Welcome back readers to the halfway mark in our wild and weird travelogue digging into the creepiest urban legend from each state in the U.S. From creepy cryptids to haunted houses, this series has them all. Settle in, and take a look at what this week’s selection of states has to offer!
Massachusetts: The Bridgewater Triangle
The Bridgewater Triangle in southeastern Massachusetts is a hotbed of paranormal activity if you listen to local storytellers.
The area, at least part of which was reportedly cursed after indigenous tribes were pushed out of their lands by colonial “settlers,” boasts numerous sightings of everything from shining orbs that resemble balls of fire, giant snakes, Bigfoot-like creatures, and Thunderbirds–giant, sometimes prehistoric-looking birds that are a commonality in Native American tribal traditions and lore across the country.
Furthermore, in 1998, the area saw a rash of animal mutilations which led to a rash of stories about cult activity in the area.
It is one thing when an urban legend, or a set of them, are based on events that occurred in the last fifty years, but it is something entirely different when, as in the case of The Bridgewater Triangle, those stories have endured for over three centuries. It’s certainly something to keep in mind should you decide to go for a hike there.
Before we get into this particular legend, we should clarify that the Dogman of Michigan is not Bigfoot, nor is it a werewolf, and his origins are…cloudy at best.
The Dogman–with the body of a man and the head of dog–has several origin stories, but none seem to capture the idea of a urban legend better than that of Steve Cook, a radio DJ who claimed to have made up the creature in 1987 when he wrote a song called “The Legend.” What was supposed to be an April Fool’s Day joke took on a life of its own and Cook started receiving phone calls from listeners claiming to have seen the Dogman.
The truth is there were reports of a Dogman as far back as the early 1800s from French fur traders and Cook’s song only leant credence to what was already there. Further, Cook’s song hinted that the Dogman appeared every ten years so when an unusual animal attack occurred in 1997, the tale gained even more momentum.
Regardless of its origins, the creepy cryptid urban legend is one for the books, as they say, and I have to wonder, have any of my readers from Michigan seen the Dogman?!
Oh, and if you’re curious about that song…
Minnesota: Grey Cloud Island
Taking up a total of three square miles wedged between the Mississippi River and two small lakes, Grey Cloud Island may not be much to look at on paper, but it is rife with local lore that will keep you up at night.
It is reportedly home to numerous Native American burial mounds, but that’s only the beginning of the stories and legends surrounding the plot of land. Local police are fully aware of the location’s reputation, and will allegedly do whatever it takes to keep thrill-seekers and investigators at bay. Furthermore, there are no hiking trails, no camping areas, nothing that would make the island hospitable to tourists.
On the surface, that might not be such a big deal. It’s a small island with a quiet population of around 300. They like their way of life and don’t want it disturbed. What they don’t understand, however, is that their hostility toward outsiders and tourists only makes people more curious about the island. (I’m not saying they’re wrong to protect their privacy, mind you. I just think no one ever explained to them that a box with a lid on it is much more intriguing than one that’s open for everyone to see.)
But what phenomena is attached to the island? Well, there have been numerous reports of a phantom white pickup truck that randomly follows people on the island only to mysteriously vanish. Then there are those who say they’ve seen a man in a flannel shirt with a rifle who also mysteriously disappears as well as the appearance of a translucent spirit in full Native American dress who appears and disappears at random.
Then there are the stories about the little cemetery on the island which, among others, is reportedly the final burial place of a powerful witch.
Honestly, Grey Cloud Island could take up several articles all on its own, but with its shroud of mystery and local legends, it earned its spot on this list. For more on this particular location, you can read Andrew Stark’s excellent article about his own trip to Grey Cloud Island by CLICKING HERE.
Mississippi: The Mercritis Outbreak
Okay, I know what you’re thinking. What is Mercritis?!
Well, that’s an interesting story. Mercritis, it seems, was a strange malady that was supposedly at the center of an outbreak in Mississippi in the 1950s. The disease was a strange one. It seemed that it caused men to secrete a chemical that drove women into a state of homicidal frenzy…
No, I’m not kidding.
The urban legend, for indeed no one in the medical community has ever heard of Mecritis, began with stories of an outbreak in Europe where a man there, after consuming mass quantities of lead, was allegedly chased into a freezing river by a group of local women who were suddenly enraged in his presence. Moreover, the women followed the man into the river and all of them drowned in the icy waters.
How that disease made its way to a small, unnamed town in Mississippi is not clear. Nevertheless, it was reported that after several men in the town had consumed massive quantities of lead–were they just drinking paint out of cans?!–the local women fell into a vicious rage that caused them to track down every single man they could lay hands on in an attempt to kill him.
Of course, no one can confirm this because the medical community covered it all up when it was discovered they couldn’t find a cure and could only warn men not to consume lead in order to prevent the disease from rearing its ugly head again. It’s certainly the most interesting warning against drinking lead paint I’ve ever heard.
I just…I really have nothing more to add to that. That’s the legend. Take from it what you will.
Missouri: Zombie Road
Actually known as Lawler Ford Road, Zombie Road is located just outside of St. Louis, Missouri, and it has quite the reputation!
It earned its name back in the 1950s when stories began to emerge about a “zombie killer”–that is a killer who is a zombie, not a man who kills zombies–who would stalk along the road looking for victims to drag out to his lonely shack in the woods. He was especially known to attack young lovers looking for a quiet place to park and get to know each other, hence taking on the mantle of the archetypal legend to warn teenagers of the dangers of premarital sex.
However, the stories don’t stop there.
The road is also reportedly known as the stomping grounds for a man who was killed after being hit by a train. The man haunts the area to this day, frightening those who walk or ride their bicycles along the road by mysteriously appearing and disappearing as they pass by.
Zombie Road is also home to the largest indigenous burial mound in the area which brings with it a whole cadre of stories, and the area was once used by the army during the Civil War.
The road is now impassable by car, but it is a popular hiking spot for those looking for the quiet of nature as well as those who come seeking ghosts. Tourists beware, however. You’re likely to find yourself face to face with more than Confederate spirits after dark. The trail is curfewed and using it when the sun goes down will earn you a fine.