Creature Feature: Raystown Ray

Pennsylvania has had a love affair with cryptids for years. From possible werewolf sightings that go back to the 1800’s, to a high report of Bigfoot encounters. It would seem that now it also has it’s very own lake monster.

 

Raystown_ray

A wee bit of the loch in my PA? What in tarnation!

Raystown lake was created to control flooding in 1905. Years later the dam that had formed the lake was repaired and the first sightings of “Ray”, as the locals called him, began. It is said that the creature resembles the Loch Ness Monster, only with a much more lizard-like face and is very shy of people. Some Biologists speculated that if the creature were to truly exist it would have to be an herbivore. This assessment came from a variety of reasons, such as animal life in the lake not being enough to support a large meat eater for very long.

A famous sighting occurred back in 1962 during the Raystown Ski Club Watershow, where many of the physical descriptions of the creature came from. People have claimed to see Raystown Ray as early as 2007.

My take on the whole situation is that it is very unlikely to be an actual surviving dinosaur that many have speculated lake monsters of being. The reason for this is the newness of the actual lake and the lack of any sightings even remotely similar to the creature before Raystown lake was created. However, the sightings and photos do give me pause and make me wonder what could be under the surface of the water.

Sources

Mysterious Universe

Cryptid Wiki

 

 

 

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Creature Features Get Their Own Page

I’ll still be posting them to the blog but I figured why not also add a page so that they can be easily searched. You can see the new page here

creature featured2 image

Hope that makes things a little better on the searching part, still working on some upgrades to the site as well and will be finishing some videos soon. Dustland Radio Season One will be wrapped up in the next few weeks and I’ve got to get cracking on the recording of season two.

Stay frosty out there

drunk

Creature Feature: The White Things

There aren’t many creatures through the Appalachian mountains that can boast such wide spread sightings as The White Things. These cryptids take on many forms: sometimes bipedal, Bigfoot-like creatures, more often they are seen in the shape of hellhounds.

Reports of them always hint at a spectral, ghostly quality to them. As if the White Things are more spirit than animal. Some claim that they attack in a vicious strike only to disappear without leaving a single wound or drop of blood.

Native American myths claim that White Things hint at a tragic, imminent death. In this way, they have become something like the American banshee. There is an obvious connection with the European black dogs, which are also omens of death and misfortune.

 

Direwolf-albino

So mystical, so majestic

 

The white things have many myths around them and sightings often pop up in some of the oddest places. For example, some people allegedly reported seeing a white creature in Point Pleasent around the same time as the Mothman sightings. Another account, this time as early as the 90’s, detailed an encounter with a white-haired creature that seemed to float next to their speeding car.

A possible explanation for the origin of the creature comes from a South Carolina folktale. The story goes that there was a traveling salesman and his white dog who unwittingly stumbled across a murder scene. The local townspeople falsely accused the stranger and lynched him from a tree. His loyal dog tried to fend off the men but was shot and wounded. Later the people found that they’d hung the wrong man. The dog wouldn’t let anyone near his master’s body. Then both body and hound disappeared one day.  A ghostly dog then began to attack the people in the lynch mob one by one, either seriously wounding them or killing members of their family.

To me, this cryptid falls into a fascinating place. I’ve always thought that albino creatures have an almost mystical air about them and in my mind, it wouldn’t be a stretch to think that seeing one in the wild could lead to these strange stories.

Sources:

cryptidz wikia

american folklore

 

Creature Feature: Black Shuck

Black Shuck is one of the most well-known encounters with a hellhound or a black dog. Much like the White Things of American folklore, black dogs are European symbols of death and ill omen. Black Shuck itself has become iconic on the British Isles.

Legend has it that Black Shuck has been sighted for generations. Its form varies at times, some say it had flaming eyes but was only the size of a cat, while others might say that it was the size of a horse and floated on a trail of mist. Always on roads, often on crossroads, which have always had a mystical connection. Crossroads allegedly act as a pathway between the spirit world and the living, which might explain Black Shuck’s ghostly appearance.

 

Blackshuck1

He’s a good boy…a good…boy

 

There is speculation that Black Shuck is actually just a reimagined retelling of Viking folklore surrounding the hunting hounds of the gods. Could also be a remodeled version of Cerberus, the three headed hellhound that guarded the kingdom of the dead. Still, there are curious connections to old pagan myths from the pre-Christian faiths that peppered ancient Europe.

One famous account of a Black Shuck sighting comes out of Suffolk England in 1577. A church there claimed that the beast tore its way through the congregation like a whirlwind, killing two and leaving scorch marks on the stone floor. Called the devil’s footprints, these marks can still be seen at the church.

Most recently in 2014 news paper outlets in England claimed that the body of Black Shuck might have been discovered. Archaeologists digging in an ancient abbey near Suffolk are said to have found a 7foot long skeleton of a dog buried in a shallow grave. Preliminary tests on the bones and soil indicate that the skeleton may date back to that fateful encounter in 1577.

