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Monsters of New Jersey!

Monsters of New Jersey

Monsters of New Jersey

Monsters of New Jersey, a new book by Loren Coleman and Bruce G. Hallenbeck and published by Stackpole Books, will be released on September 1, 2010.

Any reader of The Paranomalist blog will, of course, know of famed cryptozoologist Loren Coleman. Mr. Coleman has over four decades of both field and scholarly research in the areas of cryptozoology and folklore, and writes regularly on Cryptomundo.com. He is also the author of numerous books on the subject of cryptids, mystery animals, and sightings of unexplained creatures and phenomena.

Bruce G. Hallenbeck is an author and film director, having co-authored Monsters of the Northwoods, and written and directed such films as  The Edge of Reality, Vampyre, and Blood of the Werewolf, among many others.

Are there monsters in NJ?

The subject of cryptids and mysterious animals has long been a passionate interest of mine, and I’m especially captivated by any reports of sightings and encounters here in my beloved home state of New Jersey.

The Garden State is undeniably one of many contrasts and mysteries. At the time when the first European settlers arrived, New Jersey had long been the home of the Lenni Lenape Native American people. According to Lenape legend, the dense wilderness which covers over a million acres in southern NJ that we now know as the Pinelands was home of the Mahtantu, a destructive, evil being that the Lenape associated with the Devil. This belief far predates the legend of “Mother Leeds” giving birth to her thirteenth child, which transformed into the Jersey Devil, the horned and winged beast of the Pinelands.

The Wematekan’is, the Little People of NJ

Every culture throughout the world has for millennia told of various types of small humanoids, and Native American folklore is no exception. Lenni Lenape folklore tells also of a race of diminutive beings who dwelt in the forests, which they called the Wematekan’is. Typical of the legends of these little people that are found throughout cultures worldwide, the Wematekan’is were said to be shy and wary of humans. When the Wematekan’is would occasionally interact with the Lenape people, they often played mischievous pranks on the unsuspecting Big Folk.

I find it interesting how these legends echo those told to me by my grandmother of the tomtegubbe or tomtar, the little people of her native Sweden — a land 4,000 miles removed from the Lenape’s.

Since writing my article A Gnome by Any Other Name, I’ve received several emails each week from people (a number of them New Jersey residents) who claim to have encountered small human-like creatures. Could there be a connection between these reports and the old Native American and European tales of gnomes and other tiny humanoids? Could such a race have existed at one time, and still remain in the more remote regions of the world — and in the state of New Jersey?

A state too populated for unknown creatures?

I realize that it’s difficult for most people, especially those unfamiliar with New Jersey, to think that there are any “remote” regions left in such a highly populated area of the USA. To these people, I would counter that they’ve likely never hiked and camped the vast, sparsely inhabited NJ Pinelands that cover over 1.1 million acres of the state. Nor have they spent time in the deep woods and mountains of the northwestern Highlands region. The fact is, most of New Jersey’s population density is concentrated in it’s few major cities and the suburbs of New York City and Philadelphia. Trust a native of the state when I say that there are a great many remote and wild areas of New Jersey.

Big Red Eye, New Jersey’s own Bigfoot

Big Red Eye, NJ Bigfoot

Big Red Eye, NJ Bigfoot

What? A Garden State Sasquatch? Ridiculous! This was my initial reaction when my very shaken wife told me of the unearthly screams and yowls that she heard while camping with her seventh-grade students in Stokes State Forest.

She went on to tell me that a NJ State Trooper, in response to her inquiry as to the nature of the horrifying sounds that were emanating from the surrounding forest, replied in a very grave but level tone of voice, “there have been a lot of reports of Bigfoot sightings in the area recently.” If anyone would like to read it, I’ve recounted the full story in my article Bigfoot in New Jersey.

Naturally, this piqued my interest. The fact that my wife, who is very calm, levelheaded and has not the slightest interest in the strange and unexplained mysteries of life, was so visibly shaken held a lot of weight in my estimation, as did the police officer’s reaction. Upon further investigation, I found that reports of huge, hairy, hominoids were fairly commonplace in the northwestern part of the state, in Sussex and Warren Counties. This area of New Jersey is known as the Highlands region, and it is largely rural and mountainous, with large tracts of deep forest.

