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Tall Tales

First Things First

Well, the spring floods here in Vermont are mighty fierce, doncha know. One young farmer named Tom got trapped one year when the river started rising near his place. He watched the water creep up to his front porch, and then through the front door, and then on up the steps until he and his wife were trapped in their upstairs bedroom.

Eavesdropper

There is an old tale which claims that at midnight, on Christmas Eve, the cattle will kneel in the barn and speak with one another. Once an old Maryland man decided to test the tale by hiding in the barn at midnight to listen. So he climbed a rope to the window in the hayloft. He lay down on the rough gray boards, covered himself with hay and waited…

A Gift from Saint Nicholas

Claas Schlaschenschlinger was a wealthy cobbler living on New Street in New Amsterdam. He was a contented bachelor who could afford eight – eight mind you! – pairs of breeches and he had a little side business selling geese. He cut quite a figure in New Amsterdam society, and was happy being single, until he met the fair Anitje! She was as pretty as a picture, and Claas fell head over heels for her. He was not her only suitor, by any means. The local burgomaster was also courting the fair Anitje. But the burgomaster was a stingy, hard man, and in the end, Anitje gave her heart and hand to Claas…

Yellowhammer

Once long ago, Sam, a young slave from Alabama, was sent to the market in Georgia with his master’s cattle. After delivering the cattle to market, Sam was given some free time as a reward for good service. Sam decided to explore the city…

Sinks

Nevada rivers empty into a series of small lakes which have no visible outlets. These lakes are called sinks because the water just sinks away…

Hoosiers

There’s an ongoing debate here in the great state of Indiana over the origins of the word “Hoosiers”. My Granddad, he falls into the first camp, and me, I fall into the second…

The Twist-Mouth Family

A while back there was a family I know of – a mother, a father, and several children. Four of them had mouths that were twisted into strange shapes. The mother’s mouth twisted up while the father’s mouth twisted down. The sister’s mouth twisted left while the younger brother’s mouth twisted right. The eldest son John’s mouth was perfectly normal…

Slide-Rock Bolters

Way up in the mountains of Colorado lurks the slide-rock bolter. This creature has a huge head, slits where its eyes should be and a wide mouth with long, sharp teeth…

The Shaggy Dog

There once was a woman traveling home from England who lost her pooch somewhere between Salem and Springfield. He was just about the shaggiest dog in the entire world; so shaggy you couldn’t tell which end was which until his tail started wagging…

Old Man Moses

It’s not hard to catch a meal in New Hampshire, no sir. Take my neighbor, Old Man Moses, who lives down a piece from me. One morning, Old Man Moses went out his kitchen door and found twelve turkeys on his fence…

Mississippi Mosquitoes

A visitor to Mississippi decided to take a walk along the river in the cool of the evening. His host warned him that the mosquitoes in the area had been acting up lately, tormenting the alligators until they moved down the river. But the visitor just laughed and told his host he wasn’t to be put off from his evening constitutional by a few mosquitoes…

Jack and the Corn Stalk

Once, a Kansas farmer sent his son Jack to check on the growth of the corn in the field. Now Jack was not a tall lad, so he decided to take a ladder with him. When he found a nice big stalk of corn, he leaned the ladder against it and climbed up until he could reach the first joint. From there, he proceeded to the top of the cornstalk, and looked out over the field. There was enough corn there for a rich harvest…

Hoop Snakes

Now the Pennsylvania hoop snake is something to be reckoned with. It is long, and its colors vary with the type of whisky you’ve been drinking. But everyone agrees that you can tell a hoop snake from a regular snake by the way it moves. When a hoop snake travels around, it grabs its tail (with the poison stinger at the end) in its mouth and rolls along until it sees something it wants to sting. Then it whips the stinger out of its mouth quick enough and lashes out with its tail…

Fur-Bearing Trout

Now it happened that there was a mining camp in Colorado where more than an average number of the miners were bald. An enterprising hair tonic salesman from Kentucky decided to take advantage of this golden opportunity, so he made the trip north. It was a rainy summer evening. The salesman was headed towards the mining camp with four bottles of hair tonic under his arm. As he was crossing one of the trout streams which lead to the Arkansas River, the salesman slipped and dropped two bottles of hair tonic into the water. The bottles broke, and the hair tonic spilled into the stream…

Echoes

Following the Homestead Act of 1862, many Scandinavians pioneered the lands of the mid-West. These frontier settlers worked hard, and were justly proud of their new home in America. They were not above boasting about their new country, especially to settlers who came from the old…

The Crystal Mountain

According to the latest reports, there is a crystal mountain residing somewhere in Wyoming. You can’t see nothing of it, it being clear straight through. But folks hereabouts reckon its about three miles around at the base, on account of all the bones of birds which killed themselves crashing into the danged thing…

Old Stormalong and the Octopus

One day Old Stormalong, the ultimate sailor, was sailing the Courser through the deepest part of the Atlantic Ocean when a particularly large wave knocked the anchor loose. The anchor plunged right down to the bottom before the sailors could reel her in, and it got caught on something.

Old Stormalong

Now everyone knows that Alfred Bulltop Stormalong was the ultimate sailor. He was the captain of a mighty ship known as the Courser, which was so wide that she couldn’t sail into Boston Harbor and so tall that the mast was hinged into the middle so it could be taken down to avoid the sun and the moon whenever they passed by.

Cowboys in Heaven

After cow punching for nigh on fifty years, a Texas cowboy went on to his reward. There was considerable excitement in heaven when he reached the pearly gates…

Connecticut Yankee

Now, here in the South, we all do not approve of your so-called Connecticut Yankee peddlers. So when one appeared in the yard of my tavern, I was not of a mind to give him room for the night. He was a scrawny fellow with a mop of white hair and a withered face. He did not seem like a crafty Yankee peddler.

Bigfoot Wallace Runs the Mail

Bigfoot Wallace – that wild and wacky Texas Ranger — returned to the wilds of frontier life once the United States won the war with Mexico, and it suited him as nothing else could do. Soon he was freighting mail six hundred miles from San Antonio to El Paso, and it was the wildest stretch in the Wild West! Wallace was the only man who could do it. Anyone else who tried was scared off by attacking Comanche and Apache warriors or killed outright…