Sinister Swamps: Monsters and Mysteries from the Mire is the new book from creature-seeker Lyle Blackburn. As those who have read Lyle’s previous books will know, he predominantly focuses his research on the Bigfoot enigma and various other mysterious, similar, hair-covered creatures. His books include The Beast of Boggy Creek, Beyond Boggy Creek, Momo, Lizard Man and Monstro Bizarro. And, when Lyle isn’t chasing monsters, he has his band, Ghoultown, to keep him busy. All of which brings me to Lyle’s latest release, the aforementioned Sinister Swamps. This is an excellent addition to Lyle’s previous books. And there’s something else, too. Sinister Swamps is notable because to a certain degree Lyle doesn’t just focus on the field of Cryptozoology. In other words, you get much more to learn and think about. And all of a weird nature – of course! If there is one thing you can say about swamps it’s that they’re creepy. There’s just something strange about them. And, Lyle clearly recognizes this: not only does he share his accounts with his readers; he also gives us a good, solid description of all the many and various U.S. swamps that he and his research partner, Cindy Lee, investigate. With that said, let’s take a look at the cases under the microscope.
Lyle begins with Hockomock Swamp, Massachusetts. What makes this particular swamp notable is the fact that – as our author reveals – multiple strange beasts have been encountered in Hockomock. Take, for example, the 2016 encounter of a local police-officer who encountered, on a foggy night, a huge, dog-like animal. Except it was no normal dog, that was for sure. It was very much hyena-like, but way bigger. “Huge” would be a good word to use. Officer Hadley suggested that had the creature stood upright, it would have been around seven-feet in height. We learn of other such reports in Hockomock. And of Bigfoot, strange bear-like animals, and massive birds – one of which was described by the witness as looking “prehistoric.” Most fascinating – and sinister – are the tales and legends of the Pukwudgie, a race of goblin-like beings that call Hockomock their home. Like the “little people” of the U.K. the Puckwudgie could be friendly, helpful, mischievous and downright dangerous. Moving on, there’s the matter of the Great Dismal, one of the biggest swamps in the United States. A distinctly appropriate name for a mysterious – and mystery-filled – swamp, it covers around 750 miles. Lyle investigates stories told by the Algonquian tribes, who had traditions of a “great fire bird.” To some degree, it comes across not unlike the legendary Thunderbird. Tales of ghosts, the Devil himself, and a beast that became known (in 1902) as the “Dismal Swamp Monster” can be found. Bigfoot/Skunk Ape-type creatures are spoken about in the Great Dismal, too. There’s also the spectral woman of the Lake Drummond Hotel.
Louisiana’s Honey Island Swamp is addressed deeply by Lyle. That’s not surprising, as in 1963 a large, hair-covered hominid was seen – something that was prominently highlighted in 1978 in an episode of the popular TV show, In Search of… The massive swamp continued to be a location for sightings of such beasts – and it still is. Mysterious cats – popularly known in the field of Cryptozoology as “Alien Big Cats” – have also been seen in the swamp and its surroundings. Now, let’s move onto the Okefenokee Swamp. As Lyle notes: “On the whole, the Okefenokee is part of the Southeastern Conifer Forests ecoregion. Specifically, it’s classified as a southern coastal plain nonriverine basin swamp and is the largest black water swamp in North America.” The “Man Mountain” is the area’s equivalent of Bigfoot. Tales of lost villages are told. As are reports of mysterious, floating balls of light known as “spook lights.” Most fascinating of all – for me, at least – is the connection to Flight 19. If you don’t know the story, it goes like this: on December 5, 1945 five U.S. Navy torpedo planes vanished, never to be seen again. And that goes for the crews, too. Theories for the mystery include (a) kidnappings by aliens and (b) portals into different times or dimensions. Lyle, however, provides a fascinating body of data that suggests Flight 19 may have come down in the Okefenokee Swamp and swallowed up. This is a very intriguing portion of the book and one not to be missed.
Add to that the ghosts and monsters of Texas’ Ottine Swamp, the Altamaha and its mysterious water-based beasts, and the Everglades (which have also been suggested as the last, fatal site of Flight 19 – as Lyle also shows) and their famous mysterious Skunk Ape. And it doesn’t end there. We also learn about Florida’s Tate’s Hell, what Lyle calls the Caddo Triangle, Hannah’s Creek Swamp in North Carolina, and more. Plus, there’s a wealth of photos, maps, extensive endnotes and a good index. So, what you have is a great, extensive study of the United States’ mysterious swamps and the strange and sinister things that lurk within them.