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Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Winsted Wildman

By CATHERINE GUARNIERI of the Connecticut Register

It seems as though nearly every area of the world has their legend of some wild man-beast who likes to terrorize the locals. There is Bigfoot of the Pacific Northwest, the abominable snowman of parts north, the Yeti of the Himalayas.

For some reason these creatures seem to prefer the cooler climates… perhaps because they are so hairy? I can’t imagine what a sweaty Yeti must smell like. It can’t be good.

Imagine if one of those creatures did prefer a little warmer weather though, and decided Connecticut was a good spot. Not too cold, not too hot, and you can go to the beach too, and scare small children. One of these man-beasts just might have decided that he liked the area and settled in Winsted.

The Winsted Wild Man made his first documented appearance in August of 1895, when the Winsted Herald reported that then Selectman Riley Smith, while traveling to Colebrook, stopped along the road to pick blueberries, accompanied by his bulldog. The dog became frightened of something, and ran to Smith, whining and cowering.

A bit later, Smith related, an extra-large buck-nekkid man, covered with thick black hair jumped out of the bushes, yelling like crazy, and ran for the woods. Riley was understandably a tad disturbed by the interruption to his bucolic little trip. Apparently he never lived it down either.

The next documented appearance of the Wild Man didn’t occur until the 1970s, when two young men, Wayne Hall and David Chapman heard some very strange noises outside one morning in July 1972. Hall described it as a mix of frog and cat snarls and snorts.

The two men looked out the window in the direction of Crystal Lake, and in the dim light saw a large, furry, eight-foot tall “man” lope out of the woods, cross the road and head toward a barn. They watched the creature wander around the barn for a while, and then it crossed the road again, to disappear back in the woods. When asked if it might have been a bear, Chapman and Hall vehemently denied that possibility. They described it as big, hairy, walking upright and every once in a while it would scratch its head.

The creature was spotted again, two years later at Rugg Brook Reservoir, when some amorous couples had their soiree rudely interrupted by the large furry beast. The Wild Man allegedly rushed out of the forest and headed toward the car. Perhaps the foursome had been a little loud and disturbed his sleep. He appeared to be mighty angry.

This time the police were called in to investigate. When patrolman George Corso and one of the young men went back to the area to investigate no trace was found of the Wild Man.

So what exactly is the Wild Man of Winsted?

Is it some hairy mutant that survives on the fringe of society?

Is it an escaped gorilla?

A New England branch of the Bigfoot family?

Some guy in a gorilla suit?

Nobody knows for sure.

But if you’re one of the people that has seen the Winsted Wild Man, tell us your story.We may update this item at a later date with all the details.

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