Six Popular Urban Legends from Florida’s History

Florida AlligatorHere at Farah & Farah, we are well acquainted with the many strange happenings that go on throughout Florida. While there are many modern oddities, our state is steeped in many strange legends.

But as lifelong Floridians, we embrace these urban legends and the color they add to our state. For your entertainment, here are six legends from across the centuries that were born right here in The Sunshine State.

The Cassadaga Devil Chair – Devil’s chairs are a type of funeral sculpture that were frequently added to 19th Century graves, but have become major sources of legend. The one in a Cassadaga cemetery is apparently home to a ghost that really loves beer. Leave an unopened can of the stuff on the bench and it will be opened and drained by morning. Not good enough? Sit in the chair and you’ll see The Devil.

An Ancient Battle with a Giant Alligator Leads to the Strange Spook Hill – The title really says it all. Centuries ago, a Native American chief battled an enormous gator to protect his Lake Wales village, leading to both their deaths. Pioneers later named the area of battle Spook Hill, since their horses experienced great difficulty riding through the area. Today, cars seem to roll uphill in the area when put into neutral. It’s a very complex legend for what is really an optical illusion, like other so-called “gravity hills.” The area looks like cars go uphill when they are actually going downhill.

The Secret Origin of the Love Bug – Every year, the sticky Florida air is temporarily filled with millions of “love bugs.” These pests coat your car and fill your nose if you are unlucky enough to enter a swarm. But do you know where they come from? Urban legend says that these bugs were concocted by scientists to crush the mosquito population, but escaped from a lab and ran rampant. Really, these are just a subspecies of march flies. Not nearly as exciting.

The Tale of the Mexican Pet – The story goes that a family visiting Florida found a pet they thought was a Chihuahua or generic “Mexican” dog, bought it, and brought it home. But the animal ate their cat, so they took it to a vet to have it tested, only to find out it was a giant sewer rat. The moral? Buyer beware. The reality? None whatsoever.

The Skunk Ape is Neither a Skunk Nor Ape – Some places have Bigfoot, others have lake monsters, Florida has the Skunk Ape. This giant, upright ape-like creature has been spotted across in state since the 1960’s and is named after the foul smell that accompanies it everywhere. Two anonymous photos of the creature snooping around in a backyard sent to the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Department have kept the legend alive. The creature even has its own commemorative silver coin!

The Fountain of Youth is in Florida – The Fountain of Youth is a centuries old legend, but who knew that it had so much to do with Florida? Conquistador Ponce de Leon was convinced that the Fountain was somewhere in Florida. A story told by a long-held captive in the eventual state revealed that a lost river he called the “Jordan” could cure the people who used its waters. According to biographies written after his death, de Leon and his fellow Spaniards searched every body of water they came across. Sadly, it still has not been found. Maybe that explains all the retirees that come here.

Do you have a favorite Florida myth that we didn’t list here? Let us know!