Exploring American Monsters: Connecticut
One of the first thirteen British colonies in North America, Connecticut revels in American patriotism, demonstrated by its nickname the “Constitution State.” Heck, its state song is “Yankee Doodle.” Although it’s the third smallest of the United States by area (110 miles long and 70 miles wide), it’s the fourth most densely populated, and, with 1.9 million acres of forestland, Connecticut can still hide plenty of monsters. Like this doggie:
The Black Dog of Hanging Hills
Just north of the downtown of Meriden in southern Connecticut are the Hanging Hills, which run through Hubbard Park, a 1,800-acre mountainous area on the National Register of Historic Places. Covered in a forest broken by cliffs, and rocky outcroppings, this land is the romping place of the Black Dog.
The first reported sighting of the Black Dog by someone other than a local, was in the late 1890s when a geologist visited the Hanging Hills, and discovered a medium sized black dog followed him. The dog remained with the geologist the entire day, neither barking, nor whining, and when the scientist started to leave, the dog, which he was happy to have along on his day of hiking, vanished.
Locals, he later discovered, knew of the Black Dog, and although its first and second visits were pleasant, the third sighting of the dog was anything but.
On a second trip three years later, the geologist saw the dog again. A companion, however, had been to the area before, and for him this was the third. Legend has it the third time seeing the Black Dog means a death knell. The geologist’s companion soon after fell off a cliff to his death.
Something terrifying with a taste for human flesh lurks in backwater areas across Connecticut, something small – the Melon Heads. These small humans with huge heads, bulging eyes, and wiry limbs lurk in the woods, and prey upon passersby. Claimed to be everything from incestuous backwoods rednecks to descendants of colonial witches, the Melon Heads live in the forest, and bite people who dare tread on their territory.
In Fairfield County, Connecticut, the Melon Heads are supposedly inbreed cannibal offspring from around 20 insane asylum patients that escaped when a fire destroyed the asylum, and killed the administration, staff, and most of the patients, according to a story in the Torrington, Connecticut, Register-Citizen.
Although more of an urban legend than actual monsters, the Melon Heads cause travelers on the lonely, tree-covered country roads in rural Connecticut drive just a little bit faster.
Reports of sea monsters off the coast of Connecticut have existed since the early European colonization of New England. Most sightings were of long, snake-like creatures, some with bodies “as wide as a horse,” with a “big black head as large as a flour barrel, and with eyes as big as small plates.” The serpents were said to be forty to 100 feet long. One sighting reported in a 1881 article in The New York Times a huge serpent, green with black spots, swam by a yacht out for a pleasure cruise, scaring the bejesus out of the those on the boat.
But serpents aren’t the only monsters seen off the Connecticut coast. In 1895, Captain Obadiah Donaldson wrote that his ship collided with an octopus just off the coast – an octopus more than sixty feet wide with arms stretching at least 100 feet, according to the 17 July 1895 Chicago Tribune. Like a scene from Jules Verne’s “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,” the monster wrapped one of its tentacles around the ship and began to drag it down, under the sea. A sailor named Frank Taylor chopped through the monster’s arm with a meat cleaver, and the beast sank beneath the waves once more.
During the unusually cold winter month of January 1939, the residents of Glastonbury, Connecticut, had something to worry about besides the snow – the Glastonbury Glawackus. This howling beast terrorized the night that winter. A furry monster the size of a large black dog with the face of a cat, slaughtered small dogs, goats and sheep, according to a story in The Hartford Courant.
Hunters combed the forests and hills with dogs; the dogs occasionally chased something unseen through the brush, but the Glawackus remained elusive. Some claimed it was a mountain lion escaped from a zoo, or a Canada lynx in the area, but a hunter from Hartford, William F. Bonvouloir, encountered the beast. He saw a “beautiful black creature about three feet long with a tail two feet long leap out of the scrubwood,” according to the Courant. He shot at it twice with a 12-guage shotgun, but missed both times.
As evidence of a monster near Glastonbury dwindled by that next July, hunters killed a big, brown wild dog, and claimed the end of the Glawackus, although many residents of Glastonbury had their doubts.
Next up: Delaware.