Mystery in History Alligators in the Sewers Part 2

About the history of Anna Kingsford who claims to have developed a spiritual thunderbolt that gave her the power to kill people with her mind.


Though their conquest was tinged with regret at killing such an impressive creature, the boys took the alligator's carcass to the Lehigh Stove and Repair Shop. It weighed 125 lb. and measured nearly 8 ft. The store had never before been the center of so much activity.

Eventually someone called the police. When they arrived, there was nothing much for them to do except calm the excited neighborhood people who were milling about the store.

No one could figure out where the alligator had come from. There were no pet shops nearby, and no other source of alligators seemed reasonable. Perhaps a steamship from Florida, passing the 123rd Street sewer conduit in the Harlem River, had been harboring an alligator. Maybe the alligator fell overboard and swam toward land to get out of the cold water. Entering the sewer outlet, it may have swum through the system until it reached the slushy snow under the open manhole.

Half-dead from cold, the alligator was rescued only to be killed by those in awe of its last fearsome display of teeth. By 9:00 P.M. the Dept. of Sanitation had picked up the carcass and taken it to an incinerator.

Teddy May, the superintendent of the New York City sewers during the 1930s, then began getting reports from sanitation inspectors who claimed to have seen more alligators, but he did not believe them. He even refused to approve reports which had inspectors' notations about alligators. May went as far as hiring men to spy on the inspectors and tell him how they were managing to get drunk down in the sewers. The word came back that his men weren't drinking, and the reports of narrow escapes from alligators persisted. Determined to lay the claims to rest, Teddy May decided to go down and have a look for himself.

A few hours later, he returned to his office shaken. His own flashlight, according to Robert Daley in The World Beneath the City, had illuminated the truth behind the rumors--alligators 2 ft. and longer. To avoid the dangerously fast currents in the main sewer lines under the major avenues, the alligators had gravitated to smaller pipes in quiet areas of the city. May now was faced with the job of removing them. Within a few months he had accomplished that task by using rat poison on them and by forcing them into the main trunk lines, where they either drowned or washed out to sea. Or so he thought. For in 1938 five alligators were caught in New Rochelle, N.Y., and sightings of others in New York City sewers were recorded in 1948 and again in 1966.

Alligators in sewers are neither rumors nor myths, but real dangers in the world underneath some of the large cities in the U.S. In addition to the New York sightings, recent accounts indicate that alligators are to be found in the sewers of Atlanta, Ga. and St. Paul, Minn. How widespread this phenomenon is remains to be seen.

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