Jersey Devil

Local Legends and Creatures of North America

Local Legends and Creatures of North America

Tis the season to explore all things that go bump in the night, keep us awake and give us a fright! Please join me as I look at local legends across North America, their origins, and the best books and movies to see on the subject.
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The Wendigo comes from Algonquin legend and is native to the Atlantic coast of Canada and the USA. There are several variations of the beast, but most popular is that the creature is a forest dwelling, evil spirit.
Physically it’s described as a giant with elongated limbs and protruding or visible bones. It often is said to have antlers or be half man half deer. The beast lives primarily off the flesh of humans and is associated with greed, famine, starvation and winter. Although the Wendigo is much larger than man it’s usually very thin and emaciated due to an increase in size after every meal. The wendigo is never full because it grows in proportion to each meal it eats.
A human Wendigo can occur when a man is overcome with greed, or resorts to cannibalism.

The book to read: The Wendigo by Algernon Blackwood. Listen to the story here :
Movies to watch: Ravenous (1999), and Wendigo (2001)

#2 The Blair witch

We’ve all seen the movie The Blair Witch Project or at least heard of it, but where did the story originate from? The directors based the film on the case of Elly Kedward an Irish settler.
In 1785 in the town of Blair located in Maryland several children came forward accusing Kedward of luring them into her home and taking their blood. The townspeople found her guilty of witchcraft and banished her to the forest. They left her in the woods bound to a cart during a particularly harsh and cold winter. As the time passed and no more was heard or seen from her, she was presumed dead.
In the middle of winter in 1786 everyone involved with Kedward’s death disappeared along with half the towns children. The remaining residents flee believing Blair is cursed. In 1824 Burkittsville is built over the corpse of Blair.
In 1825 11 witnesses come forward to testify that a ghost like hand reached up and dragged a 10-year-old girl into the Tappy East Creek. Bizarre greasy bundles of sticks are said to have clogged the creek for 13 days after the drowning and the girl’s body was never found.
In 1886 an 8-year-old girl goes missing in the forest, several rescue teams are dispatched to find the missing girl who eventually returns on her own. One of the search parties doesn’t return and are discovered at Coffin Rock weeks later. The five men are found tied together hand to foot and disemboweled in an advanced stage of decay. When a recovery team returns to the rock hours later the bodies are missing.
From 1940-1941 8 children go missing. A local hermit Rustin Parr enters the market shouting “I’ve finally finished”. Local authorities discover 7 of the 8 bodies behind Parr’s home buried in shallow graves. The 8th victim was still alive and found in the basement standing in the corner. Parr claimed to have heard an old woman’s voice ordering him to kill the children. Parr was tried and hung for his crimes.
In 1999 The Blair Witch project is released, people believe that it’s real. The movie makes millions and paves the way for every dickhead with a handheld camera to make a shaky, poorly edited movie.

Books to read: The Blair Witch Files – various authors (read all 8, they’re each an independent story) buy them here:

Movies to watch: The Blair Witch Project, Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2, Blair Witch (2016)

#3 Ogopogo
The Ogopogo or Naitaka is a large serpent like lake monster found in the Okanagan lake in British Columbia. The Ogopogo is reportedly 40-50 long and resembles the Basilosaurus dinosaur. It’s Green in color with a reptilian or horse shaped head (depending who you ask). It was First seen by Canada’s first nations people as far back as the 19th century. The first Nations called the creature Naitaka and believed it was a bloodthirsty killer demanding a live sacrifice from travelers in exchange for safe passage. Hundreds of years ago before entering, the natives would drop chickens and other small animals into the lake to appease the giant water spirit.
In 1946 a group of 30 car loads of people all claimed to have spotted Ogopogo although no proof was presented. All videos and sightings have been labelled inconclusive.
The creature has never been reported to have hurt anyone and is mostly happy to do its own thing, it may even possibly be a bottom feeder living off plankton and small fish.
I’ve spent many summers on the lake trying to catch a glimpse myself, but sadly never saw the creature.

Books to read: In Search of Ogopogo: Sacred Creature of the Okanagan Waters by Arlene B. Gaal. Buy it here:

Movies to watch: Mee-Shee: The Water Giant (renamed due to aboriginal protest)

#4 Chupacabra
The Chupacabra was originally discovered in Puerto Rico, but now has many sightings in North America mainly in Mexico and some of the Southern states. Chupacabra literally translates to Goat-sucker and is associated with killing livestock. It kills by draining the animals blood and sometimes removing their organs through three holes in the chest. Its kills are purely vampiric as the flesh is not consumed only the blood.
The Chupacabra is described as a large animal (the size of a small bear) with spines from its neck to the bottom of its tail. Alternatively, it’s described as dog-like in nature with little to no fur. It has large fangs and claws and very pronounced eye sockets.
All reports and sightings have been deemed inconclusive by leading cryptozoologists.
Books to read: Tracking the Chupacabra by Benjamin Radford buy it here:,
Movies to watch: Indigenous (2014), Chupacabra Territory (2016)

#5 The Jersey Devil or Leeds Devil
The Jersey Devil is native to New Jersey USA and was originally called the Leeds Devil. The creature is said to live in the pine barrens of Southern New Jersey. Its description varies, most commonly its described as a flying biped with hooves, a goat head, bat-like wings, horns, small arms and clawed hands. The Jersey Devil has a high-pitched banshee scream that can be heard at a distance.
The legend begins in 1735 with the Leeds family. A mother of 12 becomes pregnant with her 13th child and in her exhaustion and desperation curses the child in her womb. When the child is born it turns into a monster, growling and snapping, it kills the midwife before flying up the chimney and heading into the pines. Some variations of the tale suggest the mother was a witch and the father was the devil himself.
There are many reported sightings of the beast, but skeptics believe that it was a boogeyman invented by bored English settlers. There was also a general disdain for the Leeds family which could have spawned the unfavorable rumors.

Books to read: The Jersey Devil by Hunter Shea, buy it here:

Phantom of the Pines: More Tales of the Jersey Devil by James F. McCloy 
Movies to watch: The Barrens (2012), The Last Broadcast (1998)

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about these fantastic creatures of legend as much as I did, keep a look out for my follow up on the Local Legends of Europe.