Tuesday, July 9, 2024

The Skin Creek Sasquatch (1976)

The Mysterious Monsters movie poster.
You can watch the documentary on YouTube!

Sometimes life imitates art. That seems to be the case one summer night when two Braxton County teens, Ronald Stark and Clifford Barnes, were driving to see an outdoor movie called Mysterious Monsters.  The Mysterious Monsters, which came out in 1976, was a documentary style film, hosted by Peter Graves, featuring stories and evidence of the Loch Ness Monster, Big Foot, and other strange creatures from around the world. Neither boy, however, were prepared for having their OWN unexplained experience that evening!

It was August 17, 1976 at approximately 8:15 p.m. They were leaving I-79 at the Skin Creek exit (if anyone knows where this exit is, please let me know. I've never heard of the Skin Creek area before.) when they spotted an 8-foot tall ape-like creature standing in the road. As they got closer to it, it ran off and disappeared into the brush. 

The Braxton County area is no stranger to monsters. In 1952, it was home to the infamous Flatwoods Monster, a strange, metallic figure with a head resembling a spade, which may or may not have emerged from a downed UFO. However, as previously discussed on Theresa's Haunted History, Braxton County has had quite a few Bigfoot sightings over the years, as well, with many of these creatures all getting lumped under the Braxton County Monster moniker. You can check out my series of articles about that here: The Braxton County Monster Wrap-Up . I guess I'll be adding today's entry to the collection, too!

Anyway, this fun little story comes from a newspaper clipping I came across recently. It's from the Independent, dated 25 August 1976. I came across this clipping during a recent trip to the Gray Barker UFO Files in Clarksburg! I'll be writing about that trip soon, but I wanted to share this lil' tidbit. Out of multiple folders STUFFED with Bigfoot sightings and information, I thought this particular story would be of interest to readers of Theresa's Haunted History. And...it's not the only strange story from that trip that I'll be sharing in the upcoming weeks, so stay tuned for plenty of West Virginia Weirdness!

The Independent
25 August 1976


Monday, July 8, 2024

1897 Gallipolis Phantom Airship

Gallipolis, OH ca. 1914

As previous discussed here on Theresa's Haunted History, 1896-1897 was a huge couple of years for phantom airships flying mysteriously over the continental United States. In April of 1897, the phenomenon finally reached the Ohio Valley, when nearly the whole town of Sistersville, WV saw a strange craft over the town (Sistersville Airship). Two days later, it was reported that 12 foot tall humanoids had invaded the small town of Ogden in Wood County, only about 35 miles south of Sistersville (Ogden Humanoids). But...apparently the phantom airships weren't done traveling South down the Ohio River just yet!

I recently ran across an article published in the Lancaster (Ohio) Eagle-Gazette, dated 31 October 1984. The article relates the experience of Jacob Soden, a man who claimed to have seen a phantom airship over the skies of Gallipolis, OH (directly across the river from Point Pleasant, WV) way back in the year 1897. 

Although no specific date was given, I'm going to tenuously guess that Soden's experience came around the time of the Sistersville airship experience. As the story goes, Soden was coming home from church one Sunday evening. He was downtown, near the Hotel Laska/Gallia Hotel, when he heard a noise like a traction engine blowing steam. He looked up, and about 20 feet over the hotel, he saw what he described as a locomotive with wings, coming out of a train tunnel through a rift in the clouds. The vision temporarily paralyzed him, yet unfortunately he was the only person to have allegedly seen the aerial anomaly. 

So, what do you think? Did Jacob Soden witness the same unexplained aerial phenomena that plagued the citizens of Sistersville in April...or did he witness something else entirely? And why was he the only one to have reported seeing it?  I think its important to point out that Jacob Soden had passed away sometime prior to 1911, so the article in question (which was published in several different newspapers around Ohio) wasn't him reminiscing something that had happened almost 90 years before. Rather, it apparently was quoting an article from the Gallipolis Tribune from the time of the original sighting. 

And...it wouldn't be the only time that Gallipolis was the site of a phantom airship! In 1931, quite a few witnesses saw a phantom airship in both the Gallipolis area and across the river, just outside of Pt. Pleasant (Pt. Pleasant Phantom Airship). I'm not sure what it is about the Ohio River that seems to attract these types of things, but along with Mothman, MIB, and traditional UFOs, we can certainly include phantom airships into the area's collection of High Strangeness! 