Having been raised in Bergen County in the northeast and just a few miles from New York City, I’d never heard of these tales at all, and always associated Bigfoot sightings with the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia. Naturally, I was shocked to learn that reports of sightings of these creatures are well known in the Highlands region that borders Pennsylvania and New York State. Bigfoot sightings are also frequently reported in Burlington County to the south, a county that holds much of the Pinelands National Reserve.

In the course of my research, I found that reports of these creatures are often accompanied by a fascinating physical characteristic: they are usually said to have glowing red eyes. Thus, New Jersey’s own Sasquatch became known to the local inhabitants as “Big Red Eye”.

I recently corresponded with a reporter formerly with a Sussex County-based newspaper and she confirmed what I’d learned earlier, that reports of Big Red Eye sightings and encounters are well-known to the people native to northwest Jersey. Like me, she explained, being raised in the northeastern part of NJ, she had never heard of this until she moved to Sussex County to work for the newspaper.

She went on to say that the newspaper had a “large file of these reports” dating back to the early 1970s, but they rarely published them. Also, she told me that the state troopers at the local barracks (she asked me not to reveal which) were fully aware of the beast’s existence — although the police understandably refuse to go on record about their knowledge of Big Red Eye’s existence. This lends support to my wife’s claim that the trooper said in such a serious and matter-of-fact tone that “there have been a lot of Bigfoot reports in the area recently”. Yet, could a creature as large as Big Red Eye live in such a populated state as New Jersey? That’s something I’ve pondered in other articles, but we may never have a clear answer to this question.

The *REAL* reason to buy ‘Monsters of New Jersey’!

I had the great pleasure and honor to have been contacted by Monsters of New Jersey co-author Bruce G. Hallenbeck regarding some of the articles that I wrote here on The Paranomalist blog. Bruce and I corresponded by email and spoke on the telephone about what I know of local New Jersey legends and creatures. I promised to give him some assistance in researching the Hoboken Monkey-Man and the Lake Hopatcong Monster, but I unfortunately proved to be of little help. Other than the odd Internet article, I simply could not find much information about these creatures.

Nonetheless, Bruce asked if he could cite my blog and a couple of its articles, and I was only too flattered to agree. I’m not entirely sure what articles from my blog are to be included and what is not, although my wife’s account of the unearthly screams that she heard in Stokes State Forest may be among them. Whatever blog posts that Mr. Coleman and Mr. Hallenbeck have decided to reference, I’m happy to have been able to contribute. I’m told also that The Paranomalist blog will be cited, which is also a genuine thrill — and I don’t mind the free publicity, let me tell you! Regardless of the publicity however, I was excited to have been asked my opinion and glad to help in any small way that I could.

Also cited is the work of Drew Vics of the New Jersey Bigfoot Reporting Center, with whom I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing on the old Paranomalists podcast show.

In addition to Big Red Eye and the Jersey Devil, Monsters of New Jersey will also cover other Garden State cryptids, such as:

  • Wooo-wooo (I don’t know what that is)
  • Hoboken Monkey-Man
  • Big Cats
  • Cape May Sea Serpent
  • Lake Hopatcong Monster
  • Lizardman of Great Meadows

I’ll admit, I’ve heard of most of these (except the Wooo-wooo), but I don’t know much about them — which is all the more reason to read the book! I’m looking forward to reading Monsters of New Jersey and reviewing it on The Paranomalist in the near future.

Thanks again to Bruce and to Loren for contacting me, and if they do a book signing at the Paramus NJ Barnes & Noble or at Bookends in Ridgewood NJ, I’ll be there! Heck, I’ll drive even further than that!

