American Folktales & Stories

A folktale (also spelled folk tale) is a story or legend forming part of an oral tradition. Folktales are generally passed down from one generation to another and often take on the characteristics of the time and place in which they are told. Folktales speak to universal and timeless themes, and help folks make sense of their existence or cope with the world in which they live.

Choose a letter to read a summary of the American folktales & stories beginning with that letter.

American Folktales & Stories










  • Eavesdropper
    A Maryland man learns a hard lesson about eavesdropping.

  • Echoes
    A Minnesota settler longs for the echoing mountains of home.

  • El Muerto
    On moonless nights, the ghost of El Muerto continues to ride across South Texas.

  • Enchanted
    A little girl hears the voices of enchanted children coming from the woods near her home.

  • Ethan Allen
    Ethan Allen gets a toothache.

  • Express Train to Hell
    The Express Train to Hell comes to Newark Central Station to take the soul of an old man.















  • La Corriveau
    An evil ghost walks the riverside.

  • La Llorona
    The ghost of a woman searches the river banks for her sons.

  • La Mala Hora
    A woman meets a spectre on her way to a friend's house.

  • Lady in the Veil
    A young fellow meets a pretty girl walking past the graveyard�

  • Lady in Lace
    A beautiful ghost walks the shores near Pebble Beach, California.

  • Lady in Red
    A murdered woman haunts a Nevada hotel.

  • Last Darning Needle
    Now darning needles, in those days, were used to sew clothing and darn socks and mend buttons that were torn off. For a whole community to have only one darning needle was a major concern.

  • Lincoln Death Train
    Every April, the ghostly Lincoln Death Train travels up to Albany from New York City bearing a skeletal orchestra and the coffin of Abraham Lincoln.

  • Lion and Beetle
    King Lion is far too proud for his own good.

  • Llorona, Omen of Death
    Two young men see the ghost of the Llorona as they drive home one evening.

  • Lost!
    A prospector lost in the mire is lead to safety by a beautiful ghost.



  • Maco Ghost Light
    Shortly after a train accident, the Maco Light began to appear on the tracks near the station.�

  • Madrone Monkeys
    Now, Madrone monkeys are not indigenous to the south coast. Where you find them historically, is in the vast rain forests...

  • Maid of Mist
    The tale of the maiden who lived behind the falls of Niagara and the origin of the famous horseshoe falls.

  • McLoughlin's Ghost
    McLoughlin returns occasionally to check up on his old home.

  • Melt Shop
    The horrible ghost of a dead steel worker haunts the melt shop at night.

  • Michigan Winds
    Michigan winds are a bit strong in the spring. (Michigan)

  • Mighty and the Beanstalk
    Mighty the black lab finds a strange plant in her backyard.

  • Mighty and the Troll
    Mighty the black lab finds a troll under the bridge in the horse pasture.

  • Milk Bottles
    Day after day, a woman comes to the store for milk and leaves without paying.

  • Mississippi Mosquitoes
    And you thought your mosquitoes were bad!

  • Moll DeGrow
    A wicked witch plagues the good people living on Gully Road.

  • Mrs. Chory's Chickens
    Mrs. Chory gets into major trouble when her chicken chokes on some corn.

  • Mrs. Peter's Pens
    Someone is swiping Mrs. Peter's Pens.

  • Muriel
    A young girl visits a haunted lighthouse and vanishes



  • Never Mind Them Watermelons
    Sam Gibb accepts a dare to stay in a haunted house, never expecting to meet a ghost.

  • Nine-Eleven
    A New York resident playing tourist has a strange vision when viewing the World Trade Center. (New York)

  • No Trespassing
    A stranded car, an old house, an injured girlfriend�









  • Rabbit Plays Tug-of-War
    Rabbit tricks two water Snakes into playing tug-of-war.

  • Rainbow Crow
    The snow has come to Earth and all the animals are freezing. Can Rainbow Crow save them?

  • Rattlesnake Ridge
    A fiddler challenges the Devil to a musical duel.

  • Raw Head and Bloody Bones
    A witch summons a monster to destroy an old hunter who stole her pig.

  • Red Dwarf of Detroit
    The appearance of a Red Dwarf in Detroit heralds disaster.

  • Riverboat Racing
    An old woman is afraid of racing, until her riverboat is challenged by a rival. (Kentucky)

  • Round River Drive
    Paul Bunyan tries to send his logs down the river only to find out it's round.

  • Row, row, row you car
    Unbeknownst to my brother, the melt water from the previous mild days had flooded the nearby Raritan River; and the part of the field in which he was driving had filled with water...



  • Sachs Bridge
    Civil War ghosts still haunt Sachs Bridge near Gettysburg.

  • Sally Ann Thunder Ann Whirlwind Crockett Bests Mike Fink
    Mike Fink tries to scare Miz Crockett and gets a scare of his own!

  • Sally Slither's Snakes
    Sally brought home a pet snake. Then she got a few more�

  • Sam Hyde
    Two truths for one line. What a bargain!

  • Sangamon County
    Where is the most beautiful place in the world? (Illinois)

  • Sasquatch
    A couple of hikers encounter Bigfoot while out on the trails.

  • Sasquatch and the Bear
    Sasquatch is fishing for his lunch when along comes a hungry bear. (Oregon)

  • Satin Dress
    She rented a fancy dress for the party. But something isn't right�

  • Saving Time
    Shmul was on his way to the market in Chelm one afternoon when he saw his good friend Bein on the street. �Sholom aleichem,� called Shmul to his friend. �Go to blazes,� Bein said without missing a beat.

  • Screaming Jenny
    A burning ghost haunts the tracks near Harpers Ferry.

