Monsters of North America

Monsters of the Sea: Sea Serpent of Gloucester!

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This image is drawn from an early engraving depicting the monster with the caption, “Taken from life as appeared in Gloucester Harbour, August 23, 1817”.
First mentioned in 1638, and last seen in 1962, it was about seventy feet long, with big eyes, sharp teeth, and a scaly body. The serpentine beast was said to lurk in the waters off the harbor of Gloucester,located just north of Boston on the lower portion of Cape Ann.
During the summer of 1817, the serpent made its temporary home in the harbor. For almost an entire month, sightings were reported. This is particularly significant as Gloucester has always been a fishing community populated by individuals who were well familiar with the fauna of the sea.
General David Humphreys, a former member of George Washington’s staff, travelled down to Gloucester to interview witnesses. According to the testimony he gathered, the creature’s head, which it held above the water, was “much like the head of a turtle… and larger than the head on any dog.” Its color was like “dark chocolate”, although as the years went on its skin seemed to turn darker, to almost black. In a compilation of sightings printed in the Boston Weekly Messenger it was further reported that the creature was sixty to seventy feet in length, that it was about as wide as a barrel, that it moved rapidly in a serpentine fashion, that it was able to double back upon itself instantaneously. Countless people tried to kill it with muskets and harpoons but failed. Between 1817 and 1819, hundreds of people  reported seeing the monster.

Monsters of North America: The Piasa!

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The Piasa (pronounced Pie-a-saw) is sometimes called The Piasa Bird. It is a legendary creature depicted in a mural painted by Native Americans on cliffsides above the Mississippi River. The ancient mural was created prior to the arrival of any European explorers in the region, and possibly before 1200 CE. The picture’s original location was at the end of a chain of limestone bluffs in present-day Alton, Illinois. The original Piasa painting no longer exists, but a new one has been restored in its position.
The Piasa is described as having a man-like face with sharp teeth, antlers, a scaly body,sharp talons,two huge wings, and a tail so long  that it passed around the body, over the head and between the legs. The creature was given its name by the Illini Indians: “Piasa” means “a bird that devours men”. The Legend of the Piasa, involving a brave Native American chief helping to save his tribe from the monster’s craving for human flesh, can be read here.