My own take on Black Shuck is that people have always held on to the idea of death omens. They need some reason to make sense of a sudden tragedy, so their grief and fear take on a form. Something to blame and curse. Black Shuck and other heralds of death, such as the European Banshee, or the White Things of America, served as a way for people to cope with mortality.

Sources:

http://cryptidz.wikia.com/wiki/Black_Shuck

Possible Skeleton Found

 

Creature Feature: Van Meter Visitor

A flying creature terrorized the small town of Van Meter Iowa for days. Seemingly out of nowhere it rose up from the mines and cut a swath of panic through the town. Descriptions of the monster defy belief. Said to be half man, half animal with large bat wings and a foul stench. Like a villain straight out of a comic book the beast was impervious to bullets and fired a red beam of light from its forehead. Sounds far fetched but to the people of that small town, including well-respected figures, it was all too real.

 

vanmeter2

“Vulture Honkers” Might just be the greatest thing I’ve ever read

The tale of Van Meter Visitor was lost for some time until records of the strange encounter were located in the town archives. It all started one night in 1903 when a man looked out his bedroom window and noticed an odd beam of light coming from the roof of the building next door. He went outside to investigate and watched as a dark shape jumped from one roof to the next, an inhuman feat due to the distance between the buildings.

The very next night one Dr. Alcott woke up to a bright light shining him in the face from his window. Fearing looters or other ruffians he took up arms and went outside to face the threat. Instead of robbers, he found himself face to face with a tall creature that walked on two legs and had large bat-like wings. The odd light was coming from a horn on the monster’s head.  The doctor fired upon the beast but the bullets seemed to have no effect, which caused the man to flee.

vanmeter1

Totally not Sauron from the X-men…promise 

There were several other sightings of the Visitor as it was being called. A guard for the local bank shot at it one night, a marksman saw it scanning the town and took aim at it only to be treated to an awful stench. People witnessed it climb down a pole in the same way a bird might, using its beak like mouth to aid in balance. It then left the town in the direction of the old mines where terrifying sounds began to emanate.

It was then seen again near the mine but this time it wasn’t alone, a second creature was with it and the whole town banded together to drive the monsters away. Armed to the teeth the townspeople of Van Meter opened fire and managed to drive the winged creatures back into the mine, where they sealed the entrance.

vanmeter3

Now that doesn’t look haunted by the soul of an angry humanized pteranodon 

And that was that. The people didn’t try to sensationalize and spread the tale, they buried it like they did the Visitor. Some of the buildings and locations found in the original reports can still be visited. Upon uncovering those reports and learning of the strange case, people have attempted to find an answer as to what the Van Meter Visitor actually was.

Once again there are those that think that it is another Alien sighting. Some think that it was mass hysteria or even a well-done hoax. The vast majority point out the connection between pterosaurs and the description of the Visitor. They then go on to suspect that it was, in fact, another cryptid known to the Native Americans as a Thunderbird. Some of the physical characteristics are the same and as far as creating storms, the bioluminescence from the Visitor’s horn could equal the Thunderbird’s lightening.

Since that has been the last sighting of the Van Meter Visitor, we may never know for sure what it was but it is none the less a fascinating case in cryptozoology.

Creature Feature: The Ningen

The ocean is vast and filled with mysteries. 71% of the Earth’s surface is water and man has only explored roughly 5% of the oceans. It seems every year brings a new discovery, a new life form previously unknown to us is dragged up from the dark waters. Sometimes old fisherman’s tales are proven to be true while some are left unfound at the bottom of the sea. Such is the Ningen.

Ningen

“We all float on…” 

Ningen, Japanese for “Human”, was first spotted sometime in the 1990’s. Massive, blubbery and white as snow, people were understandably shocked at the sightings. What disturbed them the most about the creature was its human shape. Often described as having long arms with five fingered hands, defined legs or tentacles and an obvious face with eyes and a mouth. One sighting involved a ship that at first thought they had encountered a submarine but further, inspection revealed organic movement and a color similar to smooth ice.

The Ningen has primarily been sighted in cold Antartic waters. Which understandably does lead some credence to the thought that the cryptid might actually just be oddly shaped ice. Ningens also seem to be nocturnal. While reports did come in before, interest in the creature didn’t catch fire until a post in 2007.

ningen2

Oh what would we do without you Digital Globe?

Someone claiming to be a government employee aboard a whale research ship posted on 2channel, a popular message board in Japan. The witness claimed to have sighted the creature, along with the rest of the crew, one day and frantically snapped pictures of the beast. The supposed photos were then kept from the public by the government, which some speculate have known about the creatures for some time.

The post proved so popular that Mu,  a Japanese magazine with focuses on the mysterious, did a feature on the creature. It proved to be so popular that readers began hunting for more reports and managed to unearth more information on the elusive cryptid. This wild search eventually yielded a video of the alleged creature.

Sighting begins about 1:25 in

Possible explanations for the Ningen range from the ever popular Alien theory, which has an interesting tie in with USO sightings, to an albino whale and even a prehistoric sloth. The whale theory to me holds more water, pun intended because it seems to fit the supposed massive size of the Ningen. Though the human shape of the creature does give me pause and I can only imagine how unsettling it must have been to see it raise up from the dark waters.

