Snallygaster, legendary beast from my neck of the woods in Maryland. Another cryptid from this region is the Dwayyo...not as well known as the Snallygaster, but just as terrifying to those who have encountered the creature.
The Dwayyo or Dewayo is a mammalian said to be hairy, have a bushy tail, and is sometimes bipedal. At times it has features similar to a wolf but with the arms, stance and stature of a human. The first mention of the name ‘Dwayyo’ comes from a sighting in 1944 from an area in Carroll County, Maryland. Witnesses heard the creature make ‘frightful screams’ and there were footprints attesting to the claims of the sighting.
The creature had first come to prominence after a story ran in the Fredrick News Post in November of 1965. Reporter George May wrote in the article, “Mysterious Dwayyo Loose in County” that a young man, named anonymously as ‘John Becker’ heard a strange noise in his backyard which was situated on the outskirts of Gambrill State Park. Upon going out to investigate the noise he initially saw nothing, so he headed back in. It was then that he caught site of the creature. Something was moving toward him in the dark, Becker was quoted that “It was as big as a bear, had long black hair, a bushy tail, and growled like a wolf or dog in anger.” The thing quickly moved toward him on its hind legs and began to attack him. He fought off the creature and drove it back into the woods, later calling police to report the incident.
In the summer of 1966, the creature was again sighted on the outskirts of Gambrill State Park. A man only referred to as ‘Jim A.’ encountered the Dwayyo as he was heading toward a camp site. It was described as a shaggy two legged creature the size of a deer that had a triangle shaped head with pointed ears and chin. It was dark brown in color and when approached it made a horrid scream and backed away from the man. Jim described it as having an odd walk as it retreated, it’s legs, “stuck out from the side of the trunk of the body making its movements appear almost spider-like as it backed away”.
In the Fall of 1976 another sighting of the Dwayyo took place in Fredrick County near Thurmont, between Cunningham Falls State Park and Catoctin Mountain National Park. Two men drove off route 77 and unto a private road so they could ‘spot deer’ by their headlights in order to see how thick the native population had become before deer season. To their surprise, they did not catch a deer in their lights but instead a large animal ran across the front of their car. They described the creature as, “at least 6 ft tall but inclined forward since it was moving quickly. Its head was fairly large and similar to the profile of a wolf. The body was covered in brown or brindle colored fur but the lower half had a striped pattern of noticeable darker and lighter banding. The forelegs (or arms) were slimmer and held out in front as it moved. The back legs were very muscled and thick similar to perhaps a kangaroo. This was not a hominid type creature; it did not have the characteristics of an ape. It was much more similar to a wolf or ferocious dog however it was definitely moving upright and appeared to be adapted for that type of mobility. I was particularly impressed by the size and strength of the back legs, the stripes on the lower half of the body and the canine-wolf-like head.” - from The Michigan Dogman: Werewolves and Other Unknown Canines Across the U.S.A. (Unexplained Presents)
Later in 1978 two park rangers were near the Cunningham Falls area when they encountered “a large hairy creature running on two legs”.
Paranormalist Robin Swope relates an anecdote from a witness who says she was driving on Coxey Brown Road near Myersville, Maryland late in the summer of 2009 when she had an strange feeling. It was as if she was being watched. The road was lined with trees, she was on the outer edge of Gambrill State Park, and the forest was beginning to grow thicker. According to her, as she turned on Hawbottom Road, where her friend lived, the feeling became overwhelming. The hairs on the back of her neck rose in terror as she sensed the unseen eyes upon her. She wanted to stop the car and take her breath, she was afraid that she would veer off the road and hit a tree because she her nerves were getting so unsteady that she began to shake. But she knew that whatever was watching her, and following her was out there, and she took what little comfort she had by being safer inside her rust rotted car. Still, to prevent a wreck, she slowed down as she headed south, and that was when she saw the creature.
At first it was a blur to the right of her periphery vision. Something that was moving through the trees, a shadow that flickered as it went in and out of sight on the edge of her vision. It was a brown smear of color that popped out in contrast to the dull dark grey trees that she passed.
Whatever it was, it bobbed through the underbrush and between the trees to keep pace with her car. She thinks at the time, she was going around 25 miles per hour. She then slowed down once more to take a good look to her right, and make sure that she was not seeing things. As her car slowed to a crawl, the brown blurry smear of color seemed to bound out of the woods closer to the road. With a massive leap the hazy color became flesh as a huge dog-like animal on two legs emerged from the foliage.
Then it leaped, arms outstretched with claws grasping the wind. Instinctively she stepped on her gas pedal with all her might. The squeal of her tires seemed as if her car too was screaming in horror at the thing that emerged from the dark looming forest.
She did not look back. She didn’t want to know if the thing was following her. She didn’t feel the eyes upon her anymore. She was too shaken to really feel anything at all. When she made it to her friends house, she sat in the driveway shaking as she looked around to make sure the creature had not followed her there. The house was also in the woods, at the opposite side of the State Park. When she felt safe, she made a mad dash for her friend’s door, and banged on it frantically.
He did not know what to make of her story. The witness knew he did not believe her. He had lived in the woods all his life, and had never encountered what she had seen. He assured her that it must have just been a dog, perhaps a rabid one at that. Her mind was playing tricks on her. But the young woman knew what she had seen that late summer day. It was no dog. It was something out of a horror movie come to life before her eyes. Though she told nobody what she felt it really was, she called it a werewolf. That is until after she did some research in the local college library and came up with the name that others had called it when they too saw the forest come alive. She had encountered the Dwayyo.
"The Dwayyo - The Dwayyo. From Ghosts and Legends of Frederick County" - Timothy L. Cannon and Nancy F. Whitmore
Frederick News Post
examiner.com - Pastor Robin Swope
Mysterious Creatures: A Guide to Cryptozoology, 2 Volume Set
Weird Maryland: Your Travel Guide to Maryland's Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets
The Michigan Dogman: Werewolves and Other Unknown Canines Across the U.S.A. (Unexplained Presents)