It seems that every state in the Union has its share of strange mysteries and unexplained phenomena. Indeed, no matter where one goes in the world there are bound to be regional legends and enigmas that defy rational explanation. One place that seems to have a wealth of strange reports is the U.S. state of Pennsylvania, and although it already has a good amount of Bigfoot reports here we are set to look at something altogether more bizarre.
The rivers of Pennsylvania have long had their fair share of mysterious creatures, in particular the Monongahela, which flows for 130 miles from Pittsburgh where it then joins the Allegheny to go on to form the Ohio River, stretching down to the north-central part of West Virginia. Natives of the area have since time unremembered had stories of something fierce and monstrous lurking in these waters, creatures which they called the Ogua. Descriptions of this beast vary, with some saying it is rather like an enormous turtle measuring around 20 feet in diameter, while others say it is more like a giant alligator or serpent, and some have even said that it has two heads, but all accounts share one thing in common, and that is that the thing is highly predatory.
The lore has it that the Ogua would creep forward from an underwater cavern lair to lurk near shore and lie in wait for an unsuspecting animal or even a person, after which it would lurch forward to drag its prey into the water and swallow it whole with its enormous mouth, sometimes using its powerful tail to lash out and stun the victim. At night it was said that the creature would heave itself up onto shore and wallow about in the mud or go off hunting for more meat. It was apparently often seen to snatch deer from the shore, with deer said to be its favorite food, although there are plenty of stories of these things taking pretty much whatever is unfortunate enough to get near them. In the book Wild & Wonderful (and Paranormal) West Virginia, by Denver Michaels, there is an account written of by a witness in the 1700s, which reads:
There is an animal in this country which excites the imagination of all who have had the opportunity to view it; being amphibious it resides in the water during the daytime, but at night repairs to the land in quest of its prey; which are deer. They lie in the deer paths undiscovered, behind an old stump, until the deer, unaware of its enemy, passes over him; this creature immediately seizes him, and entangling him in its tail, which is 15 feet in length, and not withstanding all the deer’s exertions to free itself, draws him in the water, where he drowns and devours him.
Some of our men lately discovered one of the formidable creatures early in the morning with its prey, of which they informed some of the company who were nigh; they soon came up with him and killed the giant beast with clubs. The monster weighed 444 pounds. They lurk in deep underwater caves with no bottom and their head resembles a giant turtle. Woe to any man who chances upon one of these formidable predators unarmed. The Indians call them Oguas.
Sightings of these beasts have continued all the way up into modern times, with two notable sightings occurring in 1983. One was from a fisherman who claimed to have seen a reddish brown creature with “razor-sharp teeth and a long, flat tail that whipped the water into foam,” and another was from a fisherman named John Edward White, who in the summer of that year had a rather bizarre encounter while fishing for catfish on the river. Things began to get strange when there were inexplicable ripples on the water surface, followed by the sight on countless small fish leaping from the water in an effort to get away from something down below. As the startled fisherman looked on in confusion an enormous fin then burst forth from the water, followed by a long tail that swept across the surface to thrash at the water before disappearing back down into the depths.
Although sightings today of the Ogua remain rare, the legends still continue, and we are left to wonder what this could possibly be. It has been theorized that this is just pure folklore and an urban legend, a story told to frighten children in the old days to keep them from straying to far and trying to go into the river. There is also the possibility that these creatures could be particularly large snapping turtles, some oversized catfish, or an out of place intruder such as a crocodile. It is hard to say for sure.
Interestingly, in the Monongahela River there is said to lurk a half-man, half-fish monstrosity called “Monongy,” which was apparently sighted quite frequently by British forces during the French and Indian War (1754-1763), even attacking them, and has been allegedly seen in the river all the way up into present day. A particularly intense wave of sightings of these “gill-men” occurred throughout the 1930s all the way up to the 1950s, during which sightings were so common that the Pittsburg Police actually launched an intensive investigation into the phenomenon, with a whole task force devoted to dealing with the deluge of sightings. As recently as 2003 there was supposedly a sighing of one of the creatures and photos taken, which were later mysteriously removed form online, sparking talk of a cover-up.
Adding to giant river monsters and fish-men are various enormous snakes that have allegedly been seen in the wilds of various areas across south central Pennsylvania since at least the 1830s. These outsized serpents are typically said to be up to 20 feet in length and around a foot in diameter, with dark coloring punctuated by bright yellow markings. One notable spate of sightings of such massive serpents allegedly happened in the vicinity of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania in April of 1833, and witnesses described how the serpent would move along while holding its head aloft several feet off the ground.
Some creatures reported from Pennsylvania are even more bizarre still. According to paranormal researcher Stan Gordon, on April 26, 2012 a man and his girlfriend were driving at night along a rural road called Mud Creek Road, near the town of Troy, when they had a life-changing, terrifying encounter with something truly outlandish. They at first saw some movement from the side of the road, which the girlfriend took to be a person possibly crawling about on the ground, and they pulled over the car to see if it was someone who needed help. As they approached, what bloomed from the darkness into their headlights was most certainly not a man, nor anything else they could have possibly imagined, and Gordon would write of this:
They soon realized that this was not a person, but instead a creature that was crawling very low to the ground. As they watched, the creature moved into a squatting position with its back completely straight, somewhat like the stance of a kangaroo. The arms of the creature where held tightly to its body. What looked like long claws that resembled the talons of an eagle were easily visible. The claws were estimated to be about 8-10 inches in length. One claw was shorter than the other three. The creature had a muscular body. The head of the beast appeared to be oversized and shaped like that of a wolf. At the top of its head were two pointed bat-like ears that looked to be about 4-6 inches long. The entire creature, according to the man, was covered with “dull wrinkly dark black skin”. The man described seeing large canine-like teeth in its mouth.
