Welcome back to Fantasy Prompt Corner! This week, we’ll be diving into the wonderfully weird world of cryptid stories from across America.

Some of the weirdest cryptid stories from sea to shining sea.
Some of the weirdest cryptid stories from sea to shining sea.
Photo by Jordan Whitfield on Unsplash

If you’ve been following Fantasy Prompt Corner, you might have noticed that some stories never seem to die out, no matter where or how they’re told. Every culture seems to have come up with something like a dragon, or something like a vampire. We still tell stories about these monsters today, even after the oldest stories have (probably) been disproven.

Then there are the kinds of myths that don’t seem to follow any pattern or trend. These are the kinds of stories that make you wonder if they might in fact be real, just by virtue of the fact that nobody could have made them up on their own. Here are some of the weirdest cryptid stories in America.

The Squonk

The Squonk of northern Pennsylvania.
The Squonk of northern Pennsylvania
Image free from Wikimedia Commons (Illustration by Coert Du Bois)

The Squonk, sometimes referred to by the scientific name of Lacrimacorpus dissolvens, hails from the Hemlock forest of northern Pennsylvania. Rumors of this cryptid began appearing in the late nineteenth century, at the height of Pennsylvania’s lumber industry. Most images of the Squonk portray a large quadruped, similar to a boar or a pig, with loose-fitting skin and webbed feet.

According to Henry Tryon, the author of Fearsome Critters, the Squonk is “probably the homeliest animal in the world.” Tryon also describes the creature as a “bashful, crepuscular animal, garbed in a loose, warty, singularly ill-fitting skin.” Despite its grotesque appearance, the Squonk is mostly harmless. It spends most of its time hiding in the woods and is often seen weeping in shame of its hideous appearance.

The Squonk’s strangest characteristic, however, is its remarkable ability to dissolve into tears. Almost all attempts at tracking down or catching the Squonk have failed when the beast, unwilling to be seen by others, escaped by dissolving into a pool of its own tears. An attempted hunter once coaxed the animal into a bag, but on his way home he found that the bag had suddenly become much lighter – and the Squonk had disappeared, leaving only tears behind.

The Fresno Nightcrawler

Little is known about the Fresno Nightcrawler. This cryptid was first spotted on a security footage tape around midnight in 2007. Since then, this bizarre creature has shown up in multiple incidents in Fresno and the surrounding area. The creature has had little interaction with human beings, but has raised quite a few questions.

Whatever the Fresno Nightcrawler may be, there’s no record of it bothering humans or causing harm to anyone.

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Is this an alien presence? A creature from another dimension? After the original sighting, there have been several hoaxes – sometimes as a joke, sometimes as deliberate attempts to debunk other rumors about the cryptid. Due to the creature’s bizarre appearance, all you’d really need to debunk the story would be a pair of pants and a way of making them walk.

Still, the hoaxes don’t necessarily explain the other sightings, or the people who maintain that they definitely saw something one night. Whatever the Fresno Nightcrawler may be, there’s no record of it bothering humans or causing harm to anyone. If there ever is an in-person encounter with this cryptid, we might have even more questions to answer.

Mothman

The legendary Mothman of West Virginia.
The legendary Mothman of West Virginia
Image free from Wikimedia Commons (Statue by Bob Roach)

West Virginia, just like my home state of New Jersey, seems to have a cryptid problem. Creatures like the Flatwoods Monster and the mysterious Indrid Cold have haunted the state for decades… but the most famous cryptid of all is probably Mothman of Point Pleasant, West Virginia. A seven-foot-tall humanoid with massive wings and glowing red eyes, the Mothman has appeared in everything from Native American legends to its very own museum.

The first recorded Mothman sighting happened in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, during the fall of 1966, when a group of men were digging a grave and spotted a strange creature flying low over their heads. A few nights later, two young couples were driving near Point Pleasant when one wife noticed a pair of red eyes glaring at them from the trees on the side of the road.

They stopped the car and discovered a gigantic humanoid creature – at least; it seemed humanoid at first. It wasn’t until later that they saw its wings. The creature chased them down the highway and into town, and then suddenly, it vanished. When they risked going back on the road, they encountered it again – only briefly, before it took off into the night sky. In the year following these two incidents, there were around 100 Mothman sightings in and around Point Pleasant.

Ever since then, the cryptid has been a popular legend in the area. However, there’s evidence that the story goes back even further: the Shawnee tribe, which has inhabited West Virginia for centuries, has a mythical figure known as the Waupee, which resembles Mothman. In this legend, a Shawnee man named Waupee fell in love with the daughter of a god and had a child with her. Since the family could not be together while Waupee was human, they chose to become white hawks. They may inhabit the forest around Point Pleasant to this day.


See? I told you this was going to get weird. If you enjoy reading about cryptids or urban legends from around the world, stay tuned for the next Fantasy Corner.