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Friday, July 13, 2007

The Jersey Devil

This is one of my favorites:

The New Jersey Devil -- or "Jersey Devil," as it is often called -- is said to have appeared at different times, and in different areas around the world, throughout history.  But, much like The Mothman, it actually only appeared in New Jersey once, in 1909 -- and left a lot of evidence to prove it.

One of the best, true cryptozoologic cases in the Folklore canon, the Jersey Devil was sighted by over 100 witnesses across 30 towns in the winter of 1909.  It left tracks through the snow -- tracks that went across the fields and streets with the same apparent ease as they went up walls and across rooftops -- and, though reports differ, most claim that it left only one, solid line of what were indisputably hoofprints.  This suggests the beast had only one leg and hopped to propel itself.

The eyewitness accounts varied wildly, but the composite drawing that was eventually accepted shows a creature with a horse’s head and body (however frail), with cloven hooves, and bat-like wings.  Some say it breathed fire, though others insist it hissed, but the steam from its mouth most likely came from the cold and was just steam.

Among the witnesses were a minister and a policeman who shot at it.  All of these sightings -- over 100 witnesses in 30 different cities -- occurred in and around the New England states on January 20th-22nd, 1909.

Though legends persist and pop-culture has made much of it, The Jersey Devil has never been seen nor heard from again.  Several photographs of the tracks The Jersey Devil is claimed to have left behind exist, though they have long since been bought and are no longer in circulation.  They may or may not be protected by copyright laws and so are not reprinted here.  While no known photographs of the creature have ever surfaced, the most popular composite sketch of it is available anywhere online.

Some claim the New Jersey Devil story was an elaborate insurance scam but no one can be certain.

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