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Even More Cryptids!

Hello everyone, and welcome to LukeLore. A quick deep dive into a folklore topic, where I share some of the stories from around the world that have piqued my interest. I’ve been Up To Some Things in the creative writing side of my life, some of which is Cryptid adjacent. This is not something I’m quite ready to go into detail about just yet, but will hopefully lead to some fun news soon. Since the subject is pretty heavily on my mind right now, I thought another Cryptids episode would be fun. Hopefully productive for me, too, as I’m pretty behind on my personal projects after getting so ill earlier in the year! So this is a bonus shove in the right direction for my mind while we’re on the topic, as well as being a showcase of some weirder stories too. SECTION BREAK – My Nemesis, the Frog This one is a little personal, in an incredibly tangential way. Occasional Cryptid line ups pop up online, fun illustrations. If I remember right, this was a t-shirt design with cute cartoon versions of nine monsters in a grid, and someone on Facebook asked me to name them all. There was a single one I could not get, and it was the Loveland Frog. I was defeated! I swore vengeance upon the frog creature, mostly for comedic effect, but also because I was a little miffed to be shown up by a cute t-shirt. So I’m taking the opportunity to educate myself, rather than book a flight to Ohio and try to track down this cryptid for single combat to redeem myself as a folklorist. The Loveland Frogman has a strange origin, even for a cryptid. The 1950s story went that a travelling salesman was leaving the Branch Hill neighbourhood as the sun was going down and spotted something alarming around a dimly lit bridge. Three short figures, none of which over four feet tall, stood glaring at him. Each naked with leathery skin and froglike faces, one lifted a wand over its head to fire streams of sparks at the witness, who fled for his life. So the original story goes that there was a cadre of frog wizards who flexed on unwitting humans that come around their bridge. That’s… certainly something. It likely would have faded into history as a fun anecdote about being overworked on the road leading to hallucinations, but the story got a revival in the 1970s that managed to stick, leading to sightings even into the modern day. The 70s reports getting a little more validity this time, by merit of being official police reports. This particular tale gets a lot more specificity thanks to it having an official write up. March the 3rd 1972, 1am. Ray Shockey of Loveland PD was driving along the Little Miami River not far from the Totes boot factory. Officer Shockey is startled to a halt as a diminutive figure rushes across the road right in front of him. In the report this figure is described as an animal on its hind legs standing roughly three to four feet tall, estimated at being 50 to 75 pounds. While fully lit by headlights, the officer only saw this strange creature from behind. He described it as having leathery skin, and in the report states that it crouched like a frog before standing up to its full height so it could climb over the guardrail at the side of the road allowing it to continue down to the river. In theory this was resolved two weeks later when a second member of Loveland PD, Mark Matthews, claims to have encountered the creature. Officer Matthews was in the area of the first report when he spotted an unidentified animal crouched along the roadside. This led to the officer pulling over, shooting the unidentified animal, then taking it in the patrol car’s boot to see if this was the same mystery creature from a fortnight ago. When shown the corpse Officer Shockey agreed that this must have been what he saw, and Officer Matthews in accounts over the year’s claims it was simply a large iguana that was missing its tail. Now, if this should be true, that the Loveland Frogman is a tailless iguana that stands 4 feet tall on its hind legs and can resurrect from being shot dead given that the sightings continued at intervals for decades afterwards; still a pretty good Cryptid! The alternative name Loveland Lizard will need swapping into common usage if that can be confirmed, though. If this was just a normal escaped pet iguana who got confused for the Frogman, it gets a fair bit sadder as the Loveland PD has a shoot first Cryptids policy that may have killed an escaped pet. Any which way you cut the tale, however, Loveland Ohio enjoys solid decades of sightings that are ongoing. It’s strange even by the frequent low bar of Cryptozoloogy in that we could be looking at a society of amphibious wizards, an immortal iguana, or else simply a chill frog dude no one quite understands. But there’s at least one strange creature out and about in Loveland for the inquisitive or unwary to blunder into. My curiosity is now satisfied, and I no longer have the urge to fly over there trying to pick a fight with the Cryptid that publicly bamboozled me. SECTION BREAK – Back From Extinction With The Meg 2 in cinemas, I thought I would dust off an area of Cryptozoology that it crosses over with: the idea that a long thought dead creature from the fossil records may still be alive in small numbers. Technically the Loch Ness Monster may be one of these, some regular speculation is that of Nessie being a Plesiosaur. A creature known to have existed at one time that fits the profile of some depictions, that then spirals into its own self-sustaining feedback loop as depictions of Nessie as a prehistoric creature become proof there must be a prehistoric creature that is therefore the Loch Ness Monster. Although I don’t mind a fish eating Plesiosaur so much. Potential Megalodon sightings, however, are Thalassophobic nightmare fuel. The stories are simple enough, given how terrifying they are. “We saw a big shark. No, bigger than that. A LOT bigger. No, we didn’t stop to take pictures, we got the hell out of there.” This then spirals in several ways. Tabloid newspapers love these sightings, and