West Virginia's Creepy Critters

Many label West Virginia as boring, but do they know what’s lurking in the trees?   

The forest-covered state, established in 1863, is located in a region of the United States known as Appalachia. It is custom in this culture and has been for generations to share beliefs and traditions through stories of folklore, or in other words, by telling. 

 According to West Virginia Tourism, there are five notable characters from “mythical mountain monsters” stories that call Appalachia home.

Visitors and residents of Point Pleasant, WV are welcomed with access to Revolutionary War history, lovely views of the Kanawha and Ohio rivers and most notably the reported stomping grounds of a giant man with red eyes and great wings. “The Mothman” was first seen by Linda Scarberry in November of 1966 according to The History Channel, although there is other information about earlier sightings. He is said to be a hybrid between a man and bird who began appearing before a bridge collapse in 1967. His timely entrance led many to believe he was attempting to warn others of the impending disaster. Nowadays, a grand metallic statue reaching around 12 feet tall stands in the town of Point Pleasant to commemorate the puzzling creature. The city, according to West Virginia Tourism, also holds an annual Mothman festival on the 3rd weekend in September.   

Check out our video coverage of the Mothman Festival

About two hours east of Point Pleasant is a town called Flatwoods. To natives of West Virginia, it is not only known as the middle of the state but also the home of the “Braxton County Monster”. This creature was first seen in 1952, according to West Virginia Tourism, by a group of young boys who decided to check out the landing sight of what they considered to be a UFO. According to Braxton County’s website, reporter Gray Barker quickly arrived at the scene and was able to interview one of the boys, Gene Lemon. Lemon described seeing a “pulsing red light” that transformed into a “man-like figure” with a “round red face” and a “pair of shining animal-like eyes.” After the scene calmed, all that remained was a “sticky gooey substance”. The monster was never seen again, but the town of Flatwoods continues to “hold tightly to this folklore”, according to West Virginia Tourism. Beginning in 1973, the town has continuously sold “ceramic Braxton County Monster lanterns.”

Next stop, Logan County, WV. As mentioned by West Virginia Tourism, Mamie Thurman, a beautiful socialite, was found murdered in a blackberry patch in 1932. Her landlord was ultimately charged for the crime; however, many who live in Logan County are suspicious of this verdict. To this day, the location of Thurman’s body is unknown, and it is believed that she haunts Logan County’s “hills and hollows looking for justice and a final place to rest.” According to West Virginia Tourism, “many Logan residents believe that if you put your car in neutral on Holden’s 22 Mine Road, near the spot where Mamie Thurman’s body was found, her ghost will pull you up the hill.”

Other spooky creatures of West Virginia include a weeping woman statue in Parkersburg, WV that is said to be “a great judge of character” as she messes with people “up to no good” and a pair of mummies created in 1888, according to West Virginia Tourism. The mummies were introduced to the public when they were incorporated into P.T Barnum’s circus tours. Eventually, they were transported back to WV. They can be seen today in the Barbour County Historical Society Museum. 

Stories and tales unique to these areas help develop an appreciation and understanding, not only for the state but for the area’s culture and history as well. Everywhere has a story. The Mothman, Flatwoods Monster, Weeping Statue and Mummies are exclusive characters that explain West Virginia’s. The “eerie spirits”, whether they are real or not, have been alive for years and we have Appalachian tradition and mountaineer pride to thank. 

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Edited by Geena Anderson