The eyes of the creature were about the size of a silver dollar and were shiny black. The man stated that even though he had his high beams directed at the creature, the eyes did not reflect at all. The man said he looked over the body during the 12 second encounter, and for some reason thought the creature should have wings, but none were apparent. In the squatted position, the creature seemed to be about five feet tall. At this point, the creature was in the left lane of the road and about 1-2 feet onto the pavement.
The creature then allegedly stood up on broom-stick thin legs to a height of 7 feet and turned its attention on the vehicle and the startled witnesses and seemed to only then become aware that it was being watched. As soon as it realized this, there was a “panicked” look that came over its face and it reportedly bounded away in a single great leap said to cover 40 feet to disappear off into the night. As the very frightened witnesses followed its epic jump into the darkened wilderness they were purportedly surprised when some sort of bird like and owl smashed into the windshield, only to go careening off into the woods. Adding to all of this is the weird fact that the thing was reported as seemingly shape-changing during the whole incident, of which Gordon would write:
The witnesses indicated that this creature appeared to be changing form. The driver said, “Its shape was nothing like when it was squatted”. The woman stated to me that it “shaped into another form.” She thought it was a dark brown color, and looked like a werewolf with a little back hair. She estimated that when it was leaping into the woods, she thought it stood about 9 feet tall. The woman while reluctant to say it said, “I think it was a man changing into a werewolf”. The man after the experience went onto the internet to try to figure out what he saw, and told me that the closest way he could describe the creature would be a gargoyle with no wings. The man commented, “I will never forget what we saw that night”
Also in 2012 was another report uncovered by Stan Gordon, this time originating from Fayette County, Pennsylvania. On March 18, 2012, the witness was allegedly out with his dog for a nighttime walk near his home when his attention was drawn upward by some sort of whooshing sound like that of enormous wings. As he did he says that he spotted a vast flying creature similar to a “dragon,” which was estimated as being 22 feet long and having a wingspan of around 18 feet. Gordon would report of the thing’s appearance:
The color was dark, possibly brown and red, similar to auburn brown. At the end tip of the wings there appeared to be talon-like fingers about 3 to 4 in number. The arms of the wing structure appeared muscular. The wings were quite thick, not like skin. There appeared to be a rear fin on both sides of its body, and the creature displayed at arrow head shaped tail. The witness also saw what appeared to be two extended rear legs. The creature had a cone shape around the head and it stopped flat on the base of the neck.
The oddest physical feature that the witness mentioned to me was that the mouth and eyes were illuminated with, “a very ominous orange glow”. As the creature flew over a tree at the bottom of the yard and moved off in the distance, the fellow heard a deep-throaty sound, similar to the fog horn on a boat. The entire observation lasted about 20 seconds.
If none of this is strange enough for you already, then how about a tribe of vicious, mutant albinos marauding through the hills? From the hills of Haycock Mountain, near Sellersville, PA, there have long been tales of a clan of bloodthirsty, inbred albino wild men with inhuman features, pointy ears, and sharp teeth filed to points, and which are supposedly extremely aggressive, known to chase passing cars, throwing rocks, tossing fireworks, and shooting rock salt as they do so, much to the terror of the vehicle’s occupants. According to the lore, these outlandish savages will try to stop people passing through, only to drag them from their vehicles and bring them off to be slaughtered and devoured. At other times they will apparently wait up in trees for passing hikers, dropping down to kill those who wander through.
When human prey is not available they will supposedly raid farms for their livestock or snatch pets, often mutilating them right there on the spot to take the best cuts and leaving the rest of the carcass behind. It is said that they reside in windowless concrete homes buried in the most remote wilderness, and to cavort about by moonlight and engage in pagan rituals, and that the police know about them but are afraid of them and cover it up. Reports of these albino mutant freaks are numerous, with many people claiming to have been chased by the albino cannibals or to have known people who have disappeared in the mountains never to return. One report was given on Weird U.S. by a woman known only as Melissa, who said of the albinos and their alleged lair:
There’s a place we call Ghost Mountain [actually Haycock Mountain], near an old covered bridge where local legend has it that someone had hanged himself. It’s also said that if you turn your car on and off three times, your car will cease to start. You can really get a sense of bad vibes around that area. There is a house near there where albinos live. The story with them is that if you dare go on their property they will chase you away with a shotgun in hand. A couple of my friends found this out to be true. I never saw the actual albinos myself, but did see the house. It’s pretty strange. You have to go down a dirt road and just before you reach a cool old-timey red covered bridge. On the way to the place down the bumpy dirt road are little doors in the side of a hill, strange tunnel complexes, hobbit holes and other freaky stuff.
Theories as to what these mysterious predatory albinos could be range from that they are escaped circus freaks, to that they are weird medical experiments gone awry to even ghosts and demons. It is most likely all an urban legend, but it is creepy nevertheless to imagine that there is a tribe of cannibalistic pale creatures dancing in the moonlight and feasting on human flesh up there in the mountains of Pennsylvania, and it definitely seems like a place you would not want your car to break down at. Here we have looked at strange water monsters, flying beasts, roving bands of marauding albino cannibals, and others. It is unsure just how much truth any of these accounts hold, but they certainly seem to point to Pennsylvania being a location infused with the odd.