love spreading potential photographs even more. Where there’s one sighting, more will follow. Hopefully being a mix of group hysteria combined with people not wanting to feel left out of the fun, hopefully NOT being tourists hanging around the hunting ground of a 50 foot long shark that could chomp down a Killer Whale in five bites. What’s unnervingly compelling about the idea of some Megalodon hanging around is twofold. First of all, sharks already are living fossils. Any sharks at all existing are proof that a prehistoric shark could be around by merit of the fact THEY ARE prehistoric sharks still hanging around. They’re bloody great murderfish that didn’t need to evolve, all time apex predators have nothing left to prove. Combine that with how immense and unexplored the ocean is, something I keep warning everyone about, and the giant sized version could just be puttering about the deeper places as yet undocumented – Eating the other terrifying oceanic giant monsters the sensible should be committed to avoiding. As a pleasant subversion to good news/bad news I have two debunked reports of Megalodon sightings which seemed credible until one of the scientists involved calmed down enough to look twice. So oops-a-Meg bad news, followed by the happy relief it turned out not to be one. In May 2021 a video went viral of what appeared to show a giant shark next to a ship to show off how big it was. Giant shark being bad, because it is the toothy dustbin of the seas, only bigger. As it did the rounds on TikTok people in the comments would be joking, or panicking, that it may be a Megalodon. Experts came out to say it couldn’t be a Megalodon, and it was instead identified as only being an incredibly oversized Basking Shark. …Okay, you know what? That isn’t actually good news. That it’s only a different shark grown massive is still pretty worrying. Okay, on to the second debunk! This was in September 2022, and members of the Atlantic Shark Institute were out in the Atlantic looking for sharks, because some people decided upon being that little bit extra when they picked a hobby. As they go shark hunting, presumably because they built up to this peak and nothing else makes them feel alive any more, they spot something immense. A giant figure on their instruments that wasn’t a whale, it was a really big fish. Given what kind of fish this society is all about? They presume a shark, and for some reason spend the next few minutes getting closer to it to confirm if this is indeed a 70 ton turbo shark emerging from the depths. To what I presume was their disappointment, as it meant no titanic shark based Valhalla for the thrill seekers, they became pretty sure that the equipment was instead picking up a massive shoal of Atlantic mackerel only swimming in the shape of a single huge fish. To be fair? Genius plan to stay safe by the mackerel, there. The problem then, is… What if the debunking is just denial grasping at straws? Ha ha, yeah, it’s just a lot of fish swimming in the shape of a Megalodon. Because there can’t be a real live Megalodon. That’s too terrifying to be true! I shall continue my endeavour to stay out of the oceans and not risk confirming Megalodons to still be out there by being devoured by one, thanks. At the very least staying out of the deeper bits a giant shark may be lurking, you maaaay just get me in a shallow pool. Maybe. SECTION BREAK – Maryland’s Dragon Some Cryptids have simplicity going for them. No dark origins like the Jersey Devil, no prehistoric creatures they could have been, and as with the strange case of the Loveland Frogman no magic wands. In the 1700s German immigrants to Maryland had a bit of a “Well, crap” moment as something began dive bombing down out of the sky frightening their children and swooping off with their chickens. It was some sort of flying lizard, in some accounts a feathered chimera and in others just plain written up as a dragon of some description. The local immigrants called it the “Schneller Geist”, or quick spirit. The English speaking immigrants asking about it later who yelled at them loud and slow, because speaking anything but English was considered by them to just be rude, bastardised that name into Snallygaster. For a pretty damn good run of two centuries the Snallygaster was just taken as a fact, with reports all over Maryland and even drifting over into the Washington DC Metro area. It didn’t seem to kill people, preferring poultry, but it did manage to bother a lot of would be settlers. Understandably so as it was consistently reported to have a massive wingspan, hooked talons, and a pointed bill. I don’t expect an airborne reptile rocketing down out of nowhere, reported as “screeching like a locomotive whistle”, to deprive you of your current eggs and future nuggets went down too well on the frontier. At times there are more extreme tales. Of it potentially even being part octopus with a single cyclopean eye, carrying away people to drain them of their blood… But that appears to have been part of a very bizarre attempt to frighten freed slaves. Not cool, 19th Century Maryland! President Roosevelt was reported to have given up a safari trip one year to go Snallygaster hunting instead, local newspapers kept regular track of sightings, and the Smithsonian Institute had a bounty out for the hide of the creature. In the early 1900s, the Snallygaster supposedly met its end, kind of proving it to be a singular creature due to its removal (or else this is the story of the last Snallygaster coming to a bad end). The legend goes that the Snallygaster was grounded at, or else lured into, a whiskey distillery. Maybe it was attracted to the fiery alcohol? However the mob chasing it got the flying lizard into the distillery, the stories all agree on the two-step process that followed. The Snallygaster was shoved into a whiskey barrel to drown it, and the whole distillery was blown up for good measure to make sure they really got the creature! I supposed it bursting out of the barrel in a now drunken rage probably wasn’t an outcome worth risking… There