The Imaginary Monsters of U.S. Cities

By JOHN METCALFE

If you want to catch a cryptid doing its thing in America, common sense would deem you drive far out into the woods where humankind rarely ventures. After all, it’s typically hunters and hikers who wind up having awkward run-ins with Bigfoot or the Flatwoods monster.

But city dwellers who want a taste of the supernatural ought not to despair. A deep riffling through the musty archives of American folklore reveal several beasties who have given up their woodsy pad for the fast-paced life of the big city.

THE SARASOTA SKUNK APE

The Skunk Ape, or “Booger,” terrorized Florida (meaning, stole some apples from a lady’s porch) in the 1960s and ’70s. It is said to stand upright and smell just awful. Skeptics theorize it is an escaped orangutan.

THE DETROIT NAIN ROUGE

This tiny red dwarf is the source of all of Detroit’s historical woes, including its depressed economy, some folks believe. Sporting red eyes and rotten teeth, the Nain Rouge allegedly appeared before the 1763 Battle of Bloody Run and 1967′s 12th Street Riot. Nightclub patrons caught it in 1996 running away from a car break-in while wearing a “really nasty torn fur coat.”

THE GOATMAN OF D.C.

This federal agricultural scientist was the victim of an experiment on goats gone horribly wrong. Nowadays, the Goatman roams the D.C. area attacking victims with an axe. However, he also might just be a crazy old hermit who lives in the woods, as per one report.

THE LAKE CHAMPLAIN MONSTER

Champy the Happy Plesiosaur was the original Loch Ness Monster, first spotted in Lake Champlain in 1883 by a sheriff who described a “giant water serpent” with white spots inside its mouth. P.T. Barnum later put a $50,000 bounty on its snakelike head. Today, Champy serves as the mascot for the Vermont Lake Monsters mascot, a minor league baseball team in Burlington, Vermont.

THE MOLE PEOPLE OF NYC

Shuffling, nearly blind homeless people are said to live in the steam-and-dust-filled tunnels of New York’s MTA, subsisting on large rats they call “raccoons.” Jennifer Toth described her dealings with this subterranean race in her 1993 book “The Mole People,” saying most were crazy or drug-addicted. Many of Toth’s claims have been disputed, but filmmaker Marc Singer verified at least one underground shantytown in the 2000 documentary “Dark Days.”

BOSTON’S DOVER DEMON

Witnesses spotted this unhealthy-looking specimen in 1977 climbing a wall near a bar in Dover, 15 miles southwest of Boston. Newspapers that carried the drawing you see here told of a hairless beast with a watermelon-sized head, orange eyes and no mouth. Oh, and it squawked like a hawk-snake.

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