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In the Maine woods? Beware the Tote Road Shagamaw, Billdad and Agropelter

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Long months spent harvesting lumber in the Maine woods could make anyone start to see things. At least, that seems to be what happened to many lumberjacks in the 19th and early 20th century in Maine and beyond — when you’re living in an isolated lumber camp, you’ve got to keep yourself entertained with tall tales and fantastic stories.

 

While some of those tales are rather innocuous, like Paul Bunyan and his blue ox, Babe, others take a decidedly more fearsome tone, with old stories from woodsmen telling of terrifying creatures inhabiting hidden corners of the forest. In Maine in particular, there are three creatures that loggers used to imagine stalked the woods, as documented in an entertaining 1910 publication, “Fearsome Creatures of the Lumberwoods: With a Few Desert and Mountain Beasts,” written by William T. Cox, with illustrations by Coert Du Bois.

 

Here are what Maine lumberjacks say they encountered in the woods. As you might expect, none of these have been reportedly seen since the early 20th century — at least, reportedly. If you have, in fact, seen any of these creatures, please, tell your friendly neighborhood BDN reporter. We’d love to know. 

Contributed photo
BEASTS OF MAINE LEGEND — The Tote Road Shagwmaw, the Billdad and the Agropelter were some of the fearsome, fantastic creatures lumberjacks say they saw in the Maine woods.

Tote Road Shagamaw

A name like Tote Road Shagamaw just sounds like it’s from Maine, doesn’t it? And, according to “Fearsome Creatures,” it’s a beast unique to Maine and New Brunswick. This puzzling creature reportedly had the front quarters of a bear, and the hindquarters of a moose. Even more oddly, lumberjacks claimed it would walk for a quarter-mile on its front legs, and then stop and switch to its hind legs for another quarter-mile. Loggers reasoned that the animal was unable to count above 440, which was how many of its steps it would take in a quarter-mile, hence its needs to switch legs every quarter-mile. While that logic is interesting, to say the least, it makes sense in a world where there are part-bear, part-moose hybrids stalking the woods. 

The Billdad

Boundary Pond, a remote body of water located in the far northwest corner of Franklin County, about 11 miles from Lac Megantic, Quebec, understandably doesn’t get a lot of human visitors. Lumberjacks supposedly believed, however, that if you heard something surfacing from beneath the water, it was almost certainly a Billdad. Yet another odd-looking animal, it’s about the size of a beaver, but looks more like a kangaroo with webbed feet and a hawk’s bill. According to “Fearsome Creatures,” it fishes from a perch on a rock, diving into the water for a fish to bring to the surface and stun with its tail. It can supposedly hop a whopping 60 yards in one bound, which is more than three times the length a kangaroo can jump. 

According to legend, a Billdad was killed on Boundary Pond and brought to a logging camp, where a cook made a slumgullion stew from it. The only person brave enough to eat it was a man named Bill Murphy from Ambajejus, who took one taste, bolted from the camp, hopped 50 yards into a nearby lake — much like the billdad itself — and drowned.  

Agropelter

By far the most fearsome of the three Maine beasts in the book, the Agropelter is not to be trifled with. Found in most of the northern woods of North America, this wiry, long-limbed creature looks more like an ape or monkey, with muscular, whip-like front arms that it uses to tear limbs from trees and hurl them at prey, or at unsuspecting loggers. It’s renowned for its incredible aim, and ability to bonk lumberjacks directly on the noggin — sometimes resulting in a goose egg, and sometimes resulting in death. According to legend, the Agropelter eats only owls and woodpeckers.

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