  • Screaming Tunnel
    The ghost of a young girl trapped in a burning house haunts a tunnel near Niagara Falls.

  • Shadow Train
    A ghost train stops to rescue a dying man.

  • Shaggy Dog
    A woman loses her pooch between Salem and Springfield and starts looking for her extremely shaggy dog.

  • The Sheep Herder's Lawsuit
    A sheep herder bleats himself out of a heavy fine in the "baa"-verlous story!

  • Shrouded Horseman
    A ghostly horseman haunts the roadways, searching for his murderer.

  • Sifty Sifty San
    I am Sifty-Sifty San. I'm here in the house with the tresspassing man!

  • Sinks
    Nevada rivers flow into a series of lakes with no outlets. So what happens to all that water? It sinks!

  • The Skeleton
    A skeleton guards hidden treasure.

  • Skeleton's Lantern
    An eight-foot skeleton roams the Arizona desert near Yuma.

  • Slide-Rock Bolters
    Tourists, beware! Deep in the mountains of Colorado lurk the slide-rock bolters.

  • Spirit Lodge
    A great chief returns after his death to guard his people.

  • Spuyten Duyvil
    New Amsterdam is under attack. Can a brave trumpeter warn the people in time? (New York)

  • Storm Hag
    A sea witch in Erie lures men to their death.

  • Suicide
    The sound of a car running in the garage alerts the neighbors.



  • Talking Mule
    Even mules deserve a day off now and then. (South Carolina)

  • Tall Ted's Turtles
    Tall Ted came to town with a tank full of turtles!

  • Teething Toy
    What would you give your baby to teeth on if you lived in Deadwood, South Dakota?

  • Telltale Seaweed
    An overnight stay in an abandoned Cape Cod house reveals a ghost. (Massachusetts)

  • Ten Red Crows
    Ten red crows began a perilous journey away from the tree seeking to bring light to this dark world.

  • That Pesky Fellow
    A fisherman finds the perfect assistant in the Devil!

  • Three Billy Goats Gruff
    Three Billy Goats want to go to the meadow across the ravine, but a fierce troll guards the bridge.

  • Tikki Tikki Tembo
    Why short names are better.

  • To egg on
    What did this common phrase come from?

  • Tolling of the Bell
    A bell mysteriously tolls in the night, foretelling the doom of the passengers of a local ship.

  • Tommy Knockers
    The spirits of departed miners help miners find ore and knock on the walls right before a cave-in.

  • The Tooth War...and its aftermath
    Not too long ago my niece lost another tooth. Being an enterprising child who is not afraid to believe in the tooth fairy if it means receiving money, she stuck it under her pillow...

  • Trapper's Ghost
    The phantom of an evil trapper is doomed to roam the wilds of Labrador, helping lost travelers to atone for his sins.

  • Trickster Tricked
    In which Terrapin the Turtle outwits the Trickster Rabbit.

  • Turnabout is Fairplay
    An old man's ghost turns the tables on a pair of mischievous boys

  • Twist-Mouth Family
    Find out what a college education is good for.



  • Underground
    Pendleton has a mysterious, and haunted, underground.



  • Vampire Hermit
    A woman and her baby flee from a blood-thirsty vampire.

  • Vengeance
    Husband meets girl. Wife is in the way. Husband murders wife and proposes to girl. And then it all falls apart�

  • Vision of War
    I don't do battlefields. Oh, it's not because I am against history. Nope, the truth is I'm psychic and I find battlefields...overwhelming is the best word I can come up with.



  • Wailing Woman
    La Llorona haunts the riverbanks in the Southwest.

  • Wait Until Emmet Comes
    Do you really want to wait for Emmet? (West Virginia)

  • Wampus Cat
    A hunter meets a terrible beast in the woods of Tennessee.

  • Werewolf's Bride
    A Werewolf covets another man's bride and steals her away on her wedding day.

  • Where does Cat go at noon?
    Cat keeps disappearing. Where to?

  • Where's My Liver
    A boy digs up his uncle's liver and mom serves it for dinner. Not good.

  • Whirlwind
    A ghostly whirlwind sweeps through the graveyard.

  • White Dog
    A huge, white dog with glowing red eyes haunts a local roadway.

  • White Horse
    Mounted on a white horse, a new bride flees for her life from a rejected suitor.

  • White House Ghosts
    Who's haunting the White House? (Washington D.C.)

  • White Lady
    A ghost rises out of Durand Lake to hunt down her daughter's killer. (New York)

  • White Riders
    Riders in white come for an Arizona cowboy caught in a sandstorm.

  • White Wolf
    She dreamed a white wolf was stalking her. Or was it a dream?

  • Who Calls?
    A Cree warrior journeying to the home of his beloved hears her voice calling his name in the night.

  • Why Dogs Chase Cats
    It's a dog chase cat kind of world. (Virginia)

  • Why Lizards Can't Sit
    Brer Lizard tries to get through the fence.

  • Why Opossum Has A Bare Tail
    Opossum wants to make pretty rings on his tail, just like Raccoon.

  • Why Opossum has a Pouch
    Big Bat steals Opossum's babies and she must find someone to steal them back.

  • Wild Goose Island
    A handsome warrior sees a lovely maiden from the other tribe swimming toward the small island in the middle of the lake.

  • Windigo
    A starving warrior comes face to face with a cannibalistic monster called a Windigo.

  • Wraith of the Creek
    "The wraith was an evil creature that desired nothing more than to wrap its long arms around humans or animals and pull them down into the water to drown. "

  • Wrong Side Up
    A settler is given advice by a Dakota man. (North Dakota)



  • Xing-Xing Sings
    Xing-Xing the Xenops Parrot slips away from her family to frolic in a tree outside. Can they get her to come down?






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