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The Bandage Man

This story was originally told in Ep. 003 – Salty Bill’s Limp Richard.

For decades, the forests and back roads of Cannon Beach, Oregon have been haunted by their own mummy-like monster. He harasses teens and jumps into unsuspecting vehicles, and is known locally as ‘The Bandage Man’.

Highway 101 runs up the length of the Pacific Ocean in the continental US. It’s infamous for being an amazingly gorgeous drive, but also extremely winding and curvy as it hugs the coastline, and among the many small seaside towns along the 101 sits Cannon Beach.

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A stretch of this winding highway just north of Cannon Beach is the focus of the Bandage Man’s legend. The stretch of road nicknamed ‘Bandage Man Road’ is actually an abandoned part of Highway 101, long since replaced by a more forgiving and less dangerous parcel of pavement. Driving Bandage Man Road has become something of a rite of passage by the local teens after they get their driving license, braving upsetting the Bandage Man on his own turf.

The Bandage Man is known to lurk Cannon Beach’s forests and roads, covered in bandages like the classic Universal Pictures depiction of The Mummy, and is known to reek with the smell of rotting flesh. He is most known for going after parked or passing vehicles, jumping into unguarded truck beds or the back seat of convertibles, and his activity seems to increase on nights of heavy lightning.

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Most legends place The Bandage Man’s origin back to the 1950’s, though some go back as far as the 1930’s. The primary story says that he was a logger (though this is sometimes substituted with an electrician or some other tradesman) who had an on-the-job accident and got “chopped up”. He was quickly bandaged up and placed in an ambulance, but the vehicle got caught in a landslide on the highway on its way to the hospital. By the time rescue crews got to the ambulance and unburied it, the injured man had completely disappeared.

Reports of the Bandage Man began almost immediately and have continued through today, though the biggest chunk of reports come from the 1950’s and 60’s. His favorite past time appears to be harassing teens in vehicles. One tale involves a pair of teens who had parked on the side of the road in a pick-up truck for a little canoodling. Suddenly, they felt the truck dip to one side, like someone was climbing into the bed. The whole truck began to shake violently, and the teens looked back to see the Bandage Man in the bed, rocking the vehicle back-and-forth and pounding on the cab. The panicked teens started the truck and drove away, but by the time they got to town the Bandage Man had disappeared.

The Bandage Man’s pattern is fairly consistent: Find teens parked in the road and scare them, disappear before help is available, repeat. He sometimes leaves behind smatterings of smelly bandages or even chunks of rotten meat. One out-of-character but truly horrifying tale tells of him smashing the window to Bill’s Tavern & Grillhouse in town so he could reach in and snatch someone’s dog, running away and eating the poor creature.

Like any good local legend, local pranksters and troublemakers have found ways to use the tales to their own ends. Indeed, there are occasional cases of teens getting caught or admitting to dressing up as The Bandage Man to cause trouble, so in the end it has become challenging to tell just where the line between local legend and local prank lay.

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Photo by Joshua Woroniecki from Pexels