The Nain Rogue Demon


AB: From what I know – which isn’t the most accurate account – is that the Nain Rouge is a disgusting hairy and horned demon. The story goes that the first time it showed up was before some battle where the demon danced on the corpses of the dead soldiers and turned the river bloody. Since then, it shows up prior to devastating events in the city as like a bad omen. The 1967 Race Riots were the most common example I heard since my grandparents moved out of the city due to them.


AB: The Nain Rouge is one of those myths not really in circulation in my family. I know growing up it was used as a boogeyman for a child’s bad behavior, which deviates pretty heavily from the original myth of it being a foreboding omen. I mostly just thought it was my parents needing a local legend derived from their parent’s catholic backgrounds. I lived in the suburbs surrounding Detroit but I did live close enough to the Rouge River for cultural osmosis to propagate. Myth went from chastising bad behavior to a reason to be back home before sundown (I used to bike up and down the Rouge River at Hines Park). Eventually my parents kinda just grew out of it, I didn’t really believe in it so they stopped using it.


There are a lot of similar boogeyman type stories in American folklore. Other common examples include stories like the Jersey Devil. The most likely origin for these stories is from somebody who witnessed a tragedy and wants some way to rationalize what occurred. Seeing a battlefield is damaging to the psyche, it isn’t too unbelievable that people would tell stories about the aftermath. As the stories grow popular, there are more “sightings” of the monster because more people know about it. Though, these stories are rarely believed, and like AB mentioned, are mostly used to scare children into behaving.