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30 Scary Monster Legends from Across the United States

You might want to think twice about taking that cross-country road trip.


Get ready to encounter the most terrifying legendary creatures lurking in the shadows of the United States. 


1. Cassie

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  • Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The first sighting of Cassie, a giant sea serpent (between 60 and 150 ft. long) living in the frigid waters of Maine’s Casco Bay was in 1777. It’s been reported to be a fast swimmer and has even been reported as having been seen up close. A Naval Ensign named Edward Preble even had a close encounter with Cassie where the monster looked him square in the face. It apparently frightened Preble so badly that he fired a cannon at it and scared it away.

All told there’ve been four well documented sightings of Cassie leading up to the 1950s as well as many other anecdotal sightings.

Related: Bunyip: Australia’s Terrifying Cryptid of the Swamp

2. Champ

Also known as the Lake Champlain Monster (named so because it was first seen in Lake Champlain around New York and Vermont), Champ was first sighted in 1609 and has since hundreds of tourists and locals have also claimed to have seen it. In 1819, Captain Crum described the beast as being 187 feet long with three large visible teeth and eyes the color of onion peels. The beast also had a belt of red around its neck and a white star on its forehead.

In 1977, Sandra Mansi managed a photo of what she believed was the monster swimming close by. Although the photos were analyzed by forensics experts and deemed to have been unaltered, there’s still a lot of controversy as to whether what it shows is actually Champ or something else.

3. The Jersey Devil

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Much more than simply another legendary monster, the Jersey Devil is believed to have once been a child born to a witch named Mother Leeds and the actual Devil in 1735. Developing hooves, a goat’s head, bat wings, and a forked tail, the child who would become the Jersey Devil killed its midwife and fled into the forest. Although a minister managed to exorcise the demon for 100 years it returned in 1840.

When it was again sighted in 1909, schools were closed and workers stayed home in order to avoid being attacked by the demonic creature. Over the decades, numerous rewards have been offered for the capture of the devil but, as yet, no one has been able to claim it.

4. Kipsy

First reported in 1610, Kipsy, also known as the Hudson Valley Monster, is reputed to a large serpent like beast similar to those seen in many other parts of the world. More recently, alleged sightings began again in 2006 with one witness stating that the creatures back was as broad as an elephant’s back. Unfortunately, no images exist of this very old American monster.

Related: 5 Urban Legends That Came to Life

5. Thunderbirds

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Thunderbird are giant black birds, sometimes described as reptilian that have been seen as far west as Arizona and, more recently, as far east as Pennsylvania. In 2014 alone there were seven sightings of the giant birds there. The legend of the Thunderbird goes all the way back to ancient Indian lore and tales from the Old West include horrifying instances of the giant winged creates grasping full grown men and carrying them off the ground before dropping them.

One witness in New Florence, PA claimed that the bird he saw had a wingspan of at least 12 feet.

6. The Mothman

The infamous Mothman of West Virginia wasn’t spotted until 1966 when gravediggers in the area of Clendelin reported that a man-sized creature with odd wings swooped down over their heads from the nearby treetops. Soon after, two separate couples and two volunteer fireman reported seeing the same thing with the added description that the creature had red eyes. One of the couples reported that the Mothman even flew after them as they tried to drive away in their car.

Although there hasn’t been a sighting of the Mothman since 1967, the town of Point Pleasant, WV holds an annual Mothman festival in September of each year.

7. Pukwudgie

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The Pukwidgie (meaning ‘person of the wilderness’) is a two to three foot tall troll-like creature with big ears, hands, feet, a big nose and grey skin that are recorded in the legends of the Wampanoag people who populated what is now called Massachusetts. Tricksters, the Pukwidgie have magical powers that they initially used just to kind of mess with people but after they were briefly banished by a giant they came back with a vengeance, a literal vengeance, seeking to trick and kill any human that they could. The following is a list of their powers.

