Monsters Among Us

A post such as this is perhaps more appropriate for the Halloween season, but as the weather warms and the days grow longer, I get an itch for travel and exploration. Anyone who’s met me knows I have a penchant for the curious and uncanny, the mysterious and macabre. And, if you can mix a halfway decent cocktail and tell a chilling story (whether true, hearsay or fictitious) we are guaranteed to be fast friends.

I grew up in Decatur, Ill., a city of 72,000 that is possibly as famous for its grisly unsolved murders and strange local lore as it is for the Jesse Jackson protests and the ADM price-fixing scandal that would later serve as the plotline for the movie
The Informant! Decatur’s legends tell of phantom soldiers who roam the rolling hills of the city’s Greenwood Cemetery as well as accounts of mysterious panthers that dart in and out of oncoming headlights nearly frightening motorists off the road. And, perhaps even more unsettling, rumors persist that one of the town’s grain towers is home to a demon that attacks anyone brave enough to venture inside.

It was against this backdrop of whispered accounts of ghosts, ghouls and things that go bump in the night that I developed my taste for the truly terrifying. And so, to satiate my own appetite for the peculiar, I’ve compiled some of the Internet’s most nail-biting narratives for you to recount around your campfire this season.

The Bridgewater Triangle, Bridgewater, Mass.

Just 45 minutes south of Boston, the Bridgewater Triangle is home to a profusion of paranormal peculiarities. According to Weird New England by Joseph A. Citro, the sky over this area was said to glow an eerie yellow in colonial times. Colonists became so accustomed to the phenomena that they began to refer to the anomaly as the yellow days.

Long considered by the native inhabitants as both malevolent and sacred, the Hockomock Swamp lies at the center of the triangle and seems to be the epicenter for all manner of unusual activity. Jennie Arpin reports that glowing orbs can be seen buzzing about the trees performing complex acrobatics before vanishing suddenly.

Perhaps even stranger are the curious critters that seem to inhabit the area. Boston Globe correspondent Ross A. Muscato documents tales of “giant dogs with red eyes seen ravenously sinking their fangs into the throats of ponies; a flying creature that resembled a pterodactyl, the dinosaur that could fly; Native-American ghosts paddling canoes; and glowing somethings hovering above the trees. There's also talk of a shaggy half-man, half-ape seen shuffling through the woods.”       

The Bridgewater Triangle covers nearly 6,000 acres, which gives the inquisitive plenty of alarming area to explore.

The Black Dog of West Peak, Meriden, Conn.

“If a man shall meet the Black Dog once, it shall be for joy; and if twice, it shall be for sorrow; and the third time, he shall die,” or so the legend goes of the Black Dog of West Peak.

Nestled among the Metacomet Ridge, West Peak is home to a seemingly friendly preternatural pooch, but despite appearances, he’s a killer. According to Connecticut Weekender, reports of the Black Dog of West Peak have been circulating since the late 1800s and those who have seen this uncanny canine describe it as eerily quiet despite being visibly happy to greet the people it meets along its path.  

One of the earliest reports of the Black Dog was documented in the April-June 1898 edition of the Connecticut Quarterly in which N.Y. geologist W. H. C. Pynchon records his own experience. In Feb. 1891, Pynchon and fellow geologist Herbert Marshall were conducting research when they noticed the Black Dog approaching in the distance. Distracted, Marshall slipped from the ledge of the cliff to his death. According to Pynchon, this was his second time meeting the killer canine, while it was Marshall’s third—causing Pynchon sorrow and Marshall death.

Damned Connecticut reports that nearly half a dozen people are believed to have met their demise after spying the Black Dog of West Peak.

The Devil’s Tramping Ground, Chatham County, N.C.

In a patch of woods in rural Chatham County, N.C. lies a barren circle nearly 40 feet in diameter that has long spurred tales that old Mr. Split-Foot himself does his devilish dance under darkness of night like something akin to a Whirling Dervish.

According to Escaping Greensboro, this legendary ring is something of an anomaly with nothing growing within in its perimeter for over 100 years. Additionally, locals claim that anything placed within the circle will most certainly vanish by the following morning.

