The Werewolf of Werewolf Springs is a cryptid creature, always described as a werewolf, long reported roaming the wooded areas in and around Burns, Tennessee, as well as Montgomery Bell State Park of Dickson County.
Initial reports place it in the area in the time frame just before the American Civil War. Supposedly a pack/group/family of the creatures escaped from their cages while being transported on a circus train.
Encounters are rare, and thankfully, brief. Reports of unusual howling and snarling are sometimes noted in the area.
Sightings usually occur in very close proximity to a local cemetery, named Halls Cemetery; which over the years has acquired the nickname, Werewolf Spings.
The Werewolf of Werewolf Springs
Below are individual topics which relate directly to this cryptid. Each comprises and shares part of the legend of the Werewolf of Werewolf Springs. The details are presented in chapter style (in the form of tabs) so the reader may flip through each to learn about this cryptid and its history.
Most sightings convey the "typical" physical characteristics commonly associated with werewolves, though a few differ somewhat (see the "1973 Encounter" tab above).
The werewolf is almost always reported as standing upright, and walks bipedally (on its hind legs). It is rather tall, between 6 ft to 8 ft (1.8 m to 2.4 m) in stature.
It is often reported to be of large physical build, having a large chest/torso, and being very strong. An early encounter claims the creature broke down the wooden door of a local log cabin to attack the person inside.
Very few reports claim aggressive behavior. Most say that the creature is only confrontational; as though defensive of its territory. No recent sightings report any type of attack.
Some reports state that even though it walks and runs upright (like a man), it can run on all fours (like a wolf) when it needs to move quickly. Its speed on all fours is said to be incredibly fast, much faster than a wolf.
Due to continued sightings being reported over such an extended period of time (over 160 years), conjecture suggests that the werewolf may part of a multi-generational pack/family. Others believe the werewolf is supernatural in origin, perhaps being a demon or spirit.
There are no known reports of the werewolf being sighted by native Indians who inhabited the area prior to the 1850's.
NOTE: To date, NO reports of the Werewolf have described it as a Bigfoot or other ape-like cryptid. It has always been desribed as canine-human, not ape-human.
Every version of the tale of the Werewolf of Werewolf Springs places the beginnings of the legend in the 1850's. The legend itself came to be because of one very important area feature: the local railroad.
It is well known fact that in the years just prior to the American Civil War, local railways were in heavy use for all forms of shipping. Dependable roads were practically non-existent in many areas.
There were no paved roads. No governmental agencies existed to build and maintain roads in areas other than big cities. Small towns had roads only because their citizens took it upon themselves to build and maintain them by hand, using shovels and picks and other assorted hand tools.
Roadway conditions were at the mercy of the weather and repairs and maintenance were dependent upon their being people available (and willing) to repair them. Travel by roadway for most purposes was impractical.
Nothing remotely resembling the highway system we now enjoy would exist for almost 75 years in most towns.
Since practically all travel and shipping relied on trains, tens of thousands of miles of track had to be laid across the nation to allow trains to carry their cargo from town to town. Quite frequently, obstacles and hardships arose.
When the railroad companies were building the railway in this area in the 1830's, they encountered a very large hill with steep sides. After reviewing their options, it was deemed impossible for a train to climb such a steep hill, so laying track over the top of the hill would be useless. Digging a tunnel through the hillside would be too dangerous, too time consuming, and too expensive. Railway designers finally decided it would be easiest to just dig a valley through the hillside and continue to lay the track as usual.
The construction engineer who designed the project and oversaw its completion was named McNair, so the valley naturally became known as McNair Cut, because he "cut" through the hillside.
McNair Cut would come to play a pivotal role in the start of this legend.
Circus TrainThere are a few variations of the tale of the Werewolf of Werewolf Springs, but in general the story goes as follows:
Back in the 1850's, a train owned and operated by the Cornhogg Circus was traveling through Burns, Tennessee, bound for Nashville; where the circus was scheduled to perform in the coming days.
Some versions of the legend say that the train was in poor repair and broke down on the track, but most versions of the legend say there were problems with the rails of the train track itself. In those times of the 1800's, train track maintenance was difficult so the rails could very well have been faulty. Also, stories have circulated that the Union Army was sabotaging Southern railways in the years just prior to the Civil War.
