Monsters in the mitten: Strange tales of cryptids and monsters from around Michigan
Strange noises, foul smells and a presence that even frightens pets.
These are traits of a creature that supposedly lives in the woods by Edmore, a small village near Mount Pleasant. The residents here claim to see the classic cryptid, Bigfoot, according to an article from MLive. And while some people may claim this to be silly, the article said people in the neighborhood think differently.
“People out here don’t walk these roads after dark,” said Tammy Forrester, a resident from Edmore who was quoted in the article.
However, that is not the only alleged monster that roams the woods of Michigan. The world is full of mystery and Michigan is no different. With urban legends comes sightings and those who claim to see these creatures despite evidence that points in other directions.
Bigfoot or Sasquatch is commonly used to describe a large, bipedal, ape-like creature that usually stands at 7 ft. tall. Sightings have been reported from multiple parts of the country for decades.
Michigan seems to be a prime location for the iconic cryptid whose supposed sightings occur in heavily wooded areas. There are a couple articles in the Central Michigan Life archive that talk about Isabella-related bigfoot phenomena.
One of these articles took up nearly a page and a half in a 1996 edition of CM Life. The article details a situation with a couple living in the very southern portion of Clare County, who recently moved into a house on the outskirts of the town of Lake.
One of the owners, Carl Harmon, said he saw a 7-foot-tall, Neanderthal-like creature walking in front of his car headlights shortly after moving in. Harmon once said the creature even ran across his roof. He said there are bears in the woods, but he was insistent that it was not a bear.
The man began studying the supposed creature, claiming to have found their sleeping spots and their dieting habits. A bigfoot even killed two of his hunting dogs in the middle of the local swamp, he claimed.
A more recent case comes from an article in MLive. After the Animal Planet show, “Finding Bigfoot,” did an exploration in Gladwin Forest, Houghton Lake and West Branch, Forrester wondered why the show didn’t investigate her wooded area. She said her family had been seeing Bigfoot for around 15 years, the article said. She even said the creature once came up and knocked a fan out of her window.
But that’s not the only furry creature claimed to exist in Michigan, one that the state can call its own.
The Michigan Dogman
Perhaps Michigan’s most famous local monster, the legend of the Michigan Dogman has been around for a long time with supposed sightings dating back over a century. Usually described as a bipedal man-like creature with the head of a canine, this local legend became famous rather recently.
In 1987, a man named Steve Cook wrote and performed a song called, “The Legend of the Dogman,” for the radio station WTCM-FM, according to an article from CM Life. While this was supposed to be an April Fool’s joke, he was shocked when many people began calling in with their own claims to have seen the creature.
When writing the song, Cook said he had no idea that the Dogman was already a piece of Michigan folklore with alleged sightings dating back far before the song.
The first historical sighting was in 1887, according to book titled, “Traveling Michigan's Sunset Coast.” It says two lumberjacks saw a dog-like creature.
The lumberjacks began chasing it down. To their utter shock, the creature supposedly stood upright and the lumberjacks ran away, never to return.
There was once even supposed footage of the Dogman. According to an article for skeptoid.com, a website for a long-running podcast about popular myths, a short piece of footage emerged in 2007 that supposedly depicts a Dogman attack on camera.
The video became known as the Gable film and features mostly innocuous footage of snowmobiling. However, around the three-minute, seven-second mark of the video, the footage cuts to a creature that is running to the camera. The cameraman dropped the footage and some teeth are visible at the end of the footage.
However, the article said that footage was revealed to be a hoax created by a fan of Cook’s song, dampening the dreams of anyone who believed footage of the Dogman was found.
However, there’s another Michigan monster supposedly roaming the woods of the Lower Peninsula.
The Melon Heads
Perhaps the most grotesque of the local Michigan legends is that of the Melon Heads. While this legend exists in other states like Ohio and Connecticut, it began in Michigan, according to an article from Click On Detroit.
There is some conflicts with how the legend goes, but most versions stem from the Saugatuck area and involves small children who suffered from Hydrocephalus staying in a local hospital. Hydrocephalus is a disease that causes the buildup of cerebrospinal fluid in or around the brain, according to ssmhealth.com.
The story differs from various accounts. Some versions said the hospital closed, sending the children astray with nowhere to go, according to the article. Other accounts said the children ran away due to mistreatment and abuse from the doctors.
Some people still claim to spot them, with teens claiming to see them around the local Felt Mansion.
But there’s another Michigan mystery story that’s more otherworldly.
The Michigan UFO Wave of 1966
This is probably stretching the definition of “monster,” but it fits in with mysteries in Michigan and even has some Isabella County connections. A swampy UFO sighting that sparked hysteria across the state, even bringing a sitting congressman into the mix.
Here’s a general summary of the event: On March 20, 1966, a man named Frank Mannor reported to police about something strange at a swamp area in Dexter Township. Mannor said he saw a pyramid-shaped object with lights and heat waves emitting from it. Around 40-60 people saw it before it quickly darted away, according to an article from Click On Detroit.
A police search would entail, with sightings of strange lights being reported from all over the Ann Arbor area. This prompted the U.S. Air Force to start an investigation. Officials said swamp gas was the cause of these strange lights, leading to outrage and calls of a cover-up after this explanation.
This even prompted a response from then Michigan congressman, Gerald Ford, who called for a congressional investigation into the matter. This never came to fruition.
Isabella County couldn’t escape this UFO mania, with a couple reported sightings happening around the same time. In a short CM Life article from April, 1966, it’s reported that twenty students witnessed two objects in the sky emitting bluish-green and red lights. These are the same colors Mannor said was coming from the swamp object he saw.
How do these legends spread?
These stories seem, for good reason, far fetched for many people. Yet, there are still many people that believe these stories, claiming to see these monsters and even committing much of their time researching them.
But, how do these stories spread and become something more than legend? Assistant communications professor Alysa Lucas teaches a class called Lying and Deception.
When asked about why people come to believe in these types of stories, she said it could be based on attention-seeking, wanting to keep rouses going and even simply wanting to believe in weird tales like cryptids.
“We want to believe that things are true,” Lucas said. “It’s not that we’re gullible. I think we get so much information that it can be hard to check our facts on everything.
“When you believe that much in let’s say Bigfoot, you’re probably finding sources that confirm the things that you believe. Sometimes we will overlook things.”