Stranger still, Haunted Stories reports that the local Department of Agriculture took soil samples from the circle and was able to determine that the area is entirely sterile.

The Devil’s Tramping Ground is so notorious that even our canine counterparts are said to refuse to venture inside the circle, perhaps aware of something that we humans cannot perceive.

The Lizard Man of Scape Ore Swamp, Lee County, S.C.

In June 1988, 17-year-old Christopher Davis stopped on the side of the road along Scape Ore Swamp to change a flat tire. As he was finishing, he turned to see a large bipedal creature with rough green skin and glowing red eyes dashing toward him. As Davis scurried into his vehicle to escape the monster, the Lizard Man, as it would later be dubbed, hurled itself onto the roof of Davis’ car. Davis sped down the road and swerved wildly in an attempt to dislodge the beast. When Davis returned home, he found large scratch marks on the roof of his vehicle.

Davis would not be the only person to catch of a glimpse of the Lizard Man, however. According to Encounters with the Unexplained, a construction worker named George Holloman witnessed the monster cross the road in front of him and lope into the nearby swamp. Holloman reported the incident to authorities who launched an investigation that allegedly turned up some unusual three-toed footprints in the swamp’s mud and muck. But, the story doesn’t end here.

In 2008, WIS-TV reported that the Lee County Sheriff’s Department was called to the home of Bob and Dixie Rawson when a coyote and cow were found dead on their property in close proximity. Even stranger, the Rawsons’ van had been extensively damaged by something large enough to chew through the van’s grill and bend the wheel wells.

While no arrests have been made regarding the oddities that occurred on the Rawson’s property, the Lizard Man of Lee County remains a suspect.

Robert the Haunted Doll, Key West, Fla.

Originally owned by artist, Eugene Otto, Robert the Haunted Doll is said to move on his own accord and curse anyone who dares take his photograph without asking permission.

The legend begins in 1906 when the Family’s Bahamian servant, an adept practitioner of voodoo and the black arts, made the doll as a gift for Otto. According to Paranormal Encounters, inexplicable occurrences immediately began in the Otto home. Otto’s toys and the family’s clothes and bed linen were found torn and destroyed. Even more unsettling, the family reported hearing Otto talking to Robert at night and a peculiar voice would answer back.   

After marrying, Otto demanded that Robert be given his own room in the attic. According to Unsolved Mysteries, Robert could be seen peering down from the attic windows and glaring at passersby.

Robert is currently housed at the Fort East Martello Museum, and legend says that visitors must ask Robert’s permission to take his picture. Reportedly, Robert will confer his consent by tipping his head slightly.

The Pope Lick Monster, Louisville, Ky.

Purportedly part man, part goat and part sheep, this monster who lives beneath a Norfolk Southern Railway trestle over Floyd's Fork Creek in Louisville, Ky. is strangely reminiscent of the South Park beast, ManBearPig, that continually eludes a parody of former Vice President Al Gore. “I’m super cereal.”

Legend states that the Pope Lick Monster was once a satanic farmer who sacrificed his goats to the devil in exchange for power, while other reports claim that the monster is an escaped sideshow attraction who claimed his freedom when his train derailed near the trestle he now calls home. Whatever the origin of the legend, the Pope Lick Monster continues to frighten locals and thrill seekers alike.

According to Ghost Stories, this satyr-like creature wields a bloody axe and threatens any person daring enough to wander across the trestle. Allegedly, many folks have deliberately flung themselves from the trestle to the creek below rather challenge the monster.

A fence has been erected around the trestles to discourage thrill seekers, or perhaps, protect them.

The Beast of Bray Road, Elkhorn, Wis.

Since the late 1980s, reports of a terrifying beast have been surfacing in and around the town of Elkhorn, Wis. According to Unexplained America, 24-year-old Lorianne Endrizzi was driving on Bray Road in the autumn of 1987 when she thought she saw a person kneeling on the side of the road. As she drove closer, she was shocked to make out a form with fur, pointed ears and fangs that resembled a wolf. She would later call the monster as a “freak of nature” and describe how its eyes glowed yellow as the headlights of her vehicle passed.

