Cryptids (noun): an animal (such as Sasquatch or the Loch Ness Monster) that has been claimed to exist but never proven to exist.
Everyone knows the legend of Bigfoot. Stories of the large creature scaring hikers and leaving gigantic footprints have been circulating for years and take up most of the attention when it comes to cryptid sightings. But did you know that each state in America has a legend equally as captivating?
Whether you’re fascinated by the mythology or looking for a clever Halloween costume, here are some creepy cryptids said to be found in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast regions.
The Squonk is by far the saddest creature there is. Known for its ill-fitted skin covered in warts, the legend says the pig-like animal is so ashamed of its appearance that it hides from plain sight and spends most of its time weeping. Reputed to live in the hemlock forests of northern Pennsylvania, sightings began in the late nineteenth century when the state’s timber and hunting industry were thriving. Many lumberjacks claim to have spotted the creature after following its trail of tears and that, when cornered, the creature will disintegrate into a puddle of its own tears.
Virginia: The Snallygaster
The Snallygaster has been described as part bird, part reptile, and part vampire creature with razor-sharp teeth and claws, long spindly legs, and wings that span up to 30 feet across. Legend says it can fly at speeds over 100 miles per hour and that it can separate its head from its body, allowing it to see around corners. Originating in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Frederick County, many early settlers made claims of being terrorized by the cryptid. Eventually, sightings started to spread across the country and became so popular that at one point there were rumors that President Theodore Roosevelt was planning on postponing a trip to Europe to lead a hunt for the beast. It was also rumored that the creature died after flying into a boiling vat of moonshine.
Residing in the Chesapeake Bay area, Chessie is said to be a large, serpent-like sea monster with an elongated body that can grow up to 60 feet in length. Sightings of this creature have been reported all the way back in 1878 off the coast of Maryland. Some believe Chessie is merely a large sturgeon or other fish, while others swear it is a sea serpent.
West Virginia: Mothman
Mothman is up there with Bigfoot as one of the world’s most well-known cryptids. The first sighting of the creature was near Point Pleasant, W.Va., in the late 1960s. Many sightings followed describing a large, winged human-like figure with glowing red eyes. Though its stories originate in West Virginia, Mothman has become a worldwide phenomenon with many sightings being linked to great tragedies. The first one recorded was the collapse of Silver Bridge near Point Pleasant. There have been disputes over whether or not Mothman appears to warn people of upcoming doom or if it’s responsible for it.
North Carolina: Vampire Beast
Also known as the Beast of Bladenboro, the Vampire Beast is known for potentially being linked to hundreds of strange animal deaths in Bladenboro, N.C. This mythical being has been described as having a humanoid and catlike body shape with long claws and sharp teeth. Many believe that the animal was simply a common feline species, which led to locals banning together to hunt and kill a large bobcat.
South Carolina: Lizard Man of Scape Ore Swamp
The Lizard Man of Scape Ore Swamp is described as having a reptilian humanoid shape with bright green scaly skin, long arms, and sharp claws. It has reportedly been seen prowling around at night, sometimes chasing after cars or people who come too close to its territory.
The Altamaha-ha is an aquatic creature said to inhabit the Altamaha River of Georgia. It’s described as being large and serpentine, with green scales and eyes that glow in the dark. Witnesses have reported seeing it swimming in the waters at night, often diving below the surface before anyone can get too close. Reports of this creature attacking boats or people are rare, but some locals believe it could be dangerous.
Florida: Skunk Ape
Also known as “The Florida Bigfoot,” the Skunk Ape is an elusive creature said to inhabit the swamps of Florida, especially the Everglades. There have been hundreds of sightings describing it as being large and ape-like with dark fur, a strong odor (hence its name), and glowing eyes. Reports of this creature have been going on for many years, usually involving sightings near lakes or rivers in heavily wooded or swampy areas.
Cover photo courtesy of Getty Images.