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Vermont monsters to watch out for!

Vermonters are forever encountering weird things in the woods, and when they do, Joseph A. Citro is there to document them.

He’s spent years collecting stories of Vermont’s weirdness and wonders. His book, The Vermont Monster Guide (UPNE, 2009),  includes all the creatures on this list, plus more than 50 others. His other books include Green Mountain Ghosts, Ghouls, and Unsolved Mysteries, Green Mountains Dark Tales and The Vermont Ghost Guide.

Here, according to Citro, are the state’s five most notorious monsters:

• Champ: Vermont’s monster superstar has made its home in Lake Champlain for centuries. Native Americans knew about Champ long before the Europeans came in the 1600s, and its been spotted at regular intervals ever since. Long, dark, and infinitely elusive, Vermont’s waterlogged wonder has been seen, photographed, videoed, but never captured or identified.

• Bennington Monster: Descriptions of this incredible creature vary, but supposedly it’s gigantic and is occasionally provoked to anger. In the 19th century, it toppled a stagecoach and still pops up, terrifying hikers, hunters, and even motorists. Prehistoric or preternatural, it makes its home in the Glastenbury Mountain wilderness.

• Old Slipperyskin: First encountered by early settlers in the Lemington-Maidstone-Victory area of the Northeast Kingdom, this fearsome oddity made war against the newcomers, scaring their children, ruining their crops, and scattering their livestock. Witnesses claimed it was an especially clever bear — but unlike any conventional bear, Old Slipperyskin walked on two legs. Reevaluation of these old stories, and the introduction of more recent evidence, suggests Old Slipperyskin might have been what we now call Bigfoot.

• Woodstock Vampire: Woodstock may well be the vampire capital of Vermont; history records at least two of the specimens. One (so the story goes) is buried beneath the town’s scenic green. But beware, tradition tells us vampires don’t stay down for long.

• Pigman: This grotesque biped took up residence in Northfield in the late 1960s. Where it came from and how it was created are mysteries. Frequent Pigman sightings and occasional attacks eventually led to a description: He walks upright, standing a good five-eight to five-ten. His body is naked and completely covered with light hair. He has long claws, possibly cloven feet. His most distinguishing feature is the preposterous pig-like face. Oh, and it can move very fast!

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Originally published in The Commons issue #72 (Wednesday, October 20, 2010).

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