*If you’ve enjoyed what you’ve read so far and would like to send me a little love, please feel free to check out my patreon page*

Sources:

http://mysteriousuniverse.org/

http://cryptidz.wikia.com/wiki/Cryptid_Wiki

Creature Feature: The Mothman

(Read The Full Article Below) 

I live in West Virginia, and for some reason this state is a hot bed for strange encounters. From the previously posted Vegetable Man to the Flatwoods Witch, the mountain state is full of monsters, none of which are more famous than The Mothman of Point Pleasant.

It all started on November 12, 1966 with a town over in Clendenin. Grave diggers were working into the late hours when they saw something large take off from a thicket of trees. They swore it wasn’t just a big bird. It looked like a man, a man with wings.

artistic mothman

An artistic representation by Cathy Wilkins of…MOTHER OF GOD, I’LL NEVER SLEEP AGAIN!!!

After that, Mothman was seen numerous times in different places throughout West Virginia. Most of the sightings seemed to occur around an old munitions factory called the West Virginia Ordinance Works or as the locals called it, the “TNT”.

The TNT area was overgrown and dotted with storage buildings made of concrete and dozens and dozens of abandoned tunnels. It was also, in the 1970s, said to be so polluted that it could be labeled a disaster site. This actually ties in with a local legend as to the Mothman’s origins.

Some people believe that the Mothman was actually a bird that was mutated by the chemical runoff from the plant. Now, this theory doesn’t really hold much water since no chemical used in the creation of gunpowder has been known to cause genetic mutation. However, there are those who believe that to this day.

It was the TNT area that played stage to the closest look anyone has ever had of the Mothman. On November 15, 1966, four friends were cruising through the TNT. Roger and Linda Scarberry and Steve and Marry Mallette had no idea what they would come across that night.

As accounts go, it was Linda who spotted the creature first. She saw a pair of glowing red eyes further up the road. When the headlights washed over the creature, they all stared in shock. Over 7 feet tall, it stood on two legs. Its body was covered in a gray/brown hide and its wings were folded.

The four were horrified of the creature. Many who have claimed to see the Mothman state that it makes them feel scared, as if it were malevolent. Some even become sick at the sight with an illness that lasts for several days.

They turned their car to speed away and panicked as the monster gave chase. It rose up into the air with a 10-15 foot wingspan and followed right along with the car, which was supposedly going 100 mph.

scarberry newspaper cliping

An article from Athens Ohio about the Scarberry sighting

Where there were dozens and dozens of sightings, even a few encounters with the Men In Black (who were keen on having witnesses keep their mouths shut,) everything seemed to come to a head with the collapse of the Silver Bridge.

On December 15, 1967, the suspension bridge collapsed and sent 31 cars into the freezing water. Sadly, 46 were killed, and while 9 survived, they were injured. Many claim to have seen the Mothman flying over the bridge before it collapsed. After the tragedy, the sightings mysteriously stopped.

There has been a photo circulating around this case for years which at first glance adds some credence to Mothman being at the scene of the bridge but upon closer inspection the supposed image is just part of the bridge itself.

mothman bridge2

Just a metal connector at he bridge top

 

Now there have been tons of theories as to what the Mothman actually is. Anything from the previously mentioned mutated bird to a sand hill crane…

sandhill crane

Come at me bro!

and an owl…

barred_owl

What is an Owl’s favorite subject? Owlgebra

However it seems a little hard to confuse an owl with a 7 foot tall human like creature. There is another odd connection between West Virginia’s Mothman, with that of Cornwall England’s Owlman (which was seen in 1976). The two sound nearly identical in terms of appearance, and with the time-frame so close together it wouldn’t be a stretch to think that they might be one and the same. (The fact that they were seen so far apart could play into the idea of migration.)

Something that did stand out to me was the long held belief by people in and around Point Pleasant that the area suffers from a curse. Legend has it that a Native American chief called Cornstalk was murdered near where the town stands today. He was killed along with his children in an act of betrayal and cursed the land.

Interestingly enough, there is a Shawnee myth about the Waupee which could explain the Mothman. The legend tales of a lonesome man who fell in love with a star maiden. They had a son and were invited to the star chief’s home in the sky. There they took the gift of a hawk feather and spread their great wings to soar across the sky.  (While a beautiful story, it doesn’t fully explain the creature. However, it goes to add credence to the idea that this being has been seen before. Myths and legends were often used to explain the explainable, after all.)

My take on the Mothman is one of hope. The creature itself ended up breathing life back into the town of Point Pleasant after the book The Mothman Prophecies and the movie with the same name came out. The little town used the monster to put themselves on the map and have become a mecca in the cyptozoological scene. While sightings have all but died out, in one town at least, the hope that something is out there is still strong.

mothman festival

Stay frosty

Sources:

http://www.roadsideamerica.com

http://cryptidz.wikia.com/wiki/Cryptid_Wiki

https://www.prairieghosts.com/