Where the Wild Things Are

Just like flags and flowers and birds (California: the bear flag,—not the official name—the California Poppy, the California Quail) each of our united states claims a mythical being. Most are alluded to through legend and many sightings have been reported. However, none have been definitively explained, identified or captured or even photographed except for, at best, as blurry apparitions. Possibly the most famous of these mystery creatures is Washington state’s Sasquatch, aka Big Foot and Wild Man, described as a large hairy ape like creature who walks upright on two legs. You may have caught a Sasquatch imitator featured in a movie or television shows.

Many other mystery creatures have also achieved celebrity status. West Virginia’s Mothman, a tall, dark winged man-like figure with notable glowing red eyes who allegedly terrorized the area of Point Pleasant and surroundings in the 1960s, has a statue, museum and festival devoted to him. Cousins of the equally famous serpent like creature, the Loch Ness Monster, Nessie, of the Scottish Highlands, are said to populate lakes around our country. Champ or Champy settled into Lake Champlain, New York, and Chessie chose Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay. Closer to home, California and Nevada share Lake Tahoe’s Tessie.

The word is that Tessie lurks at the bottom of the lake’s 900 foot deep waters amidst bodies dumped by Mafia Mob executioners in the 1920s maybe up to the 1950s. Even closer to home, though not California’s state creature, is Hodgee or Hodgie, at home in Lake Hodges. Hodgee’s likeness was carved by local artists from the base of a tree in Del Dios whose upper portion had to be removed—the opposite of the myth of Daphne’s turning into a laurel tree to escape Apollo’s overtures. Oregon’s mystery water monster, Colossal Claude, prefers the ocean.

Hodgie at Lake Hodges. Photo by Jeff Barnouw.

Lesser known but similarly fascinating are the names and legends of creatures that roam various territories across our nation. In Wisconsin, a dark, hairy, muscular werewolf-like creature whose eyes glow yellow is known as the Beast of Bray Road and seems to stick to stalking that very road. Other states all have their specific mysteries. Vermont has the Northfield Pigman, New Jersey the Jersey Devil, Pennsylvania the Squonk, Kansas has Sink Hole Sam. Alaska’s is the Tizhurek, South Carolina’s the Lizard Man of Scape Ore Swamp, Louisiana has the Rougarou, to name a few.

Whether the mystery creatures are from Native American legends, encounters, or hallucinations, our best bet for a possible sighting along with at least the carved likeness of the Hodgee may be that the Sasquatch comes south and/or Tessie tries ocean surfing.