On Halloween night in 1999, Gods-and-Monsters reports Doristine Gipson also got a glimpse of the beast. She too was driving down Bray Road when her car jolted as if she had hit something. When she climbed out of her vehicle to investigate, a large hairy creature came hulking toward her. She quickly sped off in her car, but not before the beast jumped on her hood.

The television program MonsterQuest picked up the story in January 2008 and subjected numerous Bray Road Beast witnesses to a polygraph. The test’s administrator could find no evidence that the witnesses were being untruthful.

Since the initial sighting, numerous individuals have come forward describing a similar creature. Journalist and investigator Linda Godfrey details these accounts in her book, The Beast of Bray Road.

The Black Angel of Oakland Cemetery, Iowa City, Iowa

According to legend, anyone who kisses or even touches the Black Angel of Oakland Cemetery will die instantly, but that doesn’t stop hundreds of thrill seekers from testing their luck each year. Indeed a popular attraction on Halloween, the Black Angel is missing a few fingers due to vandalism. No reports have emerged regarding what eventually happened to the vandals and whether the Black Angel exacted her revenge remains unknown.

How the Black Angel acquired her sinister hue remains something of a mystery as well. According to Weird U.S., one story claims that Teresa Felevert, buried beneath the Black Angel, was so evil that her wickedness was able to transform the coloring of the monument from beyond the grave. Still another legend claims that Felevert’s husband swore his eternal fidelity and later broke his promise instantly turning the angel a scornful black.

Does the Black Angel kill anyone who dare touch her? While I’m dubious, I wouldn’t touch her with a ten-foot pole.

The Goatman of Old Alton Bridge, Denton, Texas

Connecting the towns of Denton and Copper Canyon, Texas, the Old Alton Bridge is the setting of a baffling mystery and the attempted lynching of a local goat farmer dubbed the Goatman.

According to Denton Haunts and Ghost Stories, Oscar Washburn, a black goat farmer lived near the Old Alton Bridge with his family in the early 1900s. Despite being well liked by his neighbors, Washburn angered Klansmen simply by posting a sign, which read, “This way to the Goatman.” With their headlights off, the Klansmen crossed the bridge one evening and abducted Washburn. Later, they placed a noose around his neck and pushed him from the Old Alton Bridge. When they peered down to ensure Washburn was dead, they were astonished to find the noose empty. Further enraged, the Klansmen murdered Washburn’s wife and children.

Since the time of the mysterious lynching and grisly murders, locals assert that the area is plagued by strange occurrences and other oddities. According to Goatman’s Bridge, many insist that those who dare to cross the bridge at night with their headlights off will be met on the other side by the Goatman.

The bridge is currently closed to vehicles, but remains open to foot traffic. Those brave enough to traverse the bridge at night just might encounter the Goatman.

The Skinwalker Ranch, Uintah County, Utah

In 1994, the Gorman (aka Sherman) family purchased this 480-acre ranch in Uintah County, Utah and immediately the uncanny events began to unfold beginning with a peculiar wolf that greeted the family like a beloved pet. According to journalist George Knapp, when the wolf lost interest in the family and began attacking one of the family’s calves, Tom Gorman retrieved a “.357 Magnum from his truck and shot the wolf at point-blank range. The slug had no noticeable effect.” After nearly six shots at point-blank range, the unfazed wolf simply trotted away.

Over the course of the next several months, the family would continue to experience inexplicable events. According to Knapp, the family would spot strange tropical birds and glimpse creatures reminiscent of Sasquatch. Even more perplexing, several of the family’s livestock were found mutilated. Additionally, the family witnessed strange aerial objects and glowing orbs in the sky above the ranch.

In 1995, the National Institute of Discovery Science purchased the ranch from the Gormans and installed surveillance cameras to capture the unusual activity. Knapp reported for KLAS-TV that the cameras were disassembled by an unseen entity.

George Knapp and NIDS scientist, Colm Kelleher chronicled the perplexing events that have occurred on the ranch in their book Hunt for the Skinwalker: Science Confronts the Unexplained at a Remote Ranch in Utah.

If you have strange tale to tell, leave a comment or email me.


1 comment:

Sabrina said...

I see that you are from Illinois. I lived in Illinois for 14 years. Btw, I like your blog.