Monsters, Myths and Legends, Maryland-Style: What's Yours?
For such a small state, Maryland delivers big on folklore. Maybe it's the fact that it's so old (one of the thirteen original colonies, in fact). Wars have been fought here, history has been made and people from all over have settled in the state, bringing their own stories with them. Mix it all together, and you have a state that's ripe with tall tales and spooky stories.
Take Chessie, the supposed sea monster that dwells in the Chesapeake Bay. The bay's certainly big enough to hide a slippery rascal like Chessie, and he's been seen a few times since the 40's. Usually, Chessie is described as a huge aquatic snake, though he might need to go on a diet, since a manatee who strayed unusually far north was once mistaken for Chessie. It sounds like Chessie might not be anything more than a fun story told by those who live by the bay, but the Smithsonian held a mini-symposium on the topic of the beast--so whatever it is, people take it seriously!
Photo via the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
(Chessie gets pretty good gigs for a monster that may not even exist, huh?)
Then there's the 'demon truck' that supposedly chases drivers unwary enough to be on the seven hills of Ellicott CIty at midnight. Ellicott City is already pretty well-known for being a spooky hotspot, but I've been on the hilly roads outside of town during the day, and it's scary enough without the threat of being run down by a ghostly truck. Is it just an urban legend, told and retold by kids who want to dare each other into driving the hills to prove their bravery? Or is something paranormal going on?
Let's move onto another monster--a mysterious man-goat called (rather obviously) the Maryland Goatman. He's half man, half goat, and supposedly calls Beltsville home. His origin stories vary. I'd recommend this Modern Farmer article for the title alone, but the gist of it is that a researcher at the nearby Agricultural Research Center was experimenting on goats, and somehow got Spidermanned into a goat creature (perhaps a bite from a radioactive goat?). Now he wanders around, sometimes with an axe, looking for victims.
Photo via rabblerabblerouser
(This, sadly, is not a photo of the Goatman. But maybe the Goatman would be more beloved if he were as cute as a baby goat.)
One of the best-known legends out of Maryland is a completely fabricated one--the Blair Witch. Spoiler alert from the late 90's, guys. The Blair Witch doesn't exist, and isn't even a real legend. The forest scenes weren't even shot outside of Burkittsville, but outside of Gaithersburg instead. All three of the kids in the movie are alive and well, and you can look them up on IMDB.
Photo via blairwitch.com
(You are not missing, guys. You are fine, and you have done interviews. Don't scare us like that.)
If you want a true Maryland witch story, you'll have to go to Leonardtown, where a woman named Moll Dyer lived in the 17th century. Accused of witchcraft, Dyer was chased from her home by angry townsfolk, and was driven out into the bitter cold. Her body was found frozen to a large rock--and her curse supposedly still exists to this day. This was a period of time when people really were put to death for being witches, and there's historical evidence proving it happened in Maryland.
Here's the thing. As much as I'd like to be, I can't be from everywhere in Maryland at once. I don't know all the juicy secrets in all the cities and counties, and though I've done research on these things, it's better to hear it from people who grew up with these stories. So comment with your local Maryland legends and stories. Is there a great urban legend in your town? Was someone burned as a witch or abducted by aliens? Is there a weird spot or a monster lurking around? Let me know, and I'll include the best ones in a follow-up story. All I ask is that you hold off on ghost stories if you can--I'm saving that for October. Let's get weird, Route One readers!
This post was written by Route One Apparel blogger, Eva Niessner.