Lancaster Eagle-Gazette
31 October 1984

Sunday, July 7, 2024

Beckley Sky Anomaly (1965)

Mount Hope, WV
Source: Town Website

We're wrapping up UFO Week here at Theresa's Haunted History of the Tri-State with a two-for-one astral anomaly over the skies of Beckley, West Virginia. My grandparents lived in Beckley, so I spent many weekends and summers in the area, hearing about local ghosts and legends. My grandma even had some of her own UFO experiences near Harper Road in the late 1990s/early 2000's! Unfortunately for me, what she saw was rather tame compared to the strange sight spotted in the skies above Maxwell Hill and Mount Hope...

In the Beckley Post-Herald, dated October 10, 1965 an interesting little tidbit ran in Donald Meadows' local column. He shared the story of a couple living in the Maxwell Hill area who wished to remain anonymous. Each evening, right around dusk, the couple were seeing something pretty weird in the night sky. As 'Mrs. X' described it: "It first appears to be falling to earth, but then shoots up and spits yellow fire out of its tail. After this, it seems to wriggle like a snake."

'Mrs. X' first spotted the anomaly through the window when she got up to use the restroom, and the couple had seen it several times since. They had contacted the Raleigh Airport, who reported no reports or radar anomalies. The couple put out a plea for anyone else witnessing the anomaly to come forward.

And, someone did. Although they also chose to remain anonymous, a  nearby Mount Hope couple had also been seeing something strange in the night sky. The anonymous wife sent a two-page letter in to Meadows' column describing what she and her husband had seen. As published in in the Beckley Post-Herald from October 17, 1965, the couple enjoyed sitting on their enclosed porch after dark. One evening, they took notice of a large, illuminated ball, coming from the south and moving westward. It had a long tail of fire and was emitting sparks behind it. Less than 45 minutes later, another object appeared, moving along the same path!

The couple assumed that these objects were part of three Russian satellites recently sent into orbit, but a third object was never observed. 

Saturday, July 6, 2024

SRC Worker Sees UFO in Clay County (1968)


West Virginia Rt. 4
Source: Wikipedia

We're trucking right along with UFO WEEK here at Theresa's Haunted History! Today's blog post comes from the October 21, 1968 edition of The Charleston Daily Mail, and tells the experience of a family of seven seeing a UFO in Clay County, WV. The article mentions that what the family saw is similar to what had been seen forty miles away in Summersville. Research into that is on-going...

An unidentified flying object was sighted Sunday night by a State Road Commission employee and his family as they were driving in Clay County.

"We saw it twice," Claude Keenan told the Daily Mail today. "It was a real tremendously bright object."

Keenan said he, his wife, and five children were traveling along W.Va. 4 in Clay County about 10:30 pm when they spotted the object overtop a car. 

"My wife said it was the first time she'd seen a falling star that close. The children were very upset," Keenan said.

"We tried to calm the children and when we looked again, it was traveling alongside a car and then disappeared."

"It looked like that UFO that's been seen around Summersville," Keenan continued, "and where we saw it was 40 miles away."

The Charleston Daily Mail
21 October 1968

Friday, July 5, 2024

UFO Landing in Danese? (1968)

Formerly known as Noel, Danese is a small, unincorporated town in Fayette County, West Virginia. It is also the site of an alleged UFO near-landing one winter day in the 1960's. 

Ben Crookshanks lived along Route 3 in Danese, and was a regular reader of the Beckley Post-Herald, a newspaper from neighboring Raleigh County. Crookshanks wasn't just a reader, however. He also enjoyed writing letters to the editor on a variety of subjects, many of which were published over the years. But, it was a letter received by the Post-Herald in February of 1968 that would earn Crookshanks a place in wild and weird history. Actually, there were two letters....

In a column dated 15 February 1968, Charlotte Fleshman of the Post-Herald noted that two letters had recently been received by the newspaper, both coming in the same mailbag, actually. The first was a letter from the UFO Research Institute, based in Pittsburgh, PA, asking for UFO sightings within a 200 mile radius of them. The second, ironically, was a recent UFO sighting by none other than Ben Crookshanks, which hovered over a hill about half a mile from his home.

According to the article:

Crookshanks  qualifies that, "I couldn't say for certain that it was a flying saucer, but something unusual had been there. There was a hole in the snow about four feet long and about two and one-half feet wide, sort of egg shaped."

"Something with terrific heat had caused it," he wrote, "because the snow was better than a foot thick and the hole was melted into the ground. There was a wide ring of heavy ice around the hole. The ice was blue in color."

