A Field Guide To The Imaginary Beasts, Cryptids And Monsters Of America

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Just in time for Halloween, here's a guide to the lesser-known imaginary creatures that plague the small towns, cities, and wilds of America, ranging from a haunted truck that travels the backroads to Maryland's own dragon, drawn from your submissions.

Did you know that local lore places a dragon right square in the hills of Maryland? Commenter DL Thurston has the details:

Someone else from Northern Virginia already chimed in with the Bunny Man, and I've seen a few people from Maryland mentioning their cryptids, but I don't yet see the Snallygaster. It's said to be a dragon roaming the hills of Maryland. The legend used to be far more popular in the early 1900s with the Smithsonian offering a bounty for its hide, and Teddy Roosevelt trying to bring in hunters to catch the beast. We have an annual beer fest downtown named Snallygaster after the beast, and I hope that brings more attention to the fact that there's legends of a god damned dragon living in the area.


Meanwhile, over in Michigan, stories of the Dogman abound:


Northern Michigan is home to the Dogman. There was a creepy little song written about it, saying that he "walks on two legs, and screams".

Valerie Jo

My favorite sighting. A guy is on a lonely little lake deep in the woods doing some fishing. He hears splashing and sees a dog swimming towards him. No it's too big. It must be a deer. No, it's not a deer, that's a big dog, but it's not doing the doggy paddle. It's swimming overhand like person and it's definitely aiming for his canoe. In a dead panic, he paddles as fast as can but the creature is between him and sandy bar where he launched. He aims for any spot on the shore knowing the trees and shrubs will slow him down when climbs out of his canoe. Somehow, scratched from branches and soaking wet, he makes it to his car, abandons his canoe, and drives as fast as the little 2 track road will let him. Later, he comes back with friends to get his canoe, and sees some very deep dog tracks on the sandy bank.


The most famous of the mythical sea creatures make their home in Scotland's lochs. But, a whole bunch of local myths insist that Nessie's near-cousins reside in lakes and rivers much closer to home:


The only one I know anywhere near here is the Altamaha-ha; a sea creature that supposedly lives in the area around the mouth of the Altamaha river in southeast Georgia.

There isn't much about it; it's your typical "sea-serpent" about 30 feet long and green.

Platypus Man

In the Cleveland area, there's the Lake Erie Monster, but I'm not sure if that's a thing people actually believe in or just the basis of the local hockey team's name. I think it's supposed to be like the Loch Ness Monster, except American.


Town I live in, Gloucester, MA was originally a fishing village, as far back as the early 1800s (perhaps earlier) fisherman used to report a sea serpent in the way, tangling nets, eating their catch and other happenings. As the bay was over fished sightings of the monster grew further and further out to sea until they seemingly stopped all together.

It's still a staple of local lore, and there's even some old graffiti on one of the beaches supposedly "depicting" the monster. it even supposedly attacked a British sailing vessel, but much of the story is mired in the fanaticism of the time.

Ian Lord

In Lake Champlain between Vermont and New York State, we have a lake monster named Champ. He's the mascot of the local Burlington, Vt., minor league baseball team.


In Maryland, we have Chessie, a cryptid who is said to resemble a long, snake-like creature, from 25 feet to 40 feet long first starting in 1943 along various portions of The Chesapeake Bay. The most recent "sighting" was on April 5th 2014, a bit after 1am.

In all likelihood, this large critter was/is a very large eel, or group of them. Sturgeons also used to heavily populate The Chesapeake Bay. Could've been one of them.


Ooooh- Utah has one of the more notable ones in the West- the Bear Lake Monster.

Accounts differ as to exactly what it is, but general consensus is that it's reptillian. Some accounts describe it as a giant serpent, others describe what I picture as cross between a gator and a platypus. It supposedly can swim faster than a horse could run on land. It's also very large, varying in accounts from 40 to 100 feet long.


Some of the imaginary beasts have more of a historical pedigree than others, like this one from commenter simon-on-the-river3, that wraps in the home of George Washington, Alice in Wonderland, and this picture of a gigantic, poisonous worm.

I posted a bit about this a couple of weeks ago. The North East, up round where George Washington came from, has the legend of the Lambton worm. There are several different versions, but they centre on John Lambton who catches a small worm or eel like creature and then casts it down a well.

In time, the worm grows into a large poisonous beast, curled round the hill, and capable of carrying off man and cattle alike. Lambton then takes it upon himself to battle the creature and slay it. Some versions add an oath that Lambton says he will kill the first person he sees as a sacrifice if he survives his encounter with the creature. This turns out to be his father, so he kills their dog instead. Coming back to the real world, subseuent heirs to the Lambton title have met untimely ends (which has inspired a few legends in itself).

Some say this happened on Penshaw Hill where the Earl of Durham built a Roman-style folly in 1844, others point to Worm Hill in Fatfield which allegedly bears the constriction marks where the creature was curled round it.

Apart from Lambton inspiring this legend, his descendent Alice Lidell is the inspiration for Alice in Wonderland, taking on an equally mythical status.


Of course, not every local monster is flesh and blood. Commenter behinddarkglasses shared this tale of a truck that terrorized the surrounding countryside:

Not a legendary monster per se but we also have a "Demon Truck" that will try to kill you on 7 Hills Road. My sister and her friends once took me and my best friend Billy (both 10) driving around to try to find the Demon Truck. She was babysitting me, my Dad was working an overnight shift at the A&P to do inventory, Billy was spending the night. We drove out to 7 Hills while her and her friends told us spooky stories about the Demon Truck and some story about satanist that worshipped in an abandoned church nearby. It was pretty scary when we ended up turning down a road and got a bit lost.


And finally, commenter guest_age comes in with a story about West Virginia's Mothman and the real best reason to share these stories: "To have an excuse to get together and sell apple butter":

Where I live, we have the Mothman. If you're thinking of the Richard Gere movie, don't. That movie is based on a book by John Keel where he took the actual legend (that some people saw a thing they couldn't explain), combined that with his own UFO and conspiracy theories, and created the myth/lore that you see in the film.

We have an annual Mothman festival because West Virginians will use any excuse to set up a flea market and sell overpriced funnel cakes (not that I am complaining, mind) and there's even a statue.

It's mostly all in good fun. I've yet to meet anyone in person who actually believes it's real. More just like "we know it's not, but it's fun to pretend, and it gives us an excuse to get together and sell apple butter so let's just go with it."


Top image: Mothman by JoeLercio on DeviantArt