Frederick County, Maryland was founded in the 1730s by a group of German immigrants. The county is located in the northern part of Maryland and is the home to about 240,000 people. Frederick County is home to the presidential retreat Camp David and the Army’s Fort Detrick. It is also the home of an unsightly beast.
When the German immigrants settled in Frederick County, it was not long before stories started to circulate about encounters with a terrifying creature. They referred to it as the “Schneller Geist” or the “fast ghost” in German. Descriptions of the creature were quickly corroborated by many of the townspeople and the creature became quite the nuisance.
People described the beast as being half bird and half reptile. Sightings indicated spotting a beak made of some sort of metal with razor sharp teeth that the creature was quick to bare. Even weirder, the bird creature was described as having tentacles like an octopus that people claim to have seen the creature use to seize its victims and carry them away. Some rumors claimed that people were fed to the weird creature’s abominable babies.
There were also reports of a dragon like beast being spotted by nearby Washington, DC and throughout the Maryland area. First, reports involved household disturbances like missing dogs or farm animals. Later, the stories escalated to actually seeing the beast carry the animals away and stories of attacks on anyone who tried to intervene.
Later described as a half bird demon ghoul mix, the creature was renamed the “Snallygaster.” People described it making an ear splitting siren noise while swooping down on prey or warning nearby onlookers. Many claimed the bird sucked the blood of its victims and many locals painted seven pointed stars on their barns in an effort to keep the creature away.
In the 19th century, more people disregarded the rumors and stories, claiming the bird creature was invented to scare wayward children or to frighten freed slaves. However, in February and March of 1909, several newspapers reported encounters with the creature. They noted its enormous wings, long pointed bill, the claws like steel hooks, an eye in the center of its forehead, and a screech that sounded like a locomotive whistle.
The Snallygaster stories slowly quieted down, but reports resurfaced in 1932. Rumors eventually started to circulate that the bird creature had died by drowning in a vat of whiskey smash on a Baltimore, Maryland farm. However, as it was during the Prohibition era, some refused to believe the story was true.
Shortly after, stories began circulating again. This time, the Snallygaster became so popular that the Smithsonian offered a reward to anyone that could bring them the creature’s hide. President Theodore Roosevelt is even rumored to have put off a long planned safari in order to remain stateside and hunt the bird. He and his troops headed off into the woods, armed with tranquilizer guns, nets, and a steel cage.
Unfortunately, the creature was never caught and continues to star in stories of the area, alongside “Dewayo”, the Snallygaster’s widely known mortal enemy. The mammalian biped with wolf like features but a stance and stature like a human is sometimes seen fighting with the Snallygaster, or, at least, fighting for the headlines.