Since the beginning of time, humans have domesticated all kinds of animals to perform odd jobs. According to one Upstate New York legend, turtles were a slept-on work species.

New York's Historic Mile Markers

There's a ton of fascinating history sewn into the story of New York State. Thankfully, there's a great operation called the New York Historical Association that erects these historic mile markers so these moments don't get forgotten.

The typical historic mile markers are those blue plaques with yellow detailing. But there are other types of mile markers you may see on your travels.

If you see a maroon-ish/red-colored plaque with light detailing, you're probably looking at one of New York's Legend & Lore plaques. Get a little closer and you'll see a celestial moon insignia to be sure.

New York's Hulk Turtle?

There's a Legends & Lore mile marker that immediately caught my attention. It's the story of Gorton Turtle - in my head it's Gorton THE Turtle, but Gorton actually refers to the lake that the turtle climbs out of. Anyway...

If you just read the Goton Turtle plaque, you'll learn that there was a wagon full of rocks that grew to be too heavy for horses to pull. Then a giant turtle emerged from the water, grabbed the wagon, and pulled it into the lake.

Gorton Lake Google Maps
Gorton Lake Google Maps

That alone is a crazy story and just might even make you Google, "how much weight can a turtle carry?" But dig even just a tiny bit deeper and this story gets even wilder.

New York's Gorton Turtle Lore

Chips and Shavings: Stories of Upstate New York, a book written by George William Walter in 1966, features some more information about the Gorton Turtle.

According to accounts from a local storyteller Geneva “Aunt Neva” Watson, this Gorton Turtle legend is nuts! Much of the beginning of the story is the same. An Irishman is trying to clear some land to start a garden and after loading too many rocks into his cart, the horses can't pull the wagon.

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According to Aunt Neva, the Irishman let this predicament sit for days while he pondered how to move the rocks. While waiting to think of a solution, a giant turtle emerges from the lake. I need you all to understand that when I say giant, I mean the turtle was said to be "larger than a cottage" giant.

The story continues that the turtle put the wagon in its mouth and then walked into the lake. Then, the turtle gave the man a little wink and dipped back into the lake, never to be seen again.

I know New York has some pretty crazy urban legends but this one is out there. Aside from a cottage-sized turtle with the might of Zeus, the thought of taking out a couple of rocks from the wagon so the horse could pull it never occurred to the Irishman?

If Urban Legends are your jam, check out some of the Hudson Valley's biggest Bigfoot stories here: Was Bigfoot Captured on a Hudson Valley Ring Camera?

7 Urban Legends Every Upstate New Yorker Should Know

Gallery Credit: Nick Kessler

31 Reported Bigfoot Sightings in The Hudson Valley Since 1962

A list of sightings dates back to 1962 with a reported sighting in Maybrook, NY where they nicknamed the Bigfoot "Turkey Monster."


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