The Beaufort Street Banshee – Manchester’s cryptid
Cryptid – noun. An animal whose existence or survival is disputeted or unsubstantiated.
This word originated in 1990 with the rise in popularity of cryptozoology, a form of pseudoscience in which people “study” or search for cryptids. While you might not have heard the term before, many cryptids themselves are well known, such as the Yeti, Bigfoot, or Chupacabras. There are even movies and television shows dedicated to searching for cryptids.
Cryptids are often regional, and Michigan is home to many. The Michigan Dogman is just one example. He is a werewolf-like creature who has mostly been sighted in the northwest part of the Lower Peninsula. The legend gained popularity after a song was recorded by Steve Cook about the Dogman as an April Fool’s joke. The song rose in popularity and Cook eventually updated the song with more recent sightings in 1997. The Ridgeway Monster is another Michigan cryptid that hits a little closer to home. Ridgeway is a small town close to Tecumseh, and in 1986, Nancy Niemann wrote a story in the Tecumseh Herald about the beast. She claimed she was told by a realtor that there was a specific house in Ridgeway that had an extremely active poltergeist and a red-haired monster with green eyes that would peek into windows, but that the realtor refused to give her the specific address.
Cryptids are particularly interesting when you have one in your own town and Manchester has had its share with the Manchester Panther and the infamous crocodile. However, neither is as mysterious or eerie as the Beaufort Street Banshee. While there have been no sightings of the elusive creature, residents have heard the cries of this monster for years, though only those who have live on or very near to Beaufort Street have ever heard this strange noise. The Beaufort Street Banshee has been vocally active for nearly 10 years. The cries cease when winter arrives usually in late September but sometimes continuing into mid October. The Beaufort Street Banshee, like skunks, groundhogs, bears, and bees, appears to hibernate in the winter.
On June 15th, 2017, local resident Ivy Herron, got the very first known recording of the cryptid’s scream. Posting it on Facebook, she posed the question, “What is it???” While the general population of Manchester offered up many interesting options as to what the noise could have originated from, (a recorder, squeaky air conditioner, metal scrapings, a bassoon, an elk call, etc.). A suggestion offered up by Yvonne Woelders Fent was that the mysterious sound was actually a “Ghost train.” While this is an appealing idea, it would make more sense if the origin of the sound was along the multi-use trail, where train tracks at one time ran through town, instead of along Beaufort Street.
To those who have grown used to its ten year presence in the community, the call of the Beaufort Street Banshee signifies the unofficial start of summer. It has become not only a normal part of life but also a local icon to those living on Beaufort Street and the surrounding area. While it is understandable to try and pin the noise on something commonplace like a musical instrument or a faulty appliance, the most reasonable conclusion is, in fact, that Manchester has its own cryptid, the Beaufort Street Banshee, and I believe that we should respect this creature, and search for the endless positive opportunities that having our own cryptid could offer.