Sunday, December 20, 2015

A call for Western Maryland weirdness

As an ongoing research project, I hope to compile an exhaustive list of Western Maryland weirdness. Whether it’s factual, fanciful or in dispute, I’d like to know about anything in Garrett, Allegany, Washington and Frederick counties that might qualify as unusual, unexpected, anomalous, paranormal or legendary. Categories of interest include, but are not limited to:
  • Odd roadside sights, attractions or tourist traps, current or historical.
  • Ghosts, apparitions, poltergeists and hauntings, in public or private locations.
  • Cryptids, mystery animals and varmints.
  • UFOs, will-o-the-wisps and ball lightning.
  • Portents, omens, premonitions and predictions that came true.
  • Unsolved or unusual crimes or disappearances.
  • Hoaxes, pranks, wild claims and public stunts.
  • Eccentric organizations, businesses, causes, political candidates and individuals (present company excepted).
  • Conspiracies, scandals and parapolitics.
  • Odd historical episodes, distinctions, personalities and artifacts.
  • Anomalous geographies, geologies, landscapes and ecosystems.
  • Buried or hidden treasures.
  • Cameo appearances by the famous or infamous, whether natives, transplants or travelers passing through.
  • Odd or controversial place names.
  • Unusual disasters, deaths and escapes.
  • Unusual epitaphs, gravestones, tombs or burial sites.
  • Unique buildings, structures, statues, monuments and markers.
  • Outsider and visionary artists and their built environments.
  • Unique rituals, holidays or customs.
  • Unexpected course offerings, academic researches or experiments.
  • Manias, crazes and mass hysterias.
  • Urban legends, modern myths and beliefs that ain’t so.
I also seek recommendations for books, websites, archives and experts who delve into such local things. I need, obviously, all the help I can get.

Please feel free to forward this to anyone who might have a tip, or a story to tell. In any eventual publications that arise from this research, I pledge to give credit wherever it’s due, though I will honor requests for anonymity provided I know who the informant is.

I also concede that weirdness knows no borders, so if you know of such things in contiguous counties of Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia, as well as other parts of Maryland, please pass them along, too. I am chiefly interested, however, in Maryland’s skillet handle, where the state is only one county wide, and yet so deep.