For years I taught my classes about mythology and folklore. Students were always fascinated by the Jersey devil because it supposedly lurked nearby. So when The History Channel promised to send me Monster Quest, I was eager and excited to see what it had to say about the Ocean-Burlington region. I hoped that science and technology could separate the legend from reality. I attentively watched the episode “Devils in New Jersey”. It was detailed, factual, and intriguing. Let me tell you about it.
The tale of the Jersey devil is a 250 year old story. It dates back to Colonial times in the 1800’s in the Great Swamp along the Mullica River in 1735. This, coincidentally, is within thirty miles of where many people claim to have seen the Jersey devil.
Folklore and mythology tell the story of the Leeds family and its twelve children. Those who knew them considered them all strange. So when Mrs. Leeds found herself pregnant yet again, she prayed to bear not a child but a devil. The offspring of that thirteenth pregnancy was a normal baby but he changed soon after birth. He became a monster with red eyes set in the head of a horse, with wings at its shoulder blades, and the feet of a goat.
Within the last twenty years there have been 200 sightings, mostly nocturnal, in the Northeast United States. Many of these are recorded in New Jersey, the most densely populated state, in its 1,000,000 acres of forbidden forests. What is the bizarre flying monster with no fear of man? Is it a devil, a gargoyle, a giant bat with wings? Could it be owl, deer, fox, bobcat, or raccoon?
The Pine Barrens between Philadelphia and New York City has desolate forests. Both Wharton State Park and Smithville, two of the locales involved, lie within it. Two witnesses, the Winklemans, are credible in their belief they saw something; still their polygraphs do not prove what they saw. Was it a supernatural being, a misidentified bird, an unidentified creature? A sculpture made from their descriptions proves no answer.
The Jersey devil is not connected with the 2008 Montauk Monster. Experts from Plum Island studied the grizzly photograph of decomposed remains. They identified the remains as that of a boxer. It is unlikely that the Jersey devil is a hammerhat bat because of the unlikeliness of it surviving in a non-humid, non-tropical, non-80 to 90 degree climate. The great horned owl is similar to many parts of Jersey devil descriptions.
So what is certain is this:
- In the last few years a large ambitious search was made of an area with a notorious past.
- Pictures of footprints in the snow were scientifically analyzed.
- Findings can rule out what they are NOT but not what they are.
I followed up with Death of Loch Ness, Cattle Killers, Swamp Stalker, Gators in Sewers, Snowbeast Slaughter, Mega Jaws, and Monster Encounters. I will not summarize these episodes. The best part of them is the filming. I’ll let you find out the truth about Nessie, livestock mutilations, Big Foot in Arkansas, alligators, Big Foot in the Rockies, a sixty foot shark, and Big Foot in the Northwest yourselves. Every episode has been presented after careful research, examining the evidence, and interviewing experts. Monster Quest did a great job of discovering the truth or, at least, disproving some legends.
The winner of this giveaway will receive a copy of the Monster Quest Season Three DVD.
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THE SMALL PRINT.
US addresses only please. This contest will end on Monday 08/31/09 at 11:59 pm est. If you’ve entered any of my giveaways before then you know that only comments containing all of the requested information will be eligible for entry. The winner must contact me to confirm they wish to receive the prize within two days of my email notifying them they’ve won. Good luck to everyone!
THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW OVER.