange for those who have never seen one before.

Jabiru

However, it is hard to see how any stork or heron could possibly be mistaken for having an ape-like face, vicious talons, or glowing red eyes, and reports mentioning short legs on the mystery monster do not match either. Storks and herons don’t typically attack humans either. So what else could it be? More mysterious explanations have mentioned that it could be some new species, aliens, inter-dimensional beings, or even the infamous, enigmatic Mothman. Then there is the possibility that this is all just an urban legend based on hoaxes and lies, but that would be strange considering the wealth of reliable witnesses who have claimed to have seen it, including two police officers.

So what are we dealing with here? These creatures have been spotted all over the Rio Grande by witnesses of all ages and all walks of life. Are they all just making things up or misidentifying normal birds? Or is this something weirder? Are these visitors from some other plane of existence of trickster spirits having some fun at our expense? Whatever the case may be, the Birdmen or Bid Bird of the Rio Grande has continued to be featured heavily in the cryptozoological and paranormal lore of the area, and looks likely to remain that way for some time to come.