At the end of “The Wizard of Oz,” the wizard gave the Scarecrow a diploma – a visible symbol to others of his intelligence. In the world outside of cryptozoology, a cryptid wanting people to recognize it needs a similar visible sign – a book, a movie, an annual festival … things like that. Very few people have ever heard of the Snallygaster, but that will change in 2022 when this Maryland cryptid gets its own museum. The Snally what?
“I’m also a big fan of Cryptids and cryptozoology. It’s my favorite thing. And when I moved to Maryland a few years ago, I started to do all this research about the folklore and I found out about the snallygaster and I was like, ‘why isn’t this more of a thing?’”
It will be when Sarah Cooper opens the American Snallygaster Museum in Frederick, Maryland, in 2021. Why does the Snallygaster deserve its own museum? Can you think of any other cryptid that was on the hunting list of a U.S. president? According to the Daily Yonder, Cooper’s museum will tell the stories of the Snallygaster going all the way back to the 1730s when German immigrants settled in Frederick and began seeing the Schneller Geist or “quick ghost” that was described as half-bird, half-reptile chimera with a metal beak, sharp teeth, red eyes, and the ability to silently swoop down, grab humans with its octopus tentacles and carry them off to suck out their blood. According to the legend, painting a seven-pointed star on a barn or house protected its contents and residents from a snallygaster.
While this sounds like a myth created by Native Americans to scare off the white settlers, reports of snallygaster sightings and encounters persisted into the 1900s, when the Smithsonian Institution offered a reward for a snallygaster hide and U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt reportedly considered postponing an African safari to personally hunt the cryptid. And long before the movies made it popular, the Snallygaster had a monster enemy – the Dwayyo or Dewayo, a dogman-like creature said to stand 6 feet tall and be able to kill Snallygasters … newspaper reports in the mid-1960s told of finding footprints and other evidence of cryptid battles.
While the Dwayyo may be more fearsome, it doesn’t have a museum. Cooper currently houses all of her Snallygaster info and paraphernalia in her home until she and her husband finish building the barn that will hold the museum. The collection includes “art, artifacts, and pop culture pieces featuring Maryland’s own dragon” – more info on tours, merchandise and schedules is available at the Snallygaster Museum website … including details on when the next Snallygaster will be born. They’re said to live for 20 years, then stay buried for 20 years before hatching again, so Cooper calculates we’re due to see one in 2024 — will it visit the museum?
Once the American Snallygaster Museum becomes the cyrtid Smithsonian of Maryland, will the Dwayyo demand its own exhibition … howling “Why aren’t I more of a thing too-oo-oo?”