They can appear and disappear at will

They can transform into a walking porcupine (it looks like a porcupine from the back, and the front is half-troll, half-human and walks upright)

They can attack people and lure them to their deaths

They are able to use magic

They have poison arrows

They can create fire at will

Pukwudgies control Tei-Pai-Wankas which are believed to be the souls of Native Americans they have killed.

At one point they were just annoying but now they’re murderous and may do anything ranging from playing harmless tricks to stealing children.

Related: Spirit of the Swamp: the Eerie Legend of the Pukwudgie


8. Knobby

Often referred to as the Bigfoot of North Carolina, Knobby was given the name because the first sighting around an area called Carpenter’s Knob near Kings Mountain. Knobby was seen by at least a dozen people in the area back in 1979. Here’s how one witness described the creature.

“I seen its eyes first. Then I seen its oval shaped head. Then I seen the hair hanging off of him about 4 or 5 inches. I seen his left arm bowed out beside of him. I could see every finger and thumb,” said Lunsford. “I never did see it no more and I never did go back looking for it.”

The biggest difference between Knobby and the Bigfoot of the West is that Knobby has blonde hair instead of brown or black.

9. The Lizard Man of Scape Ore Swamp

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First spotted in 1988 near Scape Ore Swamp in South Carolina, the Lizard Man is described as being 7 feet tall with three fingers on each of its feet and hands and highly aggressive. During its first sighting, the man who saw it while changing his tire was pursued by the creature and it even leapt onto his rooftop while he drove away.

“I looked back and saw something running across the field towards me. It was about 25 yards away and I saw red eyes glowing. I ran into the car and as I locked it, the thing grabbed the door handle. I could see him from the neck down–the three big fingers, long black nails and green rough skin. It was strong and angry. I looked in my mirror and saw a blur of green running. I could see his toes and then he jumped on the roof of my car. I thought I heard a grunt and then I could see his fingers through the front windshield, where they curled around on the roof. I sped up and swerved to shake the creature off.”

Other sightings of the creature followed and were consist, a bipedal lizard creature ranging from green to dark in color with red eyes.

10. The Wampus Cat

The Wampus Cat of East Tennessee likely has its origins in Cherokee legend where it is said that a young girl once disguised herself in the skin of a cougar in order to spy on the men of her tribe as they sat around the campfire telling sacred hunting stories. Once discovered, the medicine man of the tribe punished her by turning her into a creature that was half woman and half cat.

Descriptions of the Wampus Cat itself vary but the creature is often depicted with two hind legs and four front legs and of greater size than any cougar. Folk legend in East Tennessee says that if you hear the cry of the Wampus Cat then it means that someone nearby will die within the next three days.

11. The Pope Lick Monster

Part man, part goat, and part sheep, the Pope Lick Monster is reputed to live underneath the railway trestle above Pope Lick Creek in Louisville, Kentucky. Legend has it that the monster is either a true human and goat hybrid or a circus freak who spent its life in torment prior to escaping and now seeks revenge. Still one other legend says that the monster is a farmer who was reincarnated after sacrificing goats to Satan in exchange for power.

Regardless of its origin, the monster is said to be able to both mimic human voices or put its victims in a hypnotic state in order to lure them onto the tracks and into the path of oncoming trains.

12. Skunk Apes

Inhabiting Florida, North Carolina, and Arkansas, the Skunk Ape is a bipedal humanoid creature between six and seven feet tall. Appearing much like Bigfoot, the Skunk Ape is also said to be accompanied by an unpleasant odor.

13. Altamaha-Ha

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Hailing from Southern Georgia, Altamaha-Ha has been reported since native tribes inhabited the area. Green and up to 30 feet long, Altamaha-Ha is said to inhabit the streams and abandoned rice fields of the mouth of the Altamaha River.

14. The Honey Island Swamp Monster

Another variant of Bigfoot under a different name, the Honey Island Swamp Monster was sighted in Louisiana and Mississippi as early as the 1960s by those living in remote bayou communities. A man named Harlan Ford was the first to film the creature on now primitive 8mm film. Described as being near seven feet tall, the creature bears all the descriptive markings of a Bigfoot-like ape.