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0149327/
The Author: John Carlson

John Carlson has had a long-standing interests in all things strange and spiritual and has interviewed many noted writers and lecturers of the paranormal and in the field of cryptozoology. John also runs a professional web site design and consulting company, Carlson Web Design, LLC, and resides with his wife and two sons in the great state of New Jersey. When not working on web sites or being being a dad and husband, he tries to write as often as he can on this blog.

44 Responses to “ Monsters of New Jersey! ”

  1. Hey John! I live in Nj, in Somerset County, and ahve hiked all over this state…The photos I’ve taken, the things i’ve seen! It is amazing! There really is a lot to see, and to explore. People jsut do not realzie that NJ has so much wildland left untouched. I myself ahve found weird and strange things, humanoid footprints and everything! I am Portuguese, and have traveled in Europe /9including Portugal), and have seen amazing wild areas. However, few places take my breath away like the forests and mountains of NJ. :P I love your site!

  2. Thanks, David! Yes, I agree — people who don’t know New Jersey generally have a poor image of it, and few people realize how much of it is heavily forested. It really is a beautiful state. I went to college in New England, and people were always telling me that NJ was a dump (which I didn’t take very kindly to). I think that impression often comes from people passing through the state via the NJ Turnpike. There’s no denying that the area opposite Staten Island where all the chemical factories are situated in Linden and Carteret really does reek — and is ugly as well — and that doesn’t help the state’s image much.

    When I retire, I’d like to move a couple hours south, maybe to southern Ocean County or Atlantic County, further from New York City where it’s less congested. I grew up here in Bergen County and I love it, but I’d like a change of scenery and a more rural setting — and less traffic! Also, those areas are close to the Jersey shore (which appeals to my wife) and also close to the Pine Barrens, which is my thing. If I was on my own, I’d probably live in a cabin right in the middle of the Pines. I may even look into buying some land out there and building a little cabin in the woods. Northwestern NJ is gorgeous area too. And of course, the further you get away from NYC, the less expensive things get.

  3. Interesting, I’m a bit of a skeptic but if these creatures like ‘Big Red Eye’ are real and they have eyes that glow in the dark that would more rule out them being related to Haplarhine Primates such as humans and great apes which don’t have a Tapetum lucidum allowing for light reflection in their eyes at night. I believe the only primates that have this feature are Strepsirrhine Primates like Lemurs of Madagascar which hunt their food at night.

  4. Google Tapetum Lucidum for an expanation of animals who’s eye retina’s
    reflect light at night,
    This is a common feature in dogs and wolves, it’s just about non existant in humans and great apes exceptions being if one has a cataract or cancerous growth in their eye which could then allow for light reflection at night in the retina.

  5. Chazz: When I first heard of this physical characteristic I thought it was very interesting too. I can’t say that I’ve heard of it in other Bigfoot cases outside of New Jersey. It doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense, but the red eyes are a feature that’s often reported.

  6. Just got the book from Amazon and can’t put it down. Being from NJ (central then northern Jersey) I am familiar with all the locations in the book. Most people are unaware that NJ has some very wild and remote areas (Sussex County and the entire Pine Barrens) because all they see is the refineriess along the Turnpike.

    But back to the point, read “Monsters of New Jersey” and it’s companion book “Monsters of Pennsylvania.” I believe there are books for other states as well. These books are full of information regarding the subject and reports of sightings. Well worth the price of purchase.

  7. Stackpole Books published both Monsters of New Jersey and Monsters of Pennsylvania.

    Yes Randy, I definitely agree with you about the skewed impression that out-of-staters have, particularly those traveling through New Jersey by way of the Turnpike. The refineries and stench in that area opposite Staten Island is really nasty, and not representative of our beautiful state and all of the many miles of wilderness that it contains. I went to college in New England and almost got into fistfights on a few occasions with people who kept insisting to me that New Jersey was one big dump. There’s a lot more to NJ than refineries and chemical factories.

  8. And your college buddies probably were puzzled why you didn’t say call it “New Joisey…” LOL. Although I was born and raised in Menlo Park/Fords and DON’T have the Jersey City/Hoboken accent people I meet can tell exactly what part of the Garden State I’m from. BTW, I live in Florida now.

