Dating back to 1776, the U.S. has had its share of accounts of monsters moving in and out of shadows, hiding in caves, and surviving in remote areas featuring tangled, wild terrain.
Eight of 50 states have the word, “monster,” in the names of their best known mythical, real, or alleged monsters. Alphabetically, those states are Alaska., Loch Ness Monster of Alaska; Ariz., Mogollon Monster; Ark., Fouke Monster; Del., Swamp Monster of Delaware; Iowa, Van Meter Monster; Mo., Missouri Monster; Neb., Alkah Lake Monster; and Utah, Bear Lake Monster.
Each of the 50 states has one or more monsters, beasts, or creatures as part of its folklore or history. For example, Josh Gates, a TV personality who travels around the world investigating various subjects, including monsters, sent Phil Torres, a scientist; and Jessica Chobot, a researcher of the paranormal; along with the cameraman for “Expedition X,” a Discovery Channel program, to investigate the Van Meter Monster. The Van Meter Monster was a winged creature that sped through the night sky above the coal mining town of Van Meter in southwestern Iowa located in Dallas County. It was encountered several times by the townspeople more than 100 years ago. The encounters were reported in the “Des Moines Daily News.”
The incident that occurred in 1903 drew national attention to the small town situated along the Raccoon River, and the residents of Van Meter claimed that the winged-monster flew to an abandoned coal mine where it met another creature that resembled it. Both escaped from the townspeople into the coal mine after several locals reported had fired their pistols and rifles at it. After the creatures entered the mine shaft, the townspeople quickly sealed the entrance with the Van Meter Monster and presumable its mate inside.
Prominent citizens of Van Meter, the home of Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Bob Feller, described the monster as a half-human-half-man that they estimated to be nine feet tall with huge bat-like wings. They reported that it flew at incredible speeds, faster than any creature that they had ever encountered, and that it had an illuminated horn on its head that shined brightly in the night sky.
Torres and Chobot gained permission from the landowner to explore where the coal mine shaft had been covered over in an attempt to find the coal mine, and a huge earthmover was brought onto the property to find the mine shaft. The episode of “Expedition X” first aired on Discovery on Sept. 8, 2021.
“Expedition Unknown” is a Ping Pong Production of a reality TV program starring Josh Gates that first aired on the Travel Channel in 2015 before switching to the Discovery Channel in 2018.
As for the Commonwealth of Va., the Snallygaster, a dragon-like creature with a metallic beak, sharp teeth and bird-like features, was part of the folklore that German immigrants brought to Va., and the creatures were said to have been spotted on South Mountain, part of the Blue Ridge Mountains and in Frederick and Washington counties in Maryland during President Teddy Roosevelt’s time in office in the early 1900s.
Roosevelt read accounts of the Sallygaster and reportedly considered postponing his planned African safari in order to make preparations to hunt down the beast that the Smithsonian had posted a reward for its hide.
However, it was soon revealed that the entire reporting about the Sallygaster sightings had been a hoax perpetrated by George C. Rhoderick, editor of the “Middletown Valley Register,” and Ralph S. Wolfe, one of the newspaper’s reporters. The entire episode had been fabricated to increase newspaper sales after an earlier report of the citing of the Jersey Devil, the most famous beast of N.J., had increased sales of newspapers farther north.
Whether mythical or real, the most famous creatures, monsters, beasts, or aliens that remain part of the other states’ folklore and history remain fair game for Gates and his TV crew on “Expedition X” to pursue.
West Virginia’s most famous creature is the Mothman, a similar creature to the Van Meter Monster in that the Mothman was bird-like, one that reportedly had glowing red eyes, bat-like wings and the ability to fly rapidly through the night. The Hollywood film, “The Mothman Prophecies,” released in 2002 stars Richard Gere. The supernatural-horror movie was based on true events that occurred in Point Pleasant, W. Va., leading up to the collapse of the Silver Bridge that claimed 46 lives while injuring numerous motorists whose vehicles plunged into the icy waters of the Ohio River on Dec. 15, 1967.
A federal investigation into why the bridge collapsed revealed the cause was a single defective eye-bar in a suspension chain combined with the overload of traffic on the bridge at the time rather than the Mothman that some blamed for the disaster.