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The Broad Top Serpent is a large snake of indeterminate species associated with the Broad Top Borough area of Huntingdon County in central Pennsylvania, and also with more famous areas such as Gettysburg. In historical accounts, it is also called the Broad Top Snake, Round Top Snake, or Devil Snake.

Sightings[]

The Broad Top Serpent has been sighted since at least the 1830s, with accounts appearing in newspapers, and the legend is said to go back even further.

An account by Emanuel Bushman claims that his brother and six other people witnessed a "devil snake" in April 1833, on what was then called Big Round Top.

Various accounts of a "devil snake" in Gettysburg place the creature in a boulder field called Devil's Den, and some have suggested the snake may have given the area its name even before the Battle of Gettysburg.

An excerpt from the January 23, 1932 issue of the Gettysburg Times states:

"In September, 1881, the shy black-snake of Round Top was seen by Hiram Warren, who states his length to be fifteen feet. For over a quarter of a century this reptile has been known to reside in this neighborhood."

It is worth noting that "black-snake" could refer to several known Pennsylvania snake species, probably either the northern racer or the eastern ratsnake.

An article titled "Snake Haunting Broad Top Area Draws Video Cameras" by Ron Morgan appears in the October 30, 1974 issue of the Tyrone Daily Herald and describes the snake as being forty feet long.

Vague legends from the 1800s describe the snake as being large enough to be mistaken for a log. Some stories even include an outdoorsman sitting on it by mistake, only realizing it wasn't a log when the snake began to move.

Most accounts seem to describe the snake as black or dark gray, sometimes with yellow markings. Its reported diet includes chickens, pigs, and domestic cats, similar to known examples of large invasive constrictor species in the Florida Everglades.

Possible Explanations[]

Obviously, the most likely explanation for modern sightings would be non-native species of large constrictors like boas or pythons. Although such species aren't adapted for cold Pennsylvanian winters, there are many caves and abandoned mines in the area which, theoretically, might allow a large reptile to overwinter without freezing to death, since the temperature inside remains fairly constant all year.

Historical sightings, if taken as honest accounts and not tall tales, are harder to explain. Even the largest native snakes in PA don't come anywhere near the reported sizes of the Broad Top Serpent. The eastern ratsnake, one of the biggest and most common, tops out at around 100 inches long. In fact, no snake native to North America reaches the lengths claimed for the Broad Top Snake, which is often cited as at least fifteen feet long.

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