The Flatwoods Monster (Updated)

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The Flatwoods Monster

Region of origin: Braxton County, West Virginia

In the late summer of 1952 in Braxton county, there was a rash of monster and UFO sightings, and while specifics varied greatly from account to account, the most documented case among them was the initial encounter in the forests near the village of Flatwoods, where a group of five children and one of their parents went exploring after what they thought might have been a UFO landing or crashing. Heading towards the area where the light they had seen seemed to settle, they found the area permeated by a pungent mist which left them with stinging eyes or a nauseous feeling, and some would later be treated for effects similar to exposure to mustard gas. As they continued through the woods they found what they described as a large, slender figure, looming 10-12 feet tall and seemingly either mechanical or wearing some kind metallic outfit or casing that fanned out near the bottom resembling an apron or frock, and a spade-shaped cowl surrounding its round, red face. The figure’s large eyes lit up bright enough to illuminate the surrounding woods, then hissed and moved towards the group, levitating slightly off the ground. The group ran away as it approached them and later came back with some local law enforcement and media to inspect the area who found nothing at the site other than some lingering trace of the gas’ scent and what appeared to be a black oil. After the story got out, there was reports of a mother and daughter coming forward to say they had seen a similar creature at their farm, and later another nearby sighting of a reptilian figure whose lower body was encased in the same floating, metallic base as the Flatwoods monster.

[Sources referenced: X | X | X | X ]

An updated version of this post.

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Mothman

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Mothman

Region of origin: Point Pleasant, West Virginia

Starting in November of 1966 in the area near Point Pleasant, there were numerous reported sightings of a large creature, black or dark brown in color with large glowing red eyes, with descriptions ranging from humanoid to a massive bird to something in-between. Most were just sightings but one couple said it chased their car down the road, keeping pace with them even as they reached speeds of 100 mile per hour. These sightings carried on for thirteen months, accompanied by phenomena like illness in witnesses, animal mutilation, technological malfunctions. One of the most widely-corroborated cryptid sightings, in all there were over one hundred people who had claimed they had seen the creature or otherwise experienced strange anomalous incidents that would get tied into the investigation. The sightings continued but slowed, and largely stopped around the same time as the collapse of the Silver Bridge into the Ohio River in December 1967, a tragic event that resulted in 46 deaths, for which many believe the presence of the strange creature had functioned as a omen or warning, and has since led to claims of similar creatures showing up in the time preceding other large disasters. Origins attributed to the creature range from the demonic to the extraterrestrial, or that West Virginia itself may just be a supernatural hotspot where reality is thin and extra-dimensional creatures like a Mothman may more easily slip through. Alternatively, many also write off the sightings as large bird such as a sandhill crane or maybe a giant owl obscured by the darkness, and connecting all the events leading up to the bridge’s collapse being a form of mass hysteria and apophenia fueled by Mothman coverage in the local papers. Imagined or not, Mothman remains a popular celebrity for Point Pleasant, receiving a statue and an annual festival in the city in 2002. Based on my research, I’m pretty sure everyone on the internet wants to date him.

[Sources referenced: X | X | X | X ]

Bighoot

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Bighoot

Region of origin: West Virginia

A name coined by investigator and cryptozoologist Mark A. Hall, “Bighoot” is a term for a species or several species of large owls thought to have been encountered in the woods of West Virginia and across the Ohio River valley, in addition to sightings in the American southwest and the Caribbean islands. Some theories state they are surviving members of the species Ornimegalonyx oteroi, an extinct owl species that was indigenous to Cuba that reached heights of three-to-five feet to tall, while more fantastical versions describe Bighoots that are large enough to pick up and fly away with a person, and may have some human-like features (not unlike the Bahamas’ Chickcharney). Owls have often been put forward as possible explanations for cryptid and extraterrestial encounters, and the Bighoot is no exception, being proposed as the possible cryptid behind the cryptid of some of West Virginia’s various paranormal residents, including thunderbirds, the sasquatch-like yayhos and maybe even being at the core of one of the state’s more publicized incidents.