The Danese man added that "if it was a flying saucer, it didn't actually land, but only hovered over the snow, because the ground was undisturbed."

Theresa's Note: So, I don't know about you, but when I read that no actual craft was seen...only an impression surrounded by blue ice, my mind jumps to one conclusion: Crookshanks didn't stumble upon a UFO landing site; he found some sewage leakage from an airplane! Although there are plenty of urban legends about this blue ice, airlines assure us that there is no mechanism to actually dump their raw sewage out of a moving plane. However, leaks can and have occurred, leaving chunks of blue ice to cause destruction and perhaps...even ufo legends...in their wake. (Learn more about blue ice HERE)

Beckley Post-Herald
15 February 1968

Thursday, July 4, 2024

MORE Charleston Police Officers See UFO (1978)

The Springfield News-Leader
24 October 1978

Last month, I posted a blog about an incident in 1966 when no less than seven members of the Charleston Police Department spotted a UFO. That wouldn't be the last time that officers in West Virginia's capital city would be plagued with their own personal sightings of unidentified flying objects.

On Friday, October 20, 1978 and lasting throughout the weekend, state police officers received around thirty calls about strange lights in the sky. The reports were all similar; a light that shot quickly across the sky, then would abruptly stop or slow down. The hovering, or super-slow objects were often sighted in groups of three, and shone with a range of lights, including blue, white, green, yellow or red. These lights would dim if an airplane flew above them, then return to their usual brightness once it had passed.

Cpl. Don Sharpe of the West Virginia State Police, who watched at least seven of the lights for over a half an hour said this about the objects: "I couldn't tell you what they were. I've never seen anything move like that, I'll tell you." Sharpe wasn't the only officer to see the lights. At least three state troopers and a number of other law enforcement officers from other agencies saw the lights. One officer even snapped a color photograph, but the images apparently didn't come out well. 

Not only were these objects sighted with the naked eye, but they also showed up on radar at the nearby Kanawha Airport. However, Bill Givens, supervisor for air traffic control, believes that the anomalies, especially those that showed up on Sunday, were merely weather-related phenomena. 

What's interesting is that apparently people around West Virginia were reporting UFOs around this same time, including 20 year old Fairmont State student, Joyce Dehner. On October 24, she saw a UFO on Interstate-79 near Fairmont. You can read about her experience (HERE)!

The Herald-News
24 October 1978

The Indianapolis-Star
24 October 1978

Wednesday, July 3, 2024

Madison Prom Night UFO (1977)


The Raleigh Register
26 May 1977

I hope you're enjoying UFO WEEK here at Theresa's Haunted History of the Tri-State! Today's post is about a UFO reportedly seen by eight people in the Madison area of Boone County, WV on the night of Scott High School's Senior Prom. The same, or a similar object, was also reported a little further north up Corridor G. As reported in the May 26, 1977 edition of The Raleigh Register:

In the initial hours of darkness last Saturday, it was a typical "prom night," with teen-agers celebrating the end of high school, and their parents losing sleep to worry over their safe return home.

Then about three hours before sunup, the prom was quickly forgotten. 

A strange object, flashing blue and orange lights, floated down from the darkened sky, holding several families in rapt attention. 

Mr. and Mrs. Harold Miller, and son Scotty, 17, were in a bedroom when an "eerie, blue light poured through sheer curtains over the window.

"Scotty rushed to the window and saw what he described as a very, very intense light, almost too bright to look at, sort of pulsating," Scott High science teacher Den Isaac noted.

Isaac has taken statements from eight persons who witnessed the same object.

"We'd like to believe it was a genuine UFO sighting, but I am reluctant at this time to draw a definite conclusion," Isaac said.

Scotty Miller watched with fascination as the object flew above a housetop, casting its brilliant light on parked cars and hillsides in the neighborhood.

"When he found out others had sighted the object, he agreed to describe the experience," Isaac said. "Now other reports are beginning to come in."

A UFO buff for the past 14 years, Isaac plans to distribute the official reporting forms supplied by the Air Force to his students. 

Another student, Ronnie Miller, 17,  Mud River Rd., was driving his girlfriend through "Corridor G" when he noticed something unusual in the pre-dawn sky.

"He described the object as elongated, giving off a very intense orange-red light, making no sound and skimming along the treetops," Isaac said. "He thought it might be a helicopter going to crash."