Related: Slenderman: the Meme That Led to Attempted Murder

15. Fouke Monster

Interest in the Fouke Monster was rekindled in the 1970s as a result of a number of cattle being seemingly slaughtered and eaten in the town of Fouke, Arkansas. Described as hairy and having a distinctive stench, the beast was described as being a circa seven feet tall bipedal humanoid with eyes the size of silver dollars.

However, the 1970s weren’t the first time the creature was reported. In 1851, 1856, and 1875, a creature exactly like the Fouke Monster was described as being responsible for the disappearance of cattle in other parts of Arkansas. Since then, dozens of sightings have been reported.

16. Big Bird

“Big Bird” is a giant winged creature first sighted in Texas in 1976 first by two young girls and later by a police officer who claimed the creature was five feet tall with a 12 foot wingspan. Later on the same day a father and son who were out fishing saw a creature matching the description of the both the officer and the two girls. Here’s just one of several accounts of encountering the creature.

On January 14, 1976, Raymondville resident Armando Grimaldo claimed to have had the most harrowing encounter yet chronicled with this aerial atrocity. According to Grimaldo, he heard a loud flapping sound accompanied by a odd whistling noise while walking outside. Just as he glanced up to find the source of this strange noise a pair of large, talon-like claws grabbed onto the back of his shoulders, tearing his shirt and sending him crashing to the ground.


17. Bessie

Many believe “Big Bird” to be one of the Thunderbirds sighted elsewhere in the U.S.

Believed to be hidden in the depths of Lake Erie, Bessie, as it’s affectionally called, is a legendary sea monster first sighted in the late 1700s. Unlike some other plesiosaur looking monsters, Bessie is described explicitly as a serpent like creature from 16 to 40 feet in length and of a dark copper color. In 1817, several men, upon seeing the creature, reported firing their muskets at it in unison but that it had no visible effect.

Later sightings took place in the late 1800s with the most recent sighting being in 1993.

18. The Loveland Frogmen

Perhaps the most bizarre creature on this entire list of bizarre creatures, the Frogmen of Loveland, Ohio are described as being between three and four foot tall biped humanoids with frog heads, webbed hands and feet, and reptilian skin. The first sighting was in 1955 from a man an unnamed man who claims he saw three of the creatures by the side of the road when he was changing a tire. The entire affair would likely have ended there had a police officer not had a similar encounter 17 years later.

In the span of seconds this crouched, frog-like creature, stood on two legs, stared back at the police man, then scrambled over the guard rail and scurried down the embankment, finally disappearing into the Little Miami River.

Not long after, another officer claimed to have seen nearly the exact same thing. A farmer also came forward with a bizarre tale of coming upon four such creatures while inspecting his fields.

Related: The Loveland Frog: Ohio’s Creepy Amphibian Cryptid

19. Momo

Momo’ is short for Missouri Monster and this legendary American beast is yet another derivation of the Bigfoot ape species spotted in nearly every part of the U.S. Even better, this one’s tracks are backed up by science as being attributed to “an unknown primate species.”

Since 1971, Momo has been seen or detected seven times by over a dozen different people. It’s described as tall, 7’1″, with a roundish head and hair so thick that it even seems to cover the creature’s eyes.

20. The Beast of Busco

The common description of the Beast of Busco hailing from Churubusco, Indiana is a very simple one. The Beast is a 500 pound alligator snapping turtle. The thing is that a normal one can already get huge, like so.

They commonly tip the scale at over 300 pounds and there are even stories of a Kansas turtle that weighed 405 pounds. Of course these are the biggest ones but it would not be impossible for an alligator snapping turtle to eventually reach this size especially since it’s also possible for them live to 200 years of age.

21. The Ozark Howler

Hidden deep in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri and Oklahoma hides the Ozark Howler, purported to be a giant cat as big as a bear with horns.

