Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The Fireco Varmint

It's been awhile since I shared a transcribed article about something weird and creepy that made local newspapers!  So, today's blog is an article from the Raleigh Register, a local newspaper out of Beckley, WV.  This particular article dates to 17 May 1934.  However, there are loads of articles about what people are calling either the Fireco Varmint, or the Fireco Monster, a really odd creature that haunted this small coal company town in rural Raleigh County, WV.  There was a rash of sightings in the spring of 1934, and then another bunch of sightings in the late summer/early fall of 1936.  After that, the tale was retold, time and time again up through recent history.  Theories abounded as to what this creature could be, but I don't think there was ever any definitive answer. 

Image from the John W. Barriger III Collection, from Coal Camp USA

Head Snatching Fireco Creature Widens Field of Labor

The weird creature reported snatching heads from hogs and dogs in the vicinity of Fireco and terrorizing inhabitants has grown mightily, since first tales of him trickled into Beckley, and in his new-found size and strength widens the field of his depredations.

First described as "about two feet tall," wearing yellowish gray hair, swift as the wind and especially fond of the brains of hogs, he is now said to be four feet in height, six feet long, to leave a track as large as a man's hand, and to have developed an appetite for beef.

Moreover, he is immune to pistol and shotgun fire, according to reports of a sanguinary engagement in which he participated last night on the high grade north of Fireco.

Tomas Roark, 18, and his brother Lawrence, 23, sighting the monster on the grade about 9 o'clock, near their home, fired on him.  Despite the fact that the target had grown from "two feet high" to four feet, and from an indefinite length to "five or six feet," he lumbered away into the underbrush, either not hit or else not harmed by three .38 caliber pistol shots and two 12-gauge shotgun charges which the Roarks sent after him.

Sunday morning, Wallace Bowling, manager Lillybrook's Company Store, found his cow incised in the midriff and much of her internal arrangements outside; she had, obviously, been attacked by the Fireco Monster from over the mountain, and a veterinarian had to be summoned to patch the cow---now reported recovering nicely.

And Sunday morning, Willis Wooten, 15, found a dog dead, his head "knocked off," and nearby the tracks of some creature--tracks "about as big as your hand."

Berlin Shumate, of Lillybrook, also caught sight of the varmint last Wednesday night on the same high grade above Fireco.

But he has not yet been classified.

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