Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Funeral Mountain Terrashot

I've posted about several folkloric creatures in the last few days.  Many of these "fearsome critters" were jokes, but others were used to explain everyday phenomena.  Today, we cover the Funeral Mountain Terrashot -- which provides an example of folk etymology.  It was invented, so it seems, to explain the name of California's Funeral Range.  And its story is about as bizarre as you'll see on this blog.

The Funeral Mountain Terrashot resembles a living coffin.  It waddles around the mountains on four stumpy legs, wobbling precariously from side to side.  It is easy for the beast to tip over -- though as we'll see, that's the least of its traveling problems.  Normally, the Terrashot dwells in peace, gathering and breeding in alpine meadows.  But when its population grows sufficiently large, the creature's migratory instincts set in.  At this point, the entire Terrashot clan leaves the mountains, trundling in a single-file line across the desert.

These migrations, unfortunately, are very short-lived.  When a Terrashot touches the desert's hot sands, it begins to swell uncontrollably.  Eventually, it explodes like a shotgun shell in a cloud of brimstone.  Even after seeing the death of their leader, the other Terrashots march on like lemmings.  One after the other, each creature detonates, punching a grave-shaped hole into the sand.

Supposedly some mormons witnessed this abortive migration and named the Funeral Range after the phenomenon.  No Terrashots have been seen since; perhaps the last of them were struck by fatal wanderlust.  Only their name lives on -- or so the story goes.

Read more about the Funeral Mountain Terrashot:
Image (public domain) from

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