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History of American Cryptids

America’s most famous cryptids

March 2024

Script

The man who made Bigfoot a household name ... did it by accident.

In 1958, loggers in northern California reported finding unusually large footprints in the woods.i

“Maybe we have a relative of the Abominable Snowman,” journalist Andrew Genzoli quipped in his local newspaper column.ii

Genzoli was joking ... but he nevertheless launched a full-blown legend.

Since then, there have been over 10,000 Bigfoot sightings, occurring in every state except Hawaii.iii

Amateur sleuths, scientists, and even the FBI have investigated the famous sasquatch.iv

No one’s ever found any evidence that withstood scientific scrutiny — which makes sense, because those original footprints were a hoax perpetrated by a member of a local construction crew.v

Bigfoot isn't the only monster rumored to be traipsing around the United States.

Since the 1700s, New Jersey residents have spoken of a winged, goatlike beast that lives in the state’s Pine Barrens.vi

The “Jersey Devil” is said to be the cursed 13th child of a colonial family that dabbled in sorcery.vii

Interest in the monster has ebbed and flowed over the years.

During a mass hysteria in 1909, sightings of the Jersey Devil grew so common that some local schools shut down.

And by the 1950s New Jersey state troopers were telling monster-hunters that the Jersey Devil was a hoax ... because too many of them were turning up in the Pine Barrens drunk and armed.

Hoax or not, the monster’s legacy lives on in the name of Newark’s NHL franchise: the New Jersey Devils.

Further south, legend tells of a monster that makes the Jersey Devil look tame by comparison.

West Virginia’s “Mothman” is said to be a 7-foot-tall pale humanoid with giant moth’s wings and glowing red eyes.viii

Two couples out for a drive first reported him in 1966, when they claimed the Mothman chased their car down the road ... and kept up with them even as they accelerated to 100 MPH.

The Mothman gained national attention after being the subject of a 2002 movie starring Richard Gere.

While the Mothman is uniquely American, another monster seems to have taken some inspiration from abroad.

Lake Champlain, located on the border of Vermont and New York, is supposedly home to Champix — a creature that bears a suspicious resemblance to the Loch Ness Monster.

There have been more than 300 Champ sightings over the years,x although a famous account by the explorer Samuel de Champlain ... seems to have actually just been a sturgeon.

Today, Vermont and New York both have laws protecting Champ should the creature prove to be real.

Mothman, however, is to be arrested on sight.

 

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

  1. The Bigfoot legend began with a half-serious 1958 story in a California newspaper. 
  2. New Jersey and West Virginia are said to be home to terrifying monsters called the Jersey Devil and Mothman, respectively. 
  3. New York and Vermont have passed laws protecting Champ, the mythic sea creature said to reside in a lake that borders both states. 

Source(s)

  1. "How the Bigfoot Legend Began" (Becky Little)  History Channel
  2. "An Excerpt From Bigfoot: The Life and Times of a Legend" (Joshua Blu Buhs)  University of Chicago Press
  3. "Is Bigfoot Real? Everything You Need To Know about the Sasquatch" (Patrick Pester and Benjamin Radford)  Live Science
  4. "Bigfoot Is Back. (Bigfoot Never Left.)" (Claire Moses)  New York Times
  5. "Why Do So Many People Still Want To Believe in Bigfoot?" (Ben Crair)  Smithsonian Magazine
  6. The Jersey Devil and Folklore  Pinelands Preservation Alliance 
  7. "The Devil and the Details" (Bob Dreyfuss)  Cape May Magazine
  8. "An Ode to a Hometown Creature: Mothman of Point Pleasant, West Virginia" (Gwen Mallow)  Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
  9. Champ, the Lake Champlain Monster  Lake Champlain Region
  10. "Evidence of Champ? An Overview of Lake Champlain’s Most Famous Sightings" (April Fisher)  Burlington Free Press

Shownotes

Sources

  1. History Channel
    "How the Bigfoot Legend Began" (Becky Little)
  2. University of Chicago Press
    "An Excerpt From Bigfoot: The Life and Times of a Legend" (Joshua Blu Buhs)
  3. Live Science
    "Is Bigfoot Real? Everything You Need To Know about the Sasquatch" (Patrick Pester and Benjamin Radford)
  4. New York Times
    "Bigfoot Is Back. (Bigfoot Never Left.)" (Claire Moses)
  5. Smithsonian Magazine
    "Why Do So Many People Still Want To Believe in Bigfoot?" (Ben Crair)
  6. Pinelands Preservation Alliance 
    The Jersey Devil and Folklore 
  7. Cape May Magazine
    "The Devil and the Details" (Bob Dreyfuss) 
  8. Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
    "An Ode to a Hometown Creature: Mothman of Point Pleasant, West Virginia" (Gwen Mallow)
  9. Lake Champlain Region
    Champ, the Lake Champlain Monster
  10. Burlington Free Press
    "Evidence of Champ? An Overview of Lake Champlain’s Most Famous Sightings" (April Fisher)

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