If you’re not from Michigan, Ohio, or Connecticut, you may not have heard of the Melon Heads urban legend. Each state has several versions of the tale, but they all center around one thing: creepy humanoids with large, bulbous heads. Sometimes they’re a result of inbreeding. Sometimes they’re a result of experiments gone wrong. They lurk in the woods, hiding under the cover of darkness. But what do they want?
This list explores the origins of each of the legends, from the Melon Heads in Felt Mansion to the Melon Heads in Ohio and Connecticut. There are first-hand accounts, tales that have been passed down from generation to generation, and somewhat rational explanations. Is any of it true? Read through the accounts below and decide for yourself.
In Weird U.S.: Your Travel Guide to America's Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets, a man named Tony recounts his encounter with a Melon Head in Chardon, OH. Tony was driving with his family down Chillicothe Road when they came to a section of the road with fields on both sides. There was an irrigation ditch separating the road from the fields. That’s where Tony spotted him. He explained, “I looked out my window and saw him—a Melon Head! He, or it, was running next to the ditch. We were going about 45-50 mph, and the Melon Head was actually keeping up with us.”
Tony goes on to describe the Melon Head’s clothes (ripped brown pants, white shirt with red stains) and appearance (about 5’7”, light brown skin, large head, two holes where the ears should have been). The creature jumped into the woods as their car went around a curve in the road.
The second origin story in Ohio is similar to the first, except for one thing: in this story, Dr. Crow is evil. It is said that Dr. Crow used to take in orphans and perform horrifying medical experiments on them in his secluded house. He injected fluid into their brains, causing the characteristic swollen skull. His torture continued for years, and the children became more desperate with each passing day—until they finally murdered him. They set fire to the house and retreated into the woods, where they still live to this day. Was their madness caused by the experiments? Or did Dr. Crow’s psychological torture push them over the edge?
There’s an abandoned building near Felt Mansion in Holland, Michigan. The government insists that it was part of the Dunes Correctional Facility, a low-security prison that was shut down. Some locals, however, believe that it was once the site of the Junction Insane Asylum. The Allegan County Historical Society has claimed that the asylum never existed and is just part of local lore. But maybe it did exist. And maybe it had something to do with the Melon Heads.
One version of the legend goes like this: some children with hydrocephalus, a condition that causes the brain to swell with excess cerebrospinal fluid and the head to appear enlarged, lived at the Junction Insane Asylum. They were mentally and physically abused by the staff. Some say that they killed the abusive doctors, feasted on them, scattered their bones in Felt Mansion, and fled into the woods; some say that they simply escaped. But no matter how they got out, the story goes that they continued to live in the woods, where they became feral and mutated into Melon Heads.
In Ohio, there are two prominent origin stories of the Melon Heads. This one is about a benevolent Dr. Crow, who lived off Wisner Road in Kirtland, OH, which just so happens to be right near a rumored Cry Baby Bridge. Dr. Crow took in children with hydrocephalus and gave them a warm, loving home. The neighbors were repulsed and called them “melon heads,” but Dr. Crow did his best to shield them from the cruel comments of others.
When Dr. Crow died of natural causes, his adopted children remembered the negative experiences they had with the neighbors, and they were afraid of interacting with them. So, instead, they burned the house down with Dr. Crow inside of it and escaped into the woods. They continued to live there, where interbreeding brought out the worst of their genes. Eventually, they became less human and more humanoid.