22. Alkali Lake Monster

Lurking in the deep waters of Alkali Lake, formed from the crater of giant volcano lies the Alkali Lake Monster, a beast purported to 40 feet long with a giant horn protruding from the middle of its forehead. First sighted in 1922, eyewitnesses claimed the back and shape of its body somewhat resembled that of an alligator although far more powerfully built. Seen from no further than 60 feet away, the newspaper the Omaha Herald stated, once spotted, the beast let out an enormous roar before it sank again into the inky depths of the lake.


23. Shunka Warakin

Getting its name from a Loway Indian term meaning “carries off dogs,” the Shunka Warakin was first mentioned in Native American lore. Although it resembles a wolf, it is both taller and heavier with a snout that more resembles that of a Hyena rather than an American Gray Wolf.

A rancher claims to have shot a Shunka Warakin in 1886 and provided a photo of the animal once stuffed. While its unclear whether the rancher’s story is true, many believe that the tales of the Shunka Warakin stem from Native American cultural memory of dire wolves which once existed in great numbers across North America … and may still exist.

Related: The Beast of Bodmin Moor

24. The Flathead Lake Monster

Flathead Lake is located in Montana and tells of a monster living in that lake have existed since at least the late 1800s. Most sightings occur during the Spring and Summer months and have occurred frequently, approximately once to twice every year.

The beast is reported to be similar to that of a giant sturgeon which are able to achieve weights of 1,000 pounds however the Flathead Lake Monster is reported to be much larger and up to 40 feet in length. In 1993 there was even a sighting of two of the creatures swimming together.

25. Caddy

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26. Paddler

Located in Idaho, Lake Pend Oreille is 40 miles long and 1,100 feet in depth. Plenty of space for a monster affectionately called ‘Paddler’ by locals to hide. There have been numerous sightings of paddler since the 1940s, many of which describe a prehistoric creature of a greyish green color with a long neck that extends out of the water.

27. Bigfoot

The most popular of all American monsters, Bigfoot or Sasquatch is known far and wide as being by far the most spotted beast of its kind in the country. With thousands of people claiming to have seen and even video recorded the creature and the enormous footprints it leaves behind, the creature’s legend has spawned an entire industry of monster hunters.

One thing you may not know is that the Anglicized word Sasquatch is derived from the native Halkomelem word sásq’ets meaning ‘wild man.’

Bigfoot sightings have mostly occurred in the Pacific Northwest although you can see just from this list that sightings of the creature range far and wide where other names have been given to what appears to be the same creature. The above 1967 Patterson–Gimlin film claims it shows a Bigfoot.

Related: A Creature Stalks These Woods…

28. The Bear Lake Monster

Found in Bear Lake on the border of Utah and Idaho and first spotted in the late 1800s, the monster is described as something that looks very much like a giant alligator or crocodile except it possesses prehistoric dimensions. Sightings have been few and far between since that time but there was one claimed sighting in 2004.

29. Chupacabra

The Chupacabra or “goat sucker” is perhaps the second most famous of America’s legendary creatures. With a reptilian appearance, the Chupacabra has also been reported as having quills down its back and appears to move by hopping. While it’s most commonly associated with the Southwest in America, the creature has been reported as far east as Puerto Rico and as far north as Maine.

It gets its name from its legendary tendency to attack livestock, specifically goats, and drink their blood like a vampire. Many modern depictions of the creature in the contemporary media depict the Chupacabra as a dog like creature but this is a deviation from the original description.

30. The Mogollon Monster

Often called the Bigfoot of Arizona, the Mogollan Monster is similar to its more popular cousin in almost every way except it also appears to be a mimic, able to copy the calls of birds and other animals. It also appears to have a variety of fur colors ranging from white to black.

In 2006, a member of the White Mountain Apache nation of Arizona stated that there had been more sightings of the creature in recent years than ever before to the point that they could no longer be ignored.

This story was first published on Creepy Catalog

Feature photo: Chris Rice / Flickr (CC)