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Monsters of the Mountains

07/01/04 12:00AM By Joe Citro
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(Host) Commentator Joe Citro is here today with some more history of a strange creature sighted in the Bennington area.

(Citro) Not too long ago I did a commentary about the recent "Bigfoot" sightings near Bennington. Several reports appeared in the Bennington Banner; other newspapers picked them up; the story even made local TV news.

What happened was a number of people driving between Bennington and Manchester, on the highest elevation of Route 7, supposedly spotted a large hairy biped strolling along the highway near Glastenbury Mountain. >The thing is, everyone treated the story as if it were not only big news, but also some kind of recent, unexpected phenomenon.

The fact is, weird animal sightings have been business as usual in that area for centuries. Some folks even speculate about a relationship between the weird animals and a epidemic of human disappearances in the 1940s and 50s.

Well, I don't know about that, but just to expand the record a bit, here is one of the earliest reports of a sighting of the so-called "Bennington Monster." Again, it involves travelers and a roadway.

Until about 1850 a stage road ran from North Adams, Massachusetts up into Vermont along ridges of Woodford and Glastonbury mountains.

On one particular nighttime run the stage driver had to slow down when a sudden, heavy rainfall washed out large sections of the roadbed.

Eventually he was forced to a complete stop in the midst of the dark, wet wilderness.

Almost immediately his horses bucked and seemed to panic. The driver, fearing bobcat or bear, grabbed his rifle and climbed down. There on the damp ground, in the pale light of his lantern, he saw huge widely spaced imprints in the road. They were the biggest animal tracks he had ever seen. Something gigantic had passed by. And recently. . . or the heavy rain would have washed the tracks away.

Just as he was about to summon his four passengers for corroboration, the horses
reared and screamed in fear.

A savage, thunderous impact toppled the heavy wooden carriage.

Luckily unharmed, the driver and his terrified passengers huddled in fear as they watched two large glowing eyes staring at them from among the shadowy trees.

A huge beast, obscured by branches and darkness, bellowed loudly and tromped off into the night.

Understandably shaken, the five travelers continued on to Woodford and - just like their modern counterparts - told the story with some reluctance. I, on the other hand, tell it with great delight.

This is Joe Citro.

Novelist Joe Citro is a native Vermonter. He lives in Burlington.

Copyright 2004 Joseph A. Citro
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