The monster is a dragon-like creature in American folklore that allegedly inhabits the Central Maryland and Washington, D.C., area, and “The Curse of the Snallygaster,” written by Gate House Museum Curator Jack White, is a new, Sykesville version of the mythical creature’s tale.
“The story is really cool,” said Downtown Sykesville Connection Julie Della-Maria on Wednesday, when the book was released at the Old Main Line Visitor Center and Post Office. “Jack did a great job.”
The tale of the Snallygaster is a flexible one, like many legends, and White’s version is one crafted with his intimate knowledge of Sykesville history.
“I heard this voice of this guy, the narrator, and I kind of just went with it,” said White, “and I made it up pretty quickly on the spot.
“It wasn’t like lots of reworking or anything,” he said. “I was trying to weave some Sykesville history in there, so I decided to work around the flood of 1868 and blame the whole thing on the Snallygaster.”
The book’s connection to the murals spread across Main Street makes it a kind of a scavenger hunt as well — as each artist got a section of the story earlier this summer to paint at various downtown sites, and the murals physically lead viewers through the story.
“The intent is, in a very fun way, to educate people about the history of Sykesville, to get them interested,” said Stacy Link, a member of the Town Council and the Downtown Sykesville Connection Design Committee earlier this summer. “There’s going to be a map to go along with it, too.
“Even if you never read the book, you can create the story on your own,” she said. “Or maybe you read the book and then see the murals, or maybe the murals lead you to the book — we’ve dreamed of having some sort of community art project to bring people in.”