Monsters of Pennsylvania
Patty A Wilson
Stackpole Books 2010 ISBN-13: 978-8117-3625-1
One of the advantages of having a multi-volume, multi-author series, is the differing styles in which they are written. Coleman and Hallenbeck write in a calm, almost detached, manner somewhat like field biologists recording data. Patty Wilson is much more like a traditional storyteller, recounting sightings like an author writing passages from a novel.
The monsters of the Keystone State are dominated by sasquatch with over half the book taken up by encounters with mystery primates. Wilson has cherry-picked the most dramatic and re-tells them with a flare that would make Stephen King proud.
Some of these encounters are standard (if one can ever use such a term when encountering a Bigfoot) sightings of what appears to be a yeti-like upright ape. Others have an element of ‘high strangeness’ including a man’s roadside encounter with an ape-like beast that seemed capable of teleportation.
Known Bigfoot but still humanoid creatures are reported within the state. One case sticks out in particular. The Ridge Road monster, reported in the late '60s, was described by witnesses as an emaciated giant with a skull-like face, glowing eyes and grey skin. The description sounds somewhat like the Algonquin India cannibal spirit the Wendigo. I am currently researching a book on the creature and have other sightings on record that sound much the same, some from as far south as Kentucky.
Known humanoid monsters in the book include eastern cougars, out-of-place panthers, giant snakes and the ever popular thunderbird. Also our old friend the Jersey Devil who seems just as changeable here as it does in New Jersey.
For a state with so many German immigrants in its history, it is no surprise that the werewolf raises its head in Pennsylvania. Some of the stories here are from colonial times but much harder to explain are modern-day sightings of bipedal, hairy creatures with wolf-like heads. Some of the most recent occurred around the campus of West Chester University. A student prank or something stranger?
Thus far Stackpole have given us two impressive titles. Let’s hope that the remaining states get treatment as impressive as these.