  9. “New Joisey” is something that only out-of-staters say. If you hear some say that, they’re not from New Jersey. At least I’ve never once heard anyone from Jersey say “Joisey”.

    Jersey accents are very different, depending on where you grew up in the state. I’m from the northeastern area, about 20 miles from New York City, so you definitely hear the New York accent from people around these parts. I was in a diner down in Cape May and a couple of fisherman were talking in the booth next to me. These guys had a thick, kind of southern drawl and I could barely understand them. The people and the geography varies so much in this little state of ours — one of things I love about New Jersey.

  10. I grew up in Martinsville, NJ, a small town in Somerset County. Back then, the area was not as populated as it is now. My friend and I would walk to a small pond near our home that was in a remote area to ice skate in the winter (as kids). One time, we saw HUGE footprints in the snow. It was like a barefoot, but very long and wide. It went from the dirt road to the pond, which was covered in ice. The stride was very long as well. We were both of sound mind then, and now. I know what I saw and think of it often. She is now an attorney and I own a store in FL. I haven’t had a chance to read your book, but wonder if you have had any other reports from that area that meet that description.

  11. Hi Carol. Yes, I received a couple of emails from a gentleman named David Couto who lives in Somerset County, NJ. His is the first comment that appears in the Monsters of New Jersey article. He has seen large bare footprints in Washington Valley Park in Somerset County. Is that anywhere near where you saw the footprints that you describe?

    Btw, it’s not really my book (as much as I’d like to say it is), but I was contacted by one of the author, Bruce Hallenbeck, and I was quoted in it. I attempted to assist them with some research, but I’m afraid I wasn’t much help on that end. Cool to be quoted in a book though!

    Thanks for submitting this — very interesting! Let me know if you have any other strange sightings or experiences. I’d love to hear about them.

  12. Oh, yes. It is in the same town (Martinsville). The Washington Valley Park, as it is now called, contains the “reservoir”, another body of water where we used to skate in the winter. It was within walking distance of our homes on Mt. Horeb Rd. I recall those eery footprints often, and wonder what made them. I remember the vision of them as if it were yesterday.

    How interesting….

  13. Yes, that is very interesting that you’ve described something similar to what David related. I’ll have to let him know!

  14. I am willing to bet my bottom dollar that this area is perhaps part of a migratory route for bigfoots in the state. After all, all these forested areas connect to the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, which eventually connect to the NJ highlands, both areas of which are hotspots for bigfoot sightings. I know I found footprints and other evidence which left me pondering quite a lot! This animal seems to be smarter than the smartest creature alive: man.

  15. David — I’m starting to believe in the migratory Bigfoot theory as well. When I interviewed Drew Vics a few years ago he suggested that, and I think he is correct. Good to hear from you!

  16. not true

  17. They’re not migratory, or “not true” to all of it?

  18. Here’s something weird. My friends and I were were doing some late night off roading last fall(2010) and going pretty slow through a trail in chatsworth. We were in deep woods that surrounded his farm when out of the corner of his headight path we saw this little monkey like creature drop down out of a tree and take off into the brush. I really only caught the silhoutte of its’ backside as it came down out of the tree but its arms were proportionately larger than its legs, like a stout little chimp looking thing. Needless to say I’ve never seen anything quite like it and haven’t since. We do continue to look for it when we go 4 wheeling and always bring a camera just in case.

  19. Mike — Definitely weird! That’s the first report I’ve gotten of a chimp-like creature in New Jersey. The first thought that comes to mind is the possibility of someone having a pet chimp or one having escaped from a zoo, rather than it being a native species that’s as yet undiscovered (i.e., a cryptid) or something supernatural. Just looked this up and I found that in New Jersey “…it is illegal to own chimpanzees as pet, but commercial exhibitors are allowed to own chimps for business purposes as long as they have an exhibitor’s permit and a USDA exhibitor’s license.”. Still, this seems highly unusual.

