This is the story of the Flatwoods monster, and the encounter that fascinated the world. September 12, 1952, would prove to be a very memorable, and profitable, day for the village of Flatwoods, West Virginia.
Many of the most famous creature encounters have come from children. Children, as we all know, never lie. Their innocence shines like a beacon of truth and hope. Obviously I'm joking.
Tommy Hyler, 10, was playing with his friends, Ed, 13, and Freddie, 12, May. They saw a red light streak across the sky and crash in nearby farmland. Having never read a Stephen King novel and having no idea how children should act in the face of terror, the boys all ran to collect an adult before investigating the crash.
Ms. May accompanied the boys to the crash site. They were joined by three other boys, who were following a Stephen King plot, and a dog.
This is the story as reported in the local paper:
“Seven Braxton County residents on Saturday reported seeing a 10-foot Frankenstein-like monster in the hills above Flatwoods. A National Guard member, [17-year-old] Gene Lemon, was leading the group when he saw what appeared to be a pair of bright eyes in a tree.”
“Lemon screamed and fell backward when he saw a 10-foot monster with a blood-red body and a green face that seemed to glow.”
Terrifying. All witnesses opted to flee the scene.
The story took off. Some witnesses made it onto national TV to tell their story. Even the US Air Force took the story seriously, sending investigators from Project Blue Book to look into it.
According to local news, there was a sighting before that of Ms. May, the 6 children, and the dog. Audra Harper reported that she was walking through the woods with her friends when they saw a ball of fire on a nearby hill. Dismissing the orb, they carried on with their nefarious hike (I assume all activity in the woods to be nefarious).
Soon the orb drew her curiosity. Audra turned around to see the outline of a disturbingly tall figure stepping out from the orb of fire. Seems demon-y to me, she may have thought, before not reporting the incident to anyone. Audra came forward after the media frenzy had already begun.
On 13 September, the creature was seen again. George and Edith Snitowsky's car gave up on them on a rural highway near Flatwoods Village. Their baby didn't seem to mind.
George got out of the car to try to identify the problem. Edith got out of the car for moral support. They smelled the stench of sulfur, before looking up to see the 10-foot creature hovering above them. Understandably horrified, the couple retreated, their baby still in the vehicle.
The Flatwoods Monster reached a clawed hand down and touched their car, it started back up immediately. Mr. and Ms. Snitowsky described the Flatwoods Phantom's face as reptilian, no comment on whether it winked as it disappeared. The couple went on their way, thankful for the creature's roadside service.
Great for the Community
The Flatwoods Monster was never seen again. Flatwoods Village, though, has chosen to never forget their 10-foot visitor. It has become their town mascot, and brings in a lot of tourists every year.
The Braxton County Visitors Center is located in the Flatwoods Monster Museum. That should tell you how seriously the whole area takes the monster business.
Braxton County celebrates their monster with an annual Flatwoods Monster Festival. They hold a parade in honor of their visitor, which they insist was an alien. Further activities include house decorating contests, carnival games, live music, and a pancake breakfast in remembrance of the Monster's flat face.
Several locals make their living by crafting and selling Flatwoods Monster souvenirs.
The Project Blue Book team determined the case to be mistaken identity. What the kids thought was a crashing spacecraft, was actually a meteor. The red streak was also seen in Baltimore, 300 miles (482.8 kilometers) away.
Can you predict what they decided the creature was? If you guessed 'bird', then you win. Where the Mothman was definitely a Sandhill Crane, the Flatwoods Monster was an owl.
That's how it's done. Everything is a bird.