The Snallygaster & Bunny Man: 4 of Virginia’s creepiest cryptids

Bunny Man

Photo courtesy of Bunny Man

By Dogwood Staff

May 30, 2024

The state of Virginia has mountain crags and peaks, lush valleys with green foliage, and dense, thick forests. All of these places make it easy for legendary creatures to hide. Virginia’s folklore is a combination of mysterious and legendary, and the state’s legendary creatures have captured the imagination of locals and visitors alike for centuries. From dragon-like beasts to serpentine specters, Virginia is home to a rich tapestry of mythical beings that roam its forests, waters, and battlefields. Let’s delve into the lore of Virginia’s legendary creatures.

The Enigmatic Snallygaster, Virginia’s Dragon-Like Beast

Dare to tread into the wild heart of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, and you may find yourself amidst tales of the creature: the Snallygaster. This legendary beast, with its fearsome dragon-like appearance, has stirred the imaginations of those who dare to whisper its name. With the body of a colossal bird and the head of a dragon, adorned with terrifying teeth and sharp talons, the Snallygaster has a place of prominence in the folklore of Virginia.

For centuries, the Snallygaster has been the stuff of legend, a sinister presence that once terrorized the early German settlers of the region. It is said to soar silently through the fog-draped valleys of the mountains. The settlers spoke of its predilection for the taste of livestock, and more chillingly, an appetite for unsuspecting children who wandered too far from their homes. They told tales around their firesides of the beast’s shadow passing over their villages, an ominous sign that sent them scurrying for the safety of their homes.

The Snallygaster continues to hold a certain allure. Adventurers and thrill-seekers are drawn to the Blue Ridge Mountains, eager to uncover the truth behind the legend. They comb through the dense forests and scale the misty peaks, hoping to catch a glimpse of this elusive creature or, at the very least, to feel the thrill of the unknown that pervades this ancient landscape.

While the Snallygaster may be a creature of myth, its story is deeply rooted in the cultural heritage of several areas: Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and some even say the creature has been sighted in New Jersey. The Snallygaster, with its dragon-like visage and mysterious nature, continues to captivate the imagination and serves as a symbol of the untamed wild in Virginia.

Chessie, the Serpentine Specter of the Chesapeake

Beneath the rippling shores of the Chesapeake Bay, legend whispers of Chessie, the serpentine specter that has intrigued generations. This giant sea serpent has long been the subject of sailors’ yarns and fishermen’s tales. Those who claim to have seen this mythical beast describe a creature of astonishing length—some say Chessie is at least 30 feet long and as thick as a telephone pole. The first reported sighting of Chessie was in 1846, somewhere near the Virginia Beach area.

The history of Chessie’s sightings stretches back centuries, intertwining with the very identity of the Chesapeake Bay. In 1982, a local family supposedly captured Chessie on video, but many people remain skeptical, especially since the video is extremely grainy. In short, Chessie’s existence remains a mystery. Scientists offer explanations ranging from misidentified wildlife to optical illusions, yet none can fully dispel the enchantment of Chessie’s legend. Perhaps Chessie is out there, waiting to be discovered.

The Woodbooger, Virginia’s Own Bigfoot

Deep in the shadowy heart of Virginia’s dense, untamed forests, the Woodbooger stirs among the towering trees and thick underbrush. This creature is Virginia’s very own legendary Bigfoot-type. Tales of the Woodbooger are all unique. Some speak of fleeting glimpses of a towering figure, and others recount finding mysterious oversized footprints. And then some have claimed to hear certain sounds—a low, rumbling howl that rolls like thunder through the quiet of the forest.

The origins of the Woodbooger’s legend are rooted in Appalachian lore, and this is both revered and feared. For those brave enough to venture into its domain, the pursuit of the Woodbooger is a quest through woods and overgrown paths. You can find a statue of the Woodbooger at the Flag Rock Overlook in the Flag Rock Recreation Area in Virginia.

Since the creature was featured on a TV Show in 2011, the town where Flag Rock is located has embraced Woodbooger. Now, each year there’s a Woodbooger Festival. Whether you want to head out and find the creature on your own or experience the lore with a crowd, the Woodbooger’s history awaits to be explored.

The Bunny Man, an Urban Legend Born from the Shadows

One of Virginia’s most unsettling urban legends is that of the Bunny Man. This peculiar phantom is supposedly clad in what is described as a rabbit costume and he is typically brandishing an ax. This legend straddles the thin line between absurd and terrifying, and its home Virginia’s folklore has grown and evolved with each telling.

The origins of the Bunny Man legend are as murky as the misty nights on which he is said to appear. The story has been traced back to Fairfax County, where the figure was originally seen wandering around near the nation’s capital. By 1973, there had been several sightings of the “Bunny Man,” a figure who threatened children and destroyed property. And by the 1980s, Bunny Man had several murders credited to him.

According to lore, the Bunny Man is an escaped convict, or perhaps a wronged individual seeking vengeance, who haunts a specific overpass—now chillingly dubbed the “Bunny Man Bridge”—and the surrounding woods. The tale describes encounters with a sinister figure, donning a rabbit costume, who lashes out at trespassers with his ax. Although the existence of Bunny Man has never been fully confirmed, evidence suggests that the legend emerged around the 1970s.

Read more: The History Behind All 63 National Parks In The US

This story was generated in part by AI and edited by The Dogwood staff.
CATEGORIES: LOCAL HISTORY

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