Thursday, August 6, 2009

Map of the Week-The New Jersey Devil

The Strapping Fieldhands were a Philadelphia based low-fi folk rock multi-instrumental band from the 1990s. They were like a weird pre-Decembrists band with a love of history, mythology and, of course, maps. They had a reputation for putting on a great live show (supposedly they stole the show when they opened for Guided by Voices) despite barely knowing how to play their instruments. Recording was not their strong point so what you often get is very good songs buried under a slushy, distorted mix.

I dug out their extended single "In the Pineys" yesterday for a long car trip. The cover features a nice map showing sightings of the New Jersey Devil. This beast stalks the Pine Barrens region of southern New Jersey (aka "the Pineys" to us urban snobs.) 100 years ago the devil returned after a long hiatus and terrorized the region. There were thousands of sightings within one week in January, 1909. With a quick web search I was able to locate the single's cover map.

The map, credited to Rosemary Ellen Guiley has some nice details, including a drawing of the beast itself and it highlights the many 1909 sightings. It also distorts New Jersey to emphasize the southern half of the state, while squeezing Somerville and New Brunswick far to the north. The Unexplained America page that includes the map has a good history of the legend as does the Devil Hunters page.

Nowadays sightings are few and the New Jersey Devil mainly conjures up images of a remarkably boring hockey team. For a hokey hockey take on the Devil's recent activity see the New Jersey Devils mascot page.


Anonymous said...

Are there any higher resolution images of that map? It looks pretty cool!

Dug said...

I scanned the CD jacket for the cover image and actually that scan is higher resolution than the image from "Unexplained America"-click the CD cover image.

There may be other web sites with better images of the map.I only looked at one page of results. The map title is "Major Recorded Sightings of the Jersey Devil" so try that in a search engine.
Or try an antique map seller.
Or try to find a vinyl version of the record with its larger cover.

Michael5000 said...

Stealing the show when opening for Guided by Voices would have been dangerous. I'd be afraid of Robert Pollard putting on the hurt.

I believe the Jersey Devil might have shown up later to do combat with FBI special agents Mulder and Scully. Either that, or something else did and for a while people thought it was the Jersey Devil. However, I am not really contributing to this blog's core map-oriented mission, so I'll shut up now.