Like every state in the Union, Tennessee has its local legends, ranging from First Nations stories that predate the arrival of Europeans to the land to modern urban legends the likes of which reflect modern fears and unease. Among these legends are legends of local monsters. Given the centuries of human habitation in the state, as well as its colorful cultural legacy, it should come as no surprise that the mysterious creatures of Tennessee myth are as enthralling as the state they were sighted in.
The Tennessee Wildman is something of an enigma, even to people who are fascinated by monsters. In the McNairy County area, sightings of the Wildman began in the 1870s. These sightings describe a creature quite similar to a seven tall food man, yet also subtlety different. The creature is alleged to possess hair and a beard down to its waist as well as blazing red eyes and a body coated in dark gray or dark red hair. Described as incredibly strong and fast, this creature initially seemed to most often target the women of McNairy County, though if any of its attacks were successful, they have remained even more mysterious than the Wildman itself.
The White Screamer of White Bluff has never been seen, but the creature is the star of a particularly macabre tale dating back to the 1920s. As the story goes, a man built a farmhouse in a hollow near the small town of White Bluff. No sooner had his family of nine moved in then the family began hearing piercing, seemingly otherworldly screams that echoed across the hollow. One night, the father of the family followed the scream with the shotgun across the hollow, only to wind up back at his farm house where he heard the screams of his wife and seven children being torn to bits. Similar in some ways to the bean-sidhe (also transliterated as “banshee”) of Irish myth, many people have speculated that such a creature followed the state’s Irish immigrants across the Atlantic.
There is also the enigmatic Tennessee Terror. Sighted off and on since 1822, the Terror is described as a twenty-five-foot long sea serpent roaming the Tennessee River. Serpentine in shape and colored bluish yellow, the creature has been sighted ever since. Some have speculated that the creature is a gargantuan catfish, though no species that reaches that size have been found in the Tennessee River – yet.