The 5 Scariest Monster Urban Legends In The U.S.

Markus Kniebes
Markus Kniebes

The White River monster

You don’t often hear of fish being creepy in America. Places like Loch Ness have those tales held down pretty tight (unless you’re a Baltimore native and choose to believe that Chessie, the Maryland equivalent of Nessie is real…but come on). But in the waters of Arkansas, there swims a creature that finds itself worthy to be number five on this list – The White River Monster.

The earliest sighting of the monster was in 1915, where it was described by a plantation owner as “as wide as a car and three cars long”. People in the town believed the story, feared for their fishing and their safety, and began creating a rope net large enough to capture the beast. Construction stopped when they ran out of money and materials.

Many other sightings have occurred since then, however, many cryptozoologists believe that the White River Monster isn’t really a monster at all, but rather a lost, large elephant seal that made it’s way up the Mississippi River and into the White River.

Maybe there is a giant monster in the waters of the Southern state. Maybe it’s just a lost shore dweller. Either way, it’s good enough for us to put it on the list!


One of the things that makes our number four monster so popular is the fact that entertainment mediums have gotten such a strong grip on it. You see a man who stalks the woods around numerous camps, looking for children/young folk who have separated themselves from the group, so he could have them meet their bitter end. Why does he do it? Well, there are a whole lot of different theories as to why he does all this. Many of the urban legends have him written off as a former camp counselor who was injured in a prank gone wrong, forever seeking his revenge. Others have him as the hook-handed prison escapee who lurks around for the stray child who wanders too far from the campsite.

What gets up on the list of top five though? Well, the fact that there are actually children missing. Real children. Hank Gafforio, Holly Ann Hughes, Alice Pereira – amongst others – all disappeared and are tied to this urban legend in one form or another. Mostly due the 1988 charging of Andre Rand, a former janitor of the Willowbrook State School, who was was found guilty of first degree kidnapping of many of these missing individuals. He will be eligible for parole in 2037, when he is 93 years old.

This attention has led the legend to quite a few films bearing this figure as an antagonist. Truth behind a story can make it twice as horrifying.

The aliens at Roswell

In Chaves County, New Mexico, there sits a bustling town called Roswell, and it is known for one thing: Aliens. So much, in fact, that the town thrives on tourists coming in to see the attractions set up by the town based on the subject. Even the city’s seal has a little green man looking over its border!

How did all this come to be? Back in 1947, a supposed crash of an “unidentified flying object” occurred just outside of the town. Though many folks nowadays believe it to have been an Air Force balloon, many still hold on to the fact that the town draws the creepy green folks. And ever since the incident, there have been numerous amounts of claims of alien activity in and around the city. The area is now a popular setting for many science fiction and horror fans looking to write about the visitors from another world.

The Goatman

Many states have claimed ownership of the Goatman, but none quite as prevalent as Prince George’s County, Maryland. The Goatman of Prince George’s County, known as PG County by the locals, is an axe-wielding, half animal, half man creature. At one point, this beast was a scientist at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center. And yes, that is a real place that does real research. It really does exist. It’s full title is the Henry A. Wallace Beltsville Agricultural Research Center and it is overseen by the United States Department of Agriculture.

This scientist used to hold experiments on goats, of which there are plenty of in PG County. Just like out of a scary movie, the experiment goes bad, the scientist makes a brave attempt to save his research and ‘poof’ he becomes the Goatman. Ever since, this man stalks the woods around the county, murdering hikers and campers with his axe. Some claim the scientist was named “Stephen Fletcher” and that his experiments were some of the earliest experiments on DNA identification and splicing, back in 1957.

Others claim that the Goatman is actually a hermit, and not so much a story or lore, who wanders the streets of Prince George’s County and who may have actually hurt people in the past. That side of the story is intriguing, but also a bit more disturbing. Either way, the goatman is a staple outside of Baltimore and, alongside its own crybaby bridge that it haunts, we don’t plan to see him going anywhere for quite some time.

The Jersey Devil

Probably the most popular creature in the United States takes the number one spot on our list. Every American with an interest in horror has a version of the Jersey Devil that they have heard, witnessed, or believed. It is as timeless as American horror itself.

The creature is normally described as a “kangaroo-like creature with the head of a goat, leathery bat-like wings, horns, small arms with clawed hands, cloven hooves and a forked tail” and has been compared to mythical creatures such as dragons, drakes, and obviously, the devil. Though nothing of the monster was printed until 1909, the tales of the creature date back orally through the late 18th and early 19th century.

Legend has it that Mother Leeds, already having given birth to 12 children, was getting ready to birth her 13th when it was discovered that she was a witch and the father was the devil himself. Though born as a human, the Leeds Devil quickly transforms into the beast we all know and love before killing a midwife and flying out the chimney to haunt the town forevermore.

The Jersey Devil is one of America’s favorite urban legends and if you’re lucky enough, on a dark stormy night in New Jersey, you might just be able to meet it! Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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