An artist's depiction
|Theories|| · Extraterrestrial|
· Tall tale
The Snallygaster was a strange flying beast that first appeared in Frederick County in early February, 1909. The story was carried prominently in Middletown's Valley Register, a weekly newspaper, for about a month before the story mysteriously died.
In the early issues, the flying beast seemed to be everywhere at once: New Jersey, West Virginia, Ohio, and headed this way. It was reported to have created quite a stir in New Jersey, where its footprints were first discovered in the snow.
The first person to see it, James Harding, described it as having enormous wings, a long sharp beak, claws like steel, and one eye in the middle of its forehead. He said it made shrill screeching noises and looked like a cross between a tiger and a vampire. A vampire may have been a good description, for it was reported to have killed a man named Bill Gifferson by piercing his neck with its sharp bill and slowly sucking his blood.
There are several explanations as to what the creature could be. Theories include:
- An undiscovered species (a Cryptid)
- A hoax/tall tale
- It was also seen in West Virginia, where it almost caught a woman near Scrabble, roosted in Alex Crow's barn, and laid an egg near Sharpsburg, where it was reported some men had rigged up an incubator to try to hatch it.
- T.C. Harbaugh, of Casstown, Ohio, wrote a letter to the Valley Register in early 1909, telling of a strange beast that flew over his area making terrible screeching noises. Harbaugh described it as having two huge wings, a large horny head, and a tail twenty feet long. He said it looked as though it was headed this way.
- Sightings of the Snallygaster were creating such a commotion that at one point it was reported that President Theodore Roosevelt might postpone a trip to Europe so that he could lead an expedition to capture it.
- In 1976, the Washington Post sponsored an unsuccessful search for the Snallygaster, as well as other strange Maryland creatures.