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From Pigman to Melon Heads: The 10 Most Haunting Folk Creatures in the United States

Sure, you’re a man of rational thought who would never believe in the likes of lake-dwelling sea monsters or goat-like Chupacabras. But not everyone, dear friend, is as logical as you. Oh no, not in the least.

For centuries, Americans across the country have bought into regional legends and the existence of mythical folk creatures, so much so that persistent sightings continue to this day.

But which ones are the most popular and prominent? From a pig dude in Vermont to a land-fish in Colorado, here are 10 of the most legendary creatures in the United States. Fact or fiction? You tell us.

Mothman

Point Pleasant, WV
Mothman, a terrifying 7ft beast with red eyes and wings, has spawned books, movies, and even a museum and research center. From 1966 to 1967, it allegedly terrorized the Point Pleasant area of West Virginia and hundreds of witnesses reported having seen it. The sightings, however, ended abruptly after a 700ft bridge collapsed in December of 1967, killing 46 people and leading many to believe that the Mothman was involved.

 

The Slide-Rock Bolter

Colorado
Also known as the Macrostoma saxiperrumptus, the Slide-Rock Bolter lives in Colorado's Rocky Mountains and reportedly survives by snacking on hapless tourists. Like a giant land-fish, the Bolter is rumored to have a huge head with slits for eyes, massive teeth, and a split fin that somehow attaches to the mountain. When the creature spots dinner, it unhooks itself and swiftly slides down the slope on its own drool and scoops up its prey.

Char-Man

Ojai Valley, CA
California’s Ojai Valley is said to be haunted by the ghost of a man who reportedly died in a massive wildfire in 1948. According to legend, he emerges from the forest to attack passing cars and hikers, attempting to peel off their skin and replace it with his own.
 

Champ

Lake Champlain, NY/VT/Canada
Although local Native American tribes called it “Tatoskok”, “North America’s Loch Ness Monster” is lovingly known today as Champ, after the lake it lives in. There have been over 300 reported sightings of the long-necked sea creature dating back to at least 1609, when French explorer and Québec founder Samuel de Champlain (or at least one of his crew members) spotted it on the lake’s shores.

Bigfoot

Pacific Northwest
The most famous urban legend of all, tales of a yeti-like Sasquatch that roams the country (but is most frequently spotted in the Northwest) date back 400 years; even Native Americans tell stories about seeing an ape-like beast in the wild. Reports vary, but most agree that Bigfoot resembles a large, hairy man-monkey with huge, size-24 feet. Don’t believe it? Take it up with the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization, a group of scientists and journalists founded in 1995 that are determined to prove Bigfoot’s existence.
 

Pigman

Northfield, VT
We're not talking about the fat little mental patient Kramer came across in the hospital. No, this Vermont legend started in 1971 with the disappearance of some farm animals but culminated when a 20yr-old farmer vanished as well, forever. When the Pigman -- a two-legged, white-haired pig-human -- was spotted a few months later, it was immediately blamed for the disappearances. The creature's believed to hang out in an area known as the Devil's Washbowl, and locals even claim to have uncovered a cave filled with gnawed animal bones and the Pigman's cloven hoofprints.

The Jersey Devil

The Jersey Devil

Pine Barrens, NJ
This famous tale claims that in 1735, upon realizing she was pregnant for the 13th time, a woman named Mother Leeds offered her unborn child to the devil. And, apparently, the devil took her up on the offer. Within minutes of popping out, the newborn boy transformed into a terrifying creature – sprouting talons, hooved feet, and bat-like wings --  and immediately killed mom, the midwife, and as many siblings as he could before disappearing into the night. To this day, sightings persist, and people claim that the Jersey Devil roams around Pine Barrens attacking anyone unfortunate enough to stumble into its path.
 

Grunches

New Orleans, LA
Grunches are essentially the American version of Mexican Chupacabras; small, goat-like creatures with horns that allegedly attack and mutilate livestock before draining them of their blood. New Orleans' Grunch Road is said to be rife with them, and to this day, locals lock up their pets at night. Although, admittedly, since Grunches are said to be able to walk through walls, this seems a bit futile.

Nain Rouge (aka The Red Dwarf of Detroit)

Detroit, MI
Legend has it that the founder of Detroit, Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, went to a fortune-teller in 1701 after being plagued by recurring dreams of a red dwarf with horrible teeth. After being warned that he’d been dreaming of the Nain Rouge, a bad omen that only appears when trouble is brewing, Cadillac eventually came across the damn imp and drove him away. Unfortunately, he still fell on hard times, lost everything, and returned to France broke; trouble, it would seem, was indeed brewing for Antoine. Today, the city holds an annual parade called the Marche Du Nain Rouge.
 

Melon Heads

Ottawa County, MI, Trumbull, Shelton, Stratford and Monroe, CT, and Kirtland in Cleveland, OH
Tiny humans with massive noggins, Melon Heads might sound like delicious candy, but they're actually vicious creatures that will eat YOU; legend has it that these pint-sized predators attack their victims on empty back roads, especially during the full moon. Where did the come from? Some believe they escaped from an insane asylum after turning feral from mistreatment, while others think they're mysterious orphans or incestuous hillbillies.


Chloe Pantazi is an editorial assistant on Thrillist's travel team. Yes, that's a British accent. No, she doesn't watch Doctor Who. Follow her on Twitter at @ChloePantazi.