The Most Popular Cryptid in Every U.S. State
Cryptids and urban legends have entertained and intrigued many around campfires and sleepovers for years. Learn about your state’s spookiest cryptids here.
Every urban legend has its origin story. Urban legends start as tall tales and balloon their way into the social consciousness by thousands of people sharing their perceived experiences with others. Most of the time, it is nothing more than a trick of the light, fooling people into seeing something lurking in the shadows or murky depths. Others might squint really hard at something to see whatever they want to be there.
These monsters, or cryptids, as some like to call them, hang around in spooky stories every year around campfire season, and as sightings of mythical creatures like Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster increase, so does our curiosity. For this study, the team at Cree Lighting set out to shed some light on the most popular urban legends in each state using data from Google Trends.
Snallygasters and Mothmen, Oh My! Every State’s Favorite Cryptid
While some urban legends morph into international superstars like the Kraken and Yeti, other cryptids have humble fan bases in specific localities. America is full of lesser-known urban legends that stick to haunting certain states and regions. For example, the Snallygaster. The Snallygaster's first sighting was in Maryland during the early 1900s, and has remained the talk of the town in the DMV area ever since.
Despite this cryptid’s fun name, the Snallygaster is a terrifying bird-meets-reptile chimera that snatches children and small farm animals at night. According to legend, the Snallygaster died in Washington County, where it was “overcome by the fumes of a moonshine still and fell from the sky into the 2,500-gallon vat of alcohol.” Today, people annually commemorate the creature’s booze-drenched demise with a fun outdoor beer festival in Washington, DC.
Another lesser-known urban legend in the U.S. is the Fouke Monster. The Fouke Monster is a sasquatch-like cryptid that resides somewhere in the network of creeks extending from the Sulphur River Bottoms in Arkansas to a small town called Fouke. The town garnered national attention in the 1970s after one Bobby Ford reported to the Fouke constable that he was attacked one night by a terrifying creature. Ford claimed that the red-eyed creature had inhuman strength and could move very quickly, like an evil hairy swamp Superman.
One of the country’s most beloved regional cryptids is West Virginia’s Mothman. Mothman was first sighted in 1966 in Point Pleasant, West Virginia. As the story goes, two young couples fled the local woods claiming they saw a creature that looked mostly human, except for its massive wings and glowing red eyes. The local paper ran the story of the Mothman, and within a couple of days, the entire town went to where it was originally sighted to hunt it down. Their efforts were unsuccessful, but a legend was born. Today, the Mothman Museum remains a popular attraction among locals and visitors alike.
These legends don’t just influence community events. In some cases, they become so ingrained in local lore that they sneak their way into popular mainstream media. Take Washington and New Jersey, for example, both states’ top-searched cryptids influenced their NHL team’s decisions on mascots. Seattle is the NHL’s newest franchise and settled on the nickname Kraken in 2020 to honor the city’s maritime culture and interest in the giant octopus, and the Jersey Devils have been New Jersey's pro hockey team since 1982, named after their own local urban legend.
International Cryptozoology: Popular Cryptids From Around the World
As it turns out, the most popular urban legend in 12 U.S. states is actually of Scottish origin. The Loch Ness Monster is a supposed marine creature that inhabits Lake Loch Ness in Scotland. Since 1993, numerous sightings of the sea monster have been reported, igniting the collective imaginations of locals and tourists alike. Loch Ness lovers rejoice–there may be some truth to these sightings after all. According to scientists, the creature responsible for the repeated sightings of the fabled Nessie may be a giant eel.
Another popular internationally-acclaimed Cryptid in the U.S. is the Chupacabra. The vampiric cryptid has captivated the imaginations of seven states, primarily in the southwest. The tale of the Chupacabra originated in Latin America, with its first purported sightings taking place in Puerto Rico. Legend has it that the monster would come out at night and attack livestock to drink its blood. In most cases, the creepy bloodsuckers were actually coyotes with severe mange.
While often just tricks of the light, urban legends are fun campfire stories to tell as the weather cools down a bit. Still, running into something in the dark can lead to an unsettling and unexplainable encounter. You can avoid any additional scares from these creepy cryptids by using Cree’s residential lighting solutions.
To determine the most popular cryptid in every U.S. state, we compiled a list of 100 of the most popular ones from around the world using websites like Mental Floss, Exemplore, and Forbes, among others. From there, to ensure our study included the ones people are most interested in, we ran those terms through the search tool, Ahrefs, to get a list of the 25 top-searched cryptids in the U.S.
We then used Google Trends to find their relative search popularity in every state to see which cryptids people around the country are searching for most often. Using Ahrefs, we could also determine the top-searched cryptids in the U.S. and worldwide by monthly search volume.
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