May 15, 2011

The Pigman of Northfield, Vermont

The time? 1971.

The place? A high school dance in picturesque Northfield, Vermont.

I'm sure you can imagine the scene. Crepe paper streamers, teens dancing to Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven", bell bottom jeans, mediocre orange punch. A scene of small town serenity.

However, small towns often have weird secrets, and Northfield's most shocking secret came to light that night when a group of students ran into the dance. They looked scared, and some of them were in tears.

They had been drinking beer in a sandpit behind the school, they said, when something strange came out of the woods. It was tall, naked, and covered in white hair. And although it walked on two legs, it had the face of a pig.

Whatever it was, it scared the hell out of the teens - they even abandoned the beer in their panic! Some of the braver students ventured out of the dance to investigate the sandpit. They didn't see the monster, but did find the grass and underbrush had been trampled down. Something had been there. And thus the Pigman appeared in Northfield.

Artist's rendering of the Pigman from Joseph Citro's Weird New England.

After the dance was disrupted, the locals made some strange connections. A farmer said he had seen a hideous naked figure rummaging through his trash a few nights earlier. More eerily, people remembered how a teenage boy disappeared from his family's farm six months ago. At the time authorities thought he had run away, but now people wondered if something more sinister had happened. Could he have been transformed into this strange monster? Or perhaps been eaten by it for dinner? A monster had to eat, and an awful lot of animals had gone missing recently...

The Pigman was seen in Northfield off and on for years, often around an area called the Devil's Washbowl. Motorists saw him run across the road, and teens who went to make out in the Washbowl sometimes had a surprise guest disrupt their romantic interlude.

Although the creature himself was somewhat elusive, physical evidence suggested he was real. A local man named Jeff Hatch and his friends found some caves near the Washbowl filled with animal bones, and found a similar stash of gnawed bones in the town's only pig farm. Strange cloven footprints were also found in the soft ground.

I don't know if we'll ever know who (or what) the Pigman is. The top two theories are that the missing teenage boy somehow devolved and became feral, or that some lonely farmer and a particularly friendly pig ... well, you know what I mean. I don't think genetics work that way, but try telling that to the teens in Northfield, who still get spooked at night when they go drinking out in the woods.

You can read more about the Pigman in books by Vermont author Joseph Citro, particularly Weird New England and Green Mountains, Dark Tales.


Wade Tarzia said...

Excellent! This legend ties into the social fucntion of some other legends, which I would classify as "the elders' revenge" -- the elders being the social norms of the local parental culture! Legends such as "Hook" punish young folk for drinking and amorous daliance on back roads and sand pits. This one is no different, but the local color is superb! --Wade Tarzia

Peter M. said...

Thanks for the comment Wade. This story also eminds me a lot of horror movies where drunken frisky teenagers are killed off after they enjoy themselves too much. I guess it's our Puritanical roots - you can't make out in the woods without a humanoid pig monster showing up!

Doug Lazorick said...

We need more folklore!

Peter M said...

I would love to post more about the Pigman, but there isn't too much more to say.I think the teenagers up in Northfield still talk about him, but I don't know if there have been any sightings.

Anonymous said...

it's worth noting that there are documented sightings of white bigfoot throughout New England and in Vermont specifically...