In modern police parlance a long unsolved homicide or other crime may be known as a "cold case," a term we might borrow for such paranormal mysteries as that of the Flatwoods Monster, which was launched on September 12, 1952, and never completely explained. At about 7:15 p.m. on that day, at Flatwoods, a little village in the hills of West Virginia, some youngsters were playing football on the school playground. Suddenly they saw a fiery UFO streak across the sky and, apparently, land on a hilltop of the nearby Bailey Fisher farm. The youths ran to the home of Mrs. Kathleen May, who provided a flashlight and accompanied them up the hill. In addition to Mrs. May, a local beautician, the group included her two sons, Eddie 13, and Freddie 14, Neil Nunley 14, Gene Lemon 17, and Tommy Hyer and Ronnie Shaver, both 10, along with Lemon’s dog.
There are myriad, often contradictory versions of what happened next, but UFO writer Gray Barker was soon on the scene and wrote an account for Fate magazine based on tape-recorded interviews. He found that the least emotional account was provided by Neil Nunley, one of two youths who were in the lead as the group hastened to the crest of the hill. Some distance ahead was a pulsing red light. Then, suddenly, Gene Lemon saw a pair of shining, animal-like eyes, and aimed the flashlight in their direction. The light revealed a towering "man-like" figure with a round, red "face" surrounded by a "pointed, hood-like shape." The body was dark and seemingly colorless, but some would later say it was green, and Mrs. May reported drape-like folds. The monster was observed only momentarily, as suddenly it emitted a hissing sound and glided toward the group. Lemon responded by screaming and dropping his flashlight, whereupon everyone fled.
The group had noticed a pungent mist at the scene and afterward some were nauseated. A few locals, then later the sheriff and a deