Located on the outskirts of Northfield, the place locals call the Devil’s Washbowl is a basin-shaped terrain of streams and caves full of fallen, moss-covered rocks. Some people might go there for a hike. Burlington’s Joe Citro went in search of Pigman.
And just who is Pigman? His story came to light more than a decade ago, when Citro was giving a talk in Northfield. A man by the name of Jeff Hatch stood up to ask if the intrepid local folklorist, author of several books about Vermont legends, had ever heard of a creature that terrorized his high school dance back in 1971. On that memorable night, a group of boys returned from a sandpit adjacent to the cemetery behind the school — where they’d stashed some beers — “scared and literally crying,” recalls Hatch. “They were really shook up.”
The whole group reported having seen a humanlike creature covered in white hair bound over the hill, kicking up sand. When Hatch and other partygoers followed the pack to the pit, “of course we didn’t see anything,” he says. Except for cloven markings in the sand.
Around this same time, Hatch says, “people’s dogs and cats started coming up missing.” One resident of Turkey Hill, a part of Paine Mountain, reported hearing something rattling around in his trash can. According to Hatch, the fellow expected to shoo away raccoons. Instead, when “the thing stood up it was all white and covered in hair.” Reports gathered by Hatch place the creature at somewhere between 5-foot-5 and 6 feet, with a pig like snout and beady eyes.
Around the time of the first Pigman sightings, rumor has it a fair-haired teenage boy disappeared from Darby Farm in Northfield. Some say he became Pigman, others that he became Pigman’s dinner. No one seems to have a name for him.
Is Pigman a monster, a farmboy gone feral, or a figment of country folks’ intoxicated imaginations? Whatever his status in reality, he’s one of the stars of Citro’s new book, The Vermont Monster Guide, which features illustrations by his longtime friend Steve Bissette. The book showcases 60 more bizarre beasts, and was conceived as a way for Citro and Bissette to collaborate for the first time since 2000’s The Vermont Ghost Guide.