  20. Hey John, recently my friends were traveling down a trail in the Loveless nature preserve in Lawrenceville NJ at dusk when they saw a creature walk across the trail in front of them. At first glance they thought it was a deer but after a double take the realized it had a body like a mountain lion tail and everything! But its head looked like a deer and the body had some type of stripes on it. after this they were frightened and fled the area. A few days later my friend returned and spotted it again deeper into the preserve. The odd thing is when me and another of my friends talked to other people about it they admitted to seeing the same type of thing on the preserve, But they chose to keep it quiet.

  21. Mikie — Wow, that’s an interesting one. There was a mountain lion sighting in Connecticut recent — in fact the poor thing was struck and killed by a car. If you haven’t heard about it, you can read the story here. So despite the fact that the Eastern Mountain Lion has been declared officially to be extinct, here we have another example of an unusual animal, thought to be extinct, turning up in a highly populated area.

    I received an email last week from someone who said they were driving in Monmouth County NJ and saw an unusual animal crossing the road. She said it was cat-like, but more the size of a domestic cat rather than a mountain lion. The interesting thing is, she said it had an elongated face, “like a pony’ (I haven’t made this report public before now, for any the information of anyone reading this). And here you are describing something with a feline body and deer-like head. Fascinating similarity. Please let me know if you hear of any other reports of this critter. Thanks for letting me know about this.

  22. wow that article is interesting as well as the other sighting in new jersey! i will defenetly let you know about any other sightings i uncover info about from locals. Thanks for the information

  23. read your book totally awesome new twists and angles of our great states creatures love the references to weird nj as me and my family are huge fans a great read and informative is there a map of sightings that can be printed with sightings of the different things if so drop me a line . thx – adam charman

  24. [email protected] in case email doesnt show up on the comment box

  25. Thanks, Adam. I wish I could say it was “my book”, but I’m only mentioned in it. It was written by Loren Coleman and Bruce Hallenbeck. Glad you enjoyed it though. I know I did.

  26. The Cape May Sea Serpent washed ashore in 1921 was a baleen whale. The (nearly) complete history: http://www.kryptozoologie-online.de/Dracontologie/Salzwasserkryptide/cape-may-globster-1921/Page-2.html.

  27. Thanks for the link, Markus. Good article.

  28. do not harm a monster, alien, or creature even a human being they have rights and they know were you live.remember they have mothers too.you must be responsible for your actions so do they.study and buy mr. john carlsons book.

  29. Amen, Nicholas! I personally, would never harm a monster, alien, or creature. There have been a few human beings that I’ve wanted to harm, but I exercised self-control and refrained from doing so. And as much as I’d like to take credit for the book, it’s actually Loren Coleman’s and Bruce Hallenbeck’s. I’m only quoted in it. Quite a thrill to be even a small part of it, however. Thanks for your comments! — John

  30. http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2013/08/02/mystery-creature-sighting-stuns-n-j-town-no-one-has-first-clue-what-it-is/

    Did u see this strange creature? What is it???

  31. Hey Marilyn – Thanks for sharing that link! No, I hadn’t read about that at all. Spotted in my hometown of Ridgewood, NJ too! It is strange looking, but my guess is some kind of coyote or fox. It almost looks like a hybrid of the too species. Weird! Thanks again. I’m going to post this on The Paranomalist Facebook page.

  32. Very interesting. I can remember seeing something similar to Big Red Eye around 6 years ago. It was winter and I was with a friend at a ranch. It was in a tree and looked like an albino gorilla. It had white fur and a black face. I pointed at it to my friend and he didn’t see it at first but when he saw it he was also shocked. It looked fake because it wasn’t moving. However, when his sister came down on a horse she was going to go and see what it was but the horse would not move. Whatever it was the horse was scared of it and so was I. All three of us continued to watch it as it sat there. We were trying to hide the best we can but we saw it turn it’s head in our direction and it got out of the tree. It was getting to be dark by that time and you could tell it had some sort of glowing eyes like a raccoon but a different color. We were too scared to continue watching and we went back to the stables with the horse and left. Whatever it was it was definitely scary.

