Urban Legends, From Vampires and Hauntings to Cockroaches and Laxatives!

Continuing our state-to-state urban legends tour: Internet Scambusters #458

We’re back on the road with our urban legends tour of the US
this week, visiting California, Colorado, Connecticut and

Is there a real Hotel California, as featured in a famous rock
anthem? Or a mystery behind the construction of Denver
Airport? Or a Connecticut animal that screams like a woman
being attacked?

We have all the answers — and more — in this round-up.

But first, we urge you to take a look at these top articles
from our other websites:

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Man Bites Shark: A Delicious Barbecued Shark Recipe: Try this awesome barbecued shark recipe for the best way to prepare it.

And now for the main feature…

Urban Legends, From Vampires and Hauntings to Cockroaches and Laxatives!

Our alphabetical, state-by-state tour of American urban
legends takes us to California, Colorado, Connecticut and
Delaware this week.

In this occasional series, we spotlight some of the best-known
or unusual urban legend stories, though obviously we can’t
cover them all — since there are possibly thousands.

When we find firm evidence that stories are true or untrue, we
say so. But most urban legends persist precisely because
evidence is lacking.

That doesn’t mean we believe them — we just leave you to make
up your own mind.

Also, we find that many urban myths show up in more than one
state, and that yet others come in numerous variations. So you
may know of a different version.

Now, let’s hit the road.

California Urban Legends

It’s not in California but it’s probably one of the most
famous urban legends about the name: The Hotel California
featured in the famous song of the same name by rock band The
Eagles is supposedly located in Baja California, Mexico.

Earlier this year, Scambuster Keith joined the throngs of
tourists who regularly visit this establishment in the
southern Baja town of Todos Santos.

He says it exudes all the mystery evoked by the song and
clearly enjoys the commercial benefits of visitor curiosity,
but the Hotel California makes no claim itself about being the
inspiration for the song.

Which is just as well, since musician Don Henley, who penned
it, later said the song was a figment of his imagination and
wasn’t based on a real Hotel California, either in Baja, or
(in another variation), a former hotel in Norco, California,
that became a state prison.

Nor, for the record, says Henley, was the song about black
magic — also a common urban legend story.

Read more about this urban myth and see Henley’s denial at Hotel California, Tequila, Todos Santos and the Eagles.

Another figment of someone’s imagination is the gruesome urban
legend about a California woman who gets a cockroach growing
inside her tongue after licking an envelope infested with
cockroach eggs.

Impossible as well as untrue; but it’s the subject of various
“pass-it-on” emails that no-doubt have boosted the sale of
self-seal envelopes!

This story is also a variant of other untrue urban legends
about the glue on certain ATM envelopes containing cyanide!

You can read about that and other urban legends at the
Scambusters Urban Legends and Hoaxes Resource Center.

California, notably the state’s northwest corner, also is
probably the source of the most sightings of “Bigfoot,” the
supposed human-like, furry creature that inhabits remote

Hundreds of sightings have been reported.

We’re not going to stick our necks out and say whether this
particular urban legend is true or not, although there have
been several proven hoaxes based on it.

But we can tell you that he (or she!) pops up in just about
every state. There’s even a website that provides a
state-by-state breakdown of Bigfoot sightings.

Colorado Urban Legends

In addition to at least two-dozen of its own Bigfoot
sightings, the state of Colorado was also the alleged location
of the discovery of a miniature dinosaur, shown in what is
believed to have been a doctored 19th century photograph of a
cowboy or hunter who shot the mini-beast.

Full-sized versions of these creatures did roam North America
in prehistoric times but the 2010 story of a more recent
descendant has been dismissed as a hoax.

Most people feel the same way about the suggestion that a
grave in Lafayette, Colorado, contains the remains of a human
vampire, supposedly a Transylvanian named Fodor Glava.

The grave certainly exists, and so did old Glava. Out of the
gravesite, though, springs a tree which, locals say, grows
roughly where a stake driven through the vampire’s heart would
be located.

And, of course, there have been numerous sightings of him
sitting on top of his gravestone.

But, according to Pam Grout, author of Colorado Curiosities,
Glava was most likely a regular, old Romanian immigrant who
died during a 1918 flu epidemic.

More here at RoadsideAmerica’s Vampire Grave.

Other haunting Colorado urban legends include Ghost Bridge or
Third Bridge, a remote location at Kiowa Creek outside of

It was supposedly the location of all sorts of gruesome events
from car accidents to Indian massacres, and visitors allegedly
can hear the spooky sounds of drum beats, horse hooves and
squealing tires.

Not too far away, conspiracy theorists promote a modern-day
urban legend about Denver Airport, suggesting it has all sorts
of mystery underground rooms and strange symbols that
supposedly confirm it as a key location for a shadowy group
planning a world revolution.

Although the features all have rational explanations, the
urban legend persists. Read about it at The Denver Airport Conspiracy.

Connecticut Urban Legends

Ghostly goings-on provide the focus for many New England
urban legends of Connecticut. In fact, there’s a whole
book full of them — Spooky New England by S.E. Schlosser.

Most famous is the story of the Black Dog of Hanging Hills —
a creature that supposedly shows up out of nowhere and tags
along with hikers who then suffer a fatal walking accident.

A real animal that has become the subject of urban legends in
Connecticut is the fisher cat, which is actually a
forest-living relative of the bushy-tailed martens, wolverines
and minks.

Source of the legends is the animal’s bloodcurdling cry which
is imaginatively described as sounding like “a screaming woman
being murdered.” If you hear it, so the legend goes, terror
lurks ahead.

Get the full story at Beware the Fisher Cat.

Finally, how boring would student life be if there weren’t a
clutch of urban legends to accompany every college in the

We picked up three from the University of Connecticut: Dining
hall food contains a laxative; scores of dogs with the same
name as the college mascot (Jonathan) are buried in the
school’s gardens; and more than half of the students have the
same disease arising from intimate relationships.

Happily, there’s no evidence for any of these.

Delaware Urban Legends

It may only be small, but the state of Delaware has its fair
share of urban legends including a haunted Governor’s Mansion
and, harking back to those college tall tales, an unfounded
legend that the University of Delaware makes the Top 10 list
of campus party venues!

The state was allegedly also the location of one of those
weird litigation stories, in which a local woman supposedly
won damages for injuries suffered when she fell while trying
to climb through a nightclub window to skip paying the entry

The tale pops up as a claimed entry for the well-known Stella
Awards, which list outrageous lawsuits. The awards were named
for the case of Stella Liebeck who sued a fast-food chain
after allegedly spilling their hot coffee in her lap.

But the award organizers say the Delaware nightclub story is

Check out The Stella Awards for more true and not-so-true stories.

That’s a wrap for this latest round-up of state-by-state urban
legends. Mostly, they make us smile — life would be duller
without them.

But, as always, one of the side benefits of learning about
urban legends is to encourage skepticism — a key weapon in
the fight against hoaxes and scams.

That’s all we have for today, but we’ll be back next week with
another issue. See you then!