Cryptids of Michigan


Everyone knows bigfoot: a six-to-10-foot manlike ape, covered with fur, frequently caught on still or video cameras as a blur. It’s been spotted pretty much anywhere in the world where there’s more than one tree on a patch of land, so that includes Michigan.

Also known colloquially as yeti, sasquatch, abominable snowman, skunk ape, yowie, Chinese Wildman or, myakka, bigfoot is surely the most heavily hoaxed cryptid. The creature often leaves behind super-sized footprints and, clumps of hair. Some reports have him emitting a foul odor described as a mixture of rotting oak stumps and wet moss.

Michigan Dogman

French explorers called it “loup garou.” To Native Americans, it was “wendigo.” To the rest of us, the Michigan dogman is pretty much your standard-issue werewolf like we’ve seen in such movies as “The Howling” or “American Werewolf in London”.

Legend has it, the Michigan dogman is an extra-large wolf, capable of rearing up on its hind legs to show off its humanoid torso, stare at you with blue or amber eyes, and unleash a frighteningly human scream. It was allegedly spotted for the first time in the late 19th century in Wexford County, where it terrorized residents and set up a local GOP headquarters.

This might be the state’s most famous mythical beast, thanks to Traverse City DJ Steve Cook, whose song “The Legend” reiterated tales from Northern Michigan lore about creeped-out hippies, farmers, and scratch marks that were left, like, real high up on wooden doors and such.


The Great Lakes are so big and deep, they just have to be home to giant mysterious serpents, populations of which would be difficult to sustain without large numbers and therefore we’d have more credible and consistent evidence of their existence, right? Right. Many large snakey-fishy things have been reported over the years, among them the Lake Leelanau Monster; the Sea Monster of the Mackinac Straits; Saggy, the Saginaw Bay beast; and Goober, the Kind Of Bigger Than Normal Worm Splashing in the Puddle in my Driveway.

The most famous of them all is the whale-tailed, horse-headed Pressie, a Lake Superior creature named such for the supposed sightings that occurred near the mouth of the Presque Isle River. A famous photograph of Pressie was taken in 1977, and it definitely is a blurry snapshot of something in the water.

Nain Rogue

This red devil-dwarf is a rare urban monster, allegedly Ides-of-Marching Detroit, appearing just prior to awful events. Nain Rouge lore stretches all the way back to the early 1700s, when the imp crossed the path of Detroit founder Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, who subsequently suffered great trouble and misfortune.

Described as a furry, hoofed baboon-like creature with red eyes, horns and nasty teeth, the Nain Rouge, according to folklore, showed his ugly face prior to the following: the Battle of Bloody Run in 1763; an 1805 fire that decimated the city; General William Hull’s surrender of the city to the French army in 1813; and the 1967 race riots. The li’l demon’s resume also includes multiple attacks on the populace, some of which gave 19th-century victims the vapours, scotomy and other miscellaneous spells or snits. Since 2010, Detroiters have organized a parade to unite the community against the Nain Rouge, and banish him from the city, even though the last sighting of the imp dates to a mildly drunken account in 1996.


Known in some circles as the Underwater Panther or Great Horned Water Lynx, Mishipeshu is a Native American legend, a manifestation of an evil spirit roaming Lake Superior. It existed to protect the U.P.’s “sacred” copper deposit, and was blamed for sinking ships laden with the metal

Pictographs of Mishipeshu have been found on rocks along the Lake Superior shore, depicting the creature as an unholy cross between a big, spiny iguana and a mountain lion, with antlers. He’s sometimes drawn next to a large serpent, leading many to believe Mishipeshu and Pressie were interacting on some level

The Ogre of Seney

This “monster” was actually a man, a U.P. maniac named P.K. “Snapjaw” Small, who lived in scenic Seney during the logging boom. He’d apparently do anything for whiskey money: bite the heads off birds and snakes, chow down on animal leavings, stick his face in the spittoon, etc. Allegedly, his nose had been bitten off – by the dogman?

The Giant Green Squirrel of Amble

Somewhere in Montcalm County is the town of Amble, Michigan, population approx. 16.7, home to a bar, a church, a cemetery and a legend – a legend of a squirrel so big, it towers over Amble’s tallest hill, and its chilling chitters echo through the canyons. It’s only seen at night, when the sky is darkest and the moon is thin like an almond sliver. Accounts of the creature’s size vary from as big as a very small cow to almost as big as Grandpa Ferd’s ’72 Buick hood ornament. Its eyes are either red or brown or yellow or blue or amber or coquelicot, depending on the witness. It is also green.

The Melon Heads of Allegan County

These four-foot-tall, bulbous-headed humanoids allegedly lurk in the woods near Holland’s Felt Mansion. According to stories that have been told, they’re hydrocephalic children who killed and ate the doctor who mistreated them, and now live in underground tunnels, occasionally emerging but never being photographed. The Melon Heads apparently have some cousins in Connecticut and Ohio.

Michigan Mermen

This cryptid is frequently linked to the Ojibwe legend of the Maymaygwashi (or Nebaunaubaewuk in some circles), hairy-faced child-sized humanoids dwelling in the rocks by Lake Superior. One sighting dating to the 18th century states that their lower half was scaly-tailed, and that a threat to their well-being resulted in a storm that battered travelers for three days.


This wolf-the-size-of-a-bear and evil spirit in American Indian lore manifests its scary self more often in northwest Canada and Alaska, but one colonial-era tale chronicles the deaths of three trappers in Northern Michigan, where they were savagely ravaged by a Waheela, which was possibly confused for a dogman. Some have declared the Waheela a leftover member of Amphicyonidae, the “bear dog” that went extinct during the Ice Age, 1.4 million years ago. Canadian legend states that Waheela have chomped the heads clean off human victims camping in the picturesque Nahanni National Park in the Northwest Territories; the place has been dubbed Headless Valley by natives.

Credit to John Serba for the research used on this page