  33. Collin — Where did this sighting take place (country, state/province)? Just curious. Thanks for contributing your encounter. — John

  34. It happened in the United States, New Jersey.

  35. John buddy and myself riding MC’s about 11:30 hot summer night. We came up on a green fog only in a small area it was coming across the rd. like someone was blowing it with a fan. At the time no homes or shops or anything was in the area. We stoped the bikes with lights on fog we seen something moving across the rd. it was walking on 2 legs it stopped looked at us for a few seconds and continued across the rd. This was some time ago we are still friends and were just recently talking about that night.
    Also I have spent many many nights camping in the woods all over south jersey by my self a lot. I have heard things but never say anything like that night. Just thought it was a good story.

  36. Andy — Did this take place in the Pine Barrens or in some other part of Jersey? Can you give me an approximate location? Thanks! — John

  37. John not far from the barrens place called English Creek off zion rd. It was all woods back then has been built up now.

  38. Sorry john it is in egg harbor township near somer point nj. By the way still camp a lot and always out looking for that thing that U know is out there. I have 1000’s acres in my front yard including the mysterious blue hole but still have never seen much.

  39. John,
    Also back in mid 60’s not sure what yr. it was we had just moved to Jersey Guessing I was about 6 or 7 we lived in old farm house off Indian Cabin Rd. not far from Batsto Church. My mom & aunt liked to go to bingo and I beleive we went to a local firehouse that night. Us kids would go with them we pulled up in the lot got out walking to building and (((Boom))) the sky lit up. I remember watching this event in the sky for about 20 mins. Was a lot of people there also watching. I remember it looked like 2 round balls or circles attached by something in between them. Next day in the Press of AC was an artical saying it was a Russan craft that had burned up in space. Dont know if you would remember this or not By the way it was dark did not look like explosion. Good Luck!!

  40. Do you know the story of the Black Knight satellite ???

  41. No, never heard of that one. Please share if you’d like!

    Regarding your earlier comments (sorry for not getting back to you sooner), I’ve had a couple of creature sightings just north of yours, on Great Creek Road in Galloway, NJ. Thanks, Andy.

  42. BKS was a story my dad told me and stayed with me nothing important. Good luck with your hunts maybe run into you in the woods sometime.

  43. Well John here is something new Sunday night 10pm fireball flys over my house flames coming off it minet later helicopter same direction then another heliocopter just hovering west of my house. HAve you herd anything ? I googled meteor over williamstown nj several sightings nothing on news.

  44. I Know Sasquatch is also in New Jersey!When I was a teen in Westfield,there is two medium parks. With Woods between them.I use to walk the trail&i first had Rocks whiped by me,but not see anybody in woods or anybody in park near woods was in The next number of times on trail would see large Dark figure walking up trail as I walked towards it it got Larger&iwould leave trail in fear.Then this one Early Moring After Rain night before I headed towards trail I would enter from,but I smelled what I thought was a skunk,so I backtracked&cut through these bushes on broken hill trail&out of corner of Left eye saw this Giant Black figure covered in Black Hair,Long Arms reaching for something on a tree!No Bear like ears or Muzzle like a bear&my body froze,Cold chill ran up my spine,felt the hair on back of neck&hair on head stood up!After few minutes my body unfroze&i slowly backed up as watched creature out of corner of my eye as slowly backed out of bushes&i ran home up to room still in wet sand covered sneakers from ballfield by woods where had entered. Jumped in bed&Covered up still shaking in fear&didn’t return to woods for years,but in related note friend use to play streethockey &in summertime use to see Hobo around street,&one night two buddies went into connecting woods leading to park&releaved themselves but when they came out of woods they thought was hobo watching them but they mentioned seeing two Big Red Eyes&so I was able to figure out between all wild animal&Bigfoot movies,Tv shows&documentaries,that it was a Sasquatch in those Woods by these items alone 1# Rock throwing,#2 seeing that creature many times,3#friends mentioning thoseBig Red eyes&That Morning Encounter Had!!!!!

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