Something is lurking in the deep forests in Flatwoods, in West Virginia’s Braxton County. Although only sighted a few times, the occurrence was so terrifying to witnesses that it will never be forgotten.
Also known as the Braxton County monster, the Flatwoods monster is an entity that was sighted on September 12, 1952, in the forests of the eastern United States. Many have theorized as to what was seen that night, but the question remains: what was the Flatwoods Monster?
A Close Encounter
It was September 12, 1952, and the night was drawing in. At around 7:15 pm in the evening, two brothers names Freddie May and Edward May, and two of their friends Tommy Hyer and Neil Nunley were playing on the lawn of the Flatwoods Elementary School.
All of a sudden, they could see a bright light in the sky. It appeared to them as if something crashed nearby, on the land of G. Bailey Fisher, a local farmer. They ran to the Mays’ nearby home and told what they had seen to Kathleen May.
Kathleen May informed Eugene Lemon, a National Guardsman, about the incident. They all, along with Richie, the family dog, went to the crash site to find out what it actually was.
When they reached the crash site, they noticed a strange metallic smell in the air. Moreover, they also heard a number of high-pitched noises that came from the darkness in front of them. Not scared at this point, they pressed on, intrigued by what had happened here.
Then the group came across a horrific sight. Out of the darkness they saw a ten-foot-tall creature, described as wearing a metal dress and with a spade-shaped head. The hands of the creature were clawed and twisted.
The eyes of the creature glowed orange, and It seemed to them as if the creature was floating just above the ground. Seeing the creature glide and hiss, all of them fled from the area out of terror.
The incident was reported by Lemon and May to the local authorities. The local authorities searched the area throughout the night but were not able to find anything matching the description given to them by the terrified witnesses,
Aside from their obvious distress at what they had seen, the group also suffered physical side-effects in the following days. They experienced vomiting, nausea, and throat irritation for a number of days.
Mrs. Audra Harper, a resident of Flatwoods, also reported seeing a similar creature not long before the Fisher farm incident. According to Harper, while she was walking through the woods near the town of Heaters, she saw the monster.
Harper, along with her friends, was going to a nearby store. Instead of taking the long route, they chose to take a shortcut through the forests. After they had covered only a half-mile (0.8 km) distance, they saw what they thought was a fireball on a hill.
At first, Harper dismissed the sight. However, when she took a glance back, she could no longer see the fire. Instead, she saw a tall man-shaped figure. Out of terror, Harper and her friend fled from the sight.
After the incident of September 12, another mysterious sighting was recorded in the Flatwoods. According to that story, Edith and George Snitowsky, along with their 18-month-old son, were passing through the rural area between Braxton and Clay County.
All of a sudden, their car stopped. Mr. Snitowsky tried to start the car, but all his efforts went in vain. As it was night, the road was completely deserted.
While they were figuring out what to do, they became aware of a foul smell, and their baby suddenly started crying. Then, inexplicably, the darkness was filled with a bright, strange light.
Ahead of them on the road, the couple saw a ten-foot-tall creature in front of the car. The description provided by the couple was very similar to the monster seen on September 12 evening. However, this monster did not wear the spade-shaped hood. Instead, the head of the monster was bony and reptilian.
Explanations and Theories
The incident of September 12 was investigated. However, no evidence of a crash or any monster was found.
In 2000, after the investigation of the case, Joe Nickell from Committee for Skeptical Inquiry came to the conclusion that the bright light seen on September 12 was likely to be a meteor. The pulsating red light seen by the group could have been a hazard beacon, or aircraft navigation light.
The night when the bright light was seen on September 12, a meteor was observed in the three states of Pennsylvania, Maryland, and West Virginia. The flashing red aircraft beacons could also be seen from the area of sightings.
The monstrous creature itself was most likely to be an owl that was magnified due to the shadow. According to Nickell, the perceptions of the witnesses were distorted due to their high level of anxiety. This explanation would certainly fit with the clawed “hands” and glowing eyes, and the appearance of floating.
As an explanation this seems reasonable, but other aspects of the encounter are less easy to explain. What caused the smell, or the fireball clearly seen on the ground? And what, then, did the Snitowskys see in front of their car, with a reptilian head that could not be mistake for an owl?
A Popular Monster
Whether the Flatwood monster was real or not, it has left behind some legacies. A welcome sign was erected by the Flatwood officials in which the town was designated as “Home of the Green Monster.”
In the town, the “Flatwoods Days” festival is also celebrated every year in memory of the legend. A Flatwoods Monster Museum has also been established, dedicated to the sightings.
Moreover, the media in and beyond West Virginia seems to be inspired by the Flatwoods monster legend. A number of video games also contain some references to the legend of Flatwoods monster, and it has become something of a pop culture icon.
It’s been more than 70 years since the incident. However, many people still say that they can smell something metallic in the air, and hear the hissing sound around September 12 each year. The 1952 incident has left a huge impact on the community in this rural area.
Top Image: What was the Flatwoods Monster, and is it still out there? Source: Dave / Adobe Stock.
By Bipin Dimri