were supposed sightings reported in newspapers after this fiery conclusion, but they were admitted to be total fabrications without even a sketchy eyewitness report to back them up – the reporters admitting to doing it to drum up sales. The legacy of this strange creature continues to live on without reliable recent sightings, however. To this day, barns across Maryland can be seen with hex stars painted on them to ward off the Snallygaster. These seven pointed stars were believed to deter the creature, heptagrams in general being a common symbol across history for warding away evil. Situated in the delightfully named Libertytown is The American Snallygaster Museum were all this history can be experienced, and likely in honour of how Maryland’s dragon met its end there’s a Snallygaster whiskey exported from the State. The Cryptid getting to live on in spirit in more than one way! SECTION BREAK – A Werewolf in Wisconsin I’m pushing “Cryptid” a little far with this one, given how it basically just seems to be a werewolf, but it being a 20th century sighting I’ll give it a little wriggle room to get into the episode. Plus, it’s a pretty awesome story. The first sighting was, in fact, two sightings across a couple of nights in 1936. Mark Shackleman was a nightwatchman working at the St. Coletta School for Exceptional Children, an institute near Milwaukee that had some Native American burial mounds on the school grounds. Patrolling outside one night, Shackleman saw a strange shadow he assumed must have been a dog digging into one of these mounds. So he heads over to it, shining his flashlight ahead of him expecting to chase the dog off, only to see the hulking great figure stand up from all fours revealing a seven foot or so monstrosity covered in fur with the head of a wolf. Shackleman admitted to standing frozen in fear as the creature growled and the wind carried the stench of rotted meat to the nightwatchman, only for the figure to suddenly turn and walk off. Clearly made of sterner stuff than most, Shackleman not only finished that shift he went back to work the next night too, seeing the same figure digging into the same mound that second night. Whether brave, stupid, drunk, or all of the above the nightwatchman approached it seeing the creature stand tall once again – a mix of gigantic muscled man and hairy canine or lupine features. It seemed to try to speak in a mixture of growls and snarls, before stalking off again when Schackleman didn’t understand it. This is the Beast of Bray Road. Sightings of the Beast were intermittent across the decades, with something of a resurgence in the 1980s and 90s. In general, witnesses don’t tend to get away as peacefully as Shackleman did, but this may be because that guy clearly had giant brass balls the Beast didn’t want to risk tangling with. Who the hell stares down a werewolf two consecutive nights and doesn’t even bother going to get a gun to do it with? Anyway, Schackleman appreciation moment over, let’s skip to closer to the modern day. There are plenty of animal mutilations centred around Elkhorn, the traditional stomping ground of The Beast of Bray Road. One woman filed a report that the creature tried to break into her home, thankfully not managing to do so, injuring one of her horses as it gave up and left. She claimed the footprints left by the Beast were over a foot long, and the slash on her horse’s back was also physical evidence of the attack. Some people claim to have been chased through the woods by the Beast, drivers have seen it lurking by roads either watching cars pass by or at times eating crouched on the roadside. Interestingly, sightings can happen night or day. The Beast doesn’t seem to have any road sense, which by all reports is far worse for drivers than it is the hulking monstrosity. In 1999 an 18 year old girl was driving down Bray Road itself in pouring rain when she says a right tire hit something hard enough to lift her car off the ground. She stopped and got out to see what she hit, when she saw the massive part wolf part man form of the Beast standing glaring at her – and it was NOT happy. She dived back into her car in a panic as it charged, its claws tearing a chunk out of her rear passenger door before it climbed up on to the back of the car. As she sped away, it slipped off having found no purchase on the rain slick car, and she got away with only some repairs to a door needed. So many sightings eventually led to reporter Linda Godfrey being sent out to gather as many eyewitness testimonies as possible. While at first sceptical, she soon came to believe that the people did at least encounter something, even if she herself didn’t believe it was an actual werewolf of myth. People may have been encountering different things, all while primed to see The Beast. Wolves caught in brief glimpses, some phantoms or hallucinations of some description, hoaxes carried out by bored locals taken at face value by the victims of the pranks, and there’s even a chance that a bear suffering from mange may have lead to some encounters. In 2003 Godfrey went on to write ‘The Beast of Bray Road: Tailing Wisconsin’s Werewolf’, which I’m feeling like adding to my reading list for even more details from the area. Something big was encountered at intervals on Bray Road, and it may well have been a Beast of legend haunting the area since the 1930s… Or it may “only” be an angry diseased bear that attacks cars. Either way, careful on Bray Road. Eaten alive is eaten alive, whatever does it. SECTION BREAK This was a fun one for me! I do love me some Cryptids, and there’s plenty out there to discover yet. I hope you enjoyed revisiting them too, feel free to send me leads to some good ones I haven’t covered yet. It’s definitely a subject I want to make regular dips into. Well, fun except for the Megalodon sightings. Everyone stay out of the corpse soup that envelops the world! I keep warning you all: it’s deep, mysterious, and full of unknown Somethings. LukeLore is a Ghost Story Guys production.

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