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Indrid Cold – The Smiling Man

Updated: Mar 28

Everyone has heard of Mothman at this point. If you haven't heard of it yet, then keep your eyes on We'll soon cover that winged enigma. Few people know the full story of the High Strangeness surrounding the Mothman flap of Point Pleasant.

One of the weirder figures of the field made its first appearance during Mothman's debut. Indrid Cold is a humanoid creature that, if eyewitness reports are true, rides around in a flying saucer.

Indrid Cold
The name's Cold, Indrid Cold

Woodrow Derenberger – That's no Police Car

Woodrow Derenberger was a sewing machine man. A travelling salesman, peddling sewing machines around West Virginia. It was early November 1966. The fall chill had set in.

While heading home to Mineral Wells from a successful sale, Woodrow stopped on the highway. He noticed that one of his prized sewing machines had come loose. After securing the errant device, he continued on his way.

Woodrow was overtaken by another vehicle which was being tailed closely by what he assumed was a police car. The 'car' pulled in front of him and slowed down, forcing Woodrow to slow his vehicle in response. Finally, it forced him to come to a complete stop.

Mr. Derenberger described an object landing in front of his vehicle:

"an old-fashioned kerosene lamp chimney, flaring at both ends, narrowing down to a small neck and then enlarging in a great bulge in the center."

A figure emerged from the maddening lights of the strange aircraft. It walked up to Woodrow Derenberger's window. The 'man' held his hands firmly in his armpits. He had a strange grin on his face.

“His face looked like he had a good tan, a deep suntan. He was not too dark but it was just like he had been out in the sun a lot and had a good tan. His hair was combed straight back and it was a dark brown and he seemed to have a good thick head of hair. His eyebrows, his face, his features were very normal. I don’t believe that he looked any different from any other man that you would meet on the street.”

Woodrow reported that the 'man' spoke to him, although his mouth never moved.

“He asked me to roll down the window on my right-hand side of my truck and I done what he asked. And this man stood there and he first asked me what I was called and I knew he meant my name and I told him my name and he asked me, he said, ‘Why are you frightened?’ he said, ‘Don’t be frightened, we wish you no harm,’ he said, ‘We mean you no harm, we wish you only happiness,’ and I told him my name and when I told him my name he said he was called ‘Cold’.”

Thirteen days later the Mothman made his first appearance in the nearby town of Point Pleasant, West Virginia. UFO sightings were common during Mothman's 'invasion' of Point Pleasant.

Fame and Glory – The Persistent Myth of Profit

A man crying while counting all of his money.
All of this UFO money has ruined my life!

The most unimaginative skeptics have a knee-jerk reaction when someone shares their UFO sighting. They dismiss the witness as only coming forward for the money. The assumption being that people are somehow getting rich from telling their story.

It's almost as lazy as dismissing sightings as “swamp gas”. Look, I'm a skeptic myself. But true skeptics look at the facts, and the fact is that the most famous eyewitnesses don't usually get rich. Their lives fall apart.

Woodrow Derenberger claims that Indrid Cold visited him several times over the years. He even wrote a book about the experience. Derenberger's family also claimed to have seen Cold.

In his book, Derenberger elaborates on the story of Indrid Cold. The smiling man claimed to have come from a planet called 'Lanulos' in the Ganymede galaxy, 14.6 light years from Earth. If you know your Astronomy, you'll know that there is no Ganymede galaxy. There also isn't a galaxy that close to Earth.

The story did the rounds in the local media for 3 weeks following Woodrow's interview. People swarmed to the Derenberger home, hoping to catch a glimpse of the spaceman.

John Keel, one of the most famous journalists in the field of the paranormal, visited Woodrow at his home. He found Derenberger hiding behind the curtains, in a state of paranoia and intense fear. Woodrow claimed to be hiding from his human visitors, who refused to leave him alone.

His story intrigued John Keel, who added it to his book about the Mothman sightings, The Mothman Prophecies. Keel attributed the Derenberger's story to the high levels of strangeness surrounding the Mothman's brief reign of terror.

The media hype might have died down, but public interest didn't. Woodrow Derenberger and his relationships suffered because of it. His family had to endure constant harassment in the form of phone calls for years.

Mr. Derenberger developed bad headaches and depression. His wife eventually left him. The man moved away from Mineral Wells in a desperate attempt to escape his infamy.

Woodrow Derenberger's story about Indrid Cold never changed. His life, however, did. Near the end of his life, Derenberger returned to Mineral Falls. There was nothing left of his old life.

23 years after his encounter with the Smiling Man, Woodrow Derenberger died in the town where it all started.

Was he mad? Was the Smiling Man real? We'll likely never know.



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