Regardless of the exact cause, the train left the track in the area known as McNair Cut.
In the ensuing train wreck, box cars overturned and some spilled their cargo out onto the grounds around the tracks. Some animal cages broke open, of which, the cages containing the creatures which would become the legend of Werewolf Springs.
Some versions of the legend say that the train was carrying Wild Men from Borneo, which was a known circus sideshow attraction about that time.
Yet in reality, the Wild Men of Borneo were actually just two exceptional strong brothers who were dwarfs. They performed in famous circus owner P. T. Barnum's travelling freak show. They would not have been aboard the Cornhogg train.
So exactly WHAT was aboard the train is uncertain. Whatever these things were, they seemed to be part-animal and part-man. They were large and wild and difficult to control, and thus kept in cages at all times. It was said that they were incredibly strong and could easily harm anyone who was unfortunate enough to get too close to their cages.
Over the next day or so, circus employees, train personnel, and local townsfolk managed to capture all the escaped circus animals and returned them to the train, except the "Wild Men of Borneo", who were nowhere to be found.
Another train soon arrived to help, and after some makeshift repairs and reloading of the cargo; the train, its occupants, and its cargo were back enroute to their next booking. It was not long after this that sightings of creature began.
Immediately to the west of McNair's Cut is an expansive forested area; rich with small wild game, such as deer, rabbits, squirrels, and other such small prey. There are many streams, underground springs, and even a few lakes located here, as well as numerous underground caves.
This was the perfect place for a pack of wild carnivorous creaures to take up residence.
Amongst the wide and forested land west of McNair Cut, lay several farms, some owned by members of the Hall family. In 1854, the Halls established a family cemetery on a parcel of their farm land. Other families in the community: the Myatts, the Reeders, the Bakers, and others were also buried there; they were neighbors after all and some members of each family married through the 1800's. In time, the cemetery took its name from those who owned the land: Hall Cemetery.
Very near the cemetery runs a large stream, which leads back into the forested area, going into underground springs in places. Along the bank of the stream in a few locations are caves, probably carved by the running springs flowing up out of the ground.
These caves are said to be the hiding places of the Werewolves.
The caves aren't huge caverns, but instead, are more "room-sized". No one has mapped them out, nor determined if they are interconnected in some form or fashion.
Those that visit the cemetery, and the area surrounding it, say there's an uneasy presence which hangs omnipotently over the area. They say they hear strange noises, unlike those made by known animals in the area. Some have reported hearing frightening howls and strange growling sounds, very UNLIKE those made by ordinary dogs.
And thus, over the years, the cemetery itself has gained a nickname, based off of the streams and springs and water ways that run nearby, its unofficially named: Werewolf Springs.
Probably the most detailed of the sightings is this:
In Burns, Tennessee, during the summer of 1973, two children (a boy, age 8, and his step-sister, age 7) told their parents about seeing a 'dog-man' in their back yard.
According to the children, they were playing in their back yard when they noticed a very large dog-like creature exit the treeline near their house. It was almost hairless, was very thin and had exceptionally long legs for a dog-type animal. It walked on all fours.
As the children watched, it approached a compost pile used by the family for disposing of food waste, where it rummaged through the pile of scraps. It soon stood upright on its hind legs and used its front "legs" to dig into the pile. The children say that instead of having paws on its front legs, it had stubby hands with definitive and individual fingers. It dug into the pile, pulling out items, which it held up to its snout to smell. It ate some of the items it retrieved from the compost pile.
The children claim that the cryptid brought the food items directly to its mouth (like a person eating), and never lowered its snout down to the food items to eat (like a dog or wolf eats).
The children said they soon began whispering to each other about the creature and only at this time did the creature seem to realize that the children were present. It stared at them for a long moment, as if studying them.
They said it turned back towards the treeline, still standing upright; and ran away on its hind legs, in the same direction from which it came.
The children said they weren't frightened while it simply scavaged through the compost pile, but when it turned and looked directly at them, was when the encounter turned scary. Watching it as it ran away, upright and swinging its 'arms' back in forth, in opposition to its legs (how a person runs to maintain their balance) was also frightening.