|The Rose Files
True Scary Stories from Life
| Sewer Gator!
~ Rose Titus ~
One of our society’s favorite urban legends is the legend of the “alligators living
in the sewers.” As the story goes, a long time ago people visited Florida, and
brought back cute little baby alligators to keep in their apartments as pets.
When the alligators began to get too vicious to control, these animals were
simply “flushed away,” or dumped and abandoned down into the sewers, and
thus they ended up living in the sewer systems of major U.S. cities.
In “The World Beneath the City,” by Robert Daley (Lippincott, 1959), the tale is
told of a foreman who supervised a work crew in the 1930’s. He sent workmen
down to inspect the sewers for leaks and other problems. One of the men
claimed that he saw a large alligator swimming about in the water down in the
sewers. The foreman, of course, assumed that his workmen had been drinking
on the job, and refused to believe there were “alligators in the sewers.” Instead,
the foreman sent other employees down into the sewers to see if they could find
out how the work crew was “getting their whiskey” and where they were hiding
No alcohol was discovered, but reports of these monstrous crocodilians
continued. And so then the foreman was determined to go down below and
prove, once and for all, that “there ain’t no alligators!” in the sewers. According
to the story, the foreman returned to his office, shocked to have seen these
horrible beasts for himself. The problem was supposedly dealt with when men
were sent down below with rifles to eliminate “the problem.”
But did they get them all?
Probably not. Because the legend continues to this day, that alligators live
down below, in the sewers of major American cities, and that they hunt sewer
rats, in addition to occasionally eating so-called “mole people” – homeless men
and women who live in caves below the streets because they cannot afford the
high priced rent in the city above. In fact, tales of the “mole people” are another
famous urban legend perhaps to be explored later…
Can these stories be real? Are there truly live alligators living in major U.S.
cities, swimming through the sewers, catching sewer rats, stray dogs, and the
occasionally unlucky person?
Well, yes, in fact, one was actually caught recently close to where I live.
In Lowell, Massachusetts, police were called on the scene where an alligator
was found swimming in the canal. At first it was thought to be a very bad joke,
until Sergeant Cullen arrived, and saw this alligator for himself, according to the
Lowell Sun newspaper (article by Robert Mills, August 27, 2012).
This gator was first seen by a man walking down the street with his two
daughters, “Look, Daddy! An alligator!” Police called in animal control, and the
reptile was captured, and then sent on to the Animal Rescue League of Boston,
where it was said to be doing well in captivity.
It is an amusing coincidence that the mascot of the Lowell Spinners baseball
team is the “Canaligator.” People in Lowell joked that this creature was a
“relative of the “Canaligator,” or that the “Canaligator” got married and “had a
baby canaligator.” People who live and work in the city of Lowell had a good
laugh about the incident for several days.
Occasionally from magazines, the television news, or the internet, we hear
stories of other types of creatures in the sewers, or even materializing in our
bathrooms. Every once in a while a story surfaces that “someone” found a “live
python” or other type of large snake floating around in their “bathroom bowl.”
Since these creatures apparently can survive being flushed, and somehow they
manage to swim their way through “the system,” and since rumor has it that they
can work their way back up the way they came, it might be a good idea to have
a good look before sitting down.