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No. 9: Winter 1979

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The Hazards Of Sewer Exploration

A modern bit of folklore tells of dis-carded pet baby alligators flushed down toilets into the sewers of New York. There they grew fat on rats and confronted startled sanitation workers. Is there factual basis for such wild tales? Coleman states that he has compiled a list of 77 encounters with erratic or out-of-place alligators for the period 18431973, including one 5.5-foot specimen found frozen to death in Wisconsin in 1892. Only one in the 77 is a sewer specimen, but it is from New York City. The New York Times of February 10, 1935, reported a 125-pound alligator, almost 8-feet long, pulled out of a snow clogged sewer on East 123rd Street. Obviously half-frozen from the cold, the animal snapped weakly at its captors. "Let 'im have it!" the cry went up. The only known sewer alligator perished un der flailing snow shovels. No one could explain how the alligator got into or survived in a New York sewer.

(Coleman, Loren; "Alligators-in-the-Sewers: A Journalistic Origin," Journal of American Forlkore, 92:335, 1979.)

From Science Frontiers #9, Winter 1979. 1979-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987