And if I may be indulgent for a moment, if weird owls are your thing, please check out my friend’s animated series, Obsidian National Forest.

[Sources referenced: X | X | X ]

 

Thomas, the Winged Cat of Pineville

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Thomas, the Winged Cat of Pineville

Region of origin: Pineville, West Virginia

In 1959, Pineville resident Doug Shelton found a cat out in the woods who possessed a pair of fur-covered wing-like growths extending off its shoulders. It seemed skittish but comfortable around people, so Doug took it home and named it Thomas, where she quickly became a local celebrity and even got some time in the national spotlight, receiving attention from curious reporters and scientists. A neighbor to the Sheltons, Mrs. Charles Hicks, eventually heard of Thomas and came forward to claim it was her cat, Mitzi, that had gone missing a few days before Doug had found her. The Sheltons refused to give up the cat, who they had begun charging curious onlookers a dime to see and had begun generating some decent income for the small family. The case eventually went to court, but ended abruptly when Doug arrived to the courthouse with a wingless Thomas and a box containing her shed “wings,” which had just been protuberances of matted fur, and Mrs. Hicks claiming upon seeing Thomas that it wasn’t her cat, anyways. Thomas remained with the Sheltons, but without her wings she no longer drew in much of a crowd.

[Sources referenced: X | X | X| X ]

The Grafton Monster

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The Grafton Monster

Region of origin: Grafton, West Virginia

One night in mid-June of 1964, reporter Robert Cockrell was driving home when he approached a large white “obstruction” on the side of the road. As he passed, he ascertained it appeared to be a living creature, estimated about nine feet tall with white smooth skin and no discernible head. Panicked, Cockrell sped on, but returned later that night with two friends to try and find the creature. Any trace of the creature had disappeared, the grass in the spot where it had been looked matted as if something had been there but nothing nearby indicating where it had come from or gone. While searching, the three heard a strange whistling noise but were unable to locate a source of the sound. The story spread and while the monster was never sighted again, monster-hunting remained a popular activity around Grafton for the remainder of the summer. Details were scant and so too were possible explanations, but the creature’s seeming ability to vanish into thin air has led people to postulate it shares origins either extraterrestrial or extra-dimensional with other local sightings such as the Flatwoods Monster or Mothman.

[Sources referenced: X | X | X ]

West Virginia Week

I’ll spare you my thoughts on the game itself but after the Fallout 76 announcement at E3 last weekend, I’ve had West Virginia and Appalachia folklore on the mind, so this week I’ll be doing a theme week of five WV-indigenous monsters, mainly picked out of the selection found in Monsters Of West Virginia by Rosemary Ellen Guilley.

If you’re looking for some more WV monsters, I’ve already done a few including the Snallygaster, the Sheepsquatch and the Flatwoods Monster.

The Banshee of Marrtown

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The Banshee of Marrtown

Region of origin: Marrtown, West Virginia

As people emigrate to new lands, the creatures and figures of their folklore may travel along with them and as a result, tales of banshees in America have cropped up around communities where Scottish and Irish immigrants have resettled. One such instance is the banshee which haunted Thomas Marr and his family. Marr settled Marrtown with his wife Mary in 1836, and historical details may vary the legend of the banshee states he farmed and picked up extra income by serving as a night watchman at a nearby toll bridge on the Little Kanawha River. Thomas would tell his wife that on several nights on the way to and from the bridge, he would encounter a grey-robed figure on a white horse but was never able to see their face. Then one night in February of 1876, while Mary was waiting for her husband to return, the horse and rider approached the home’s front gate. Going out to meet the rider, Mary saw it was a woman with glowing red eyes. The woman would tell Mary that Thomas had died that night before she rode off, vanishing into the mists of the early morning. The message was confirmed as Thomas’ replacement came to relieve him, the body was found in the Little Kanawha, with conflicting reports saying he had been shot in a robbery, fallen into the river and drowned or was simply scared to death by the banshee’s wail. The banshee would later return when Mary passed and a horrible scream could be heard throughout the house, and was said to either appear or otherwise make its presence known to those of the Marr family line through the decades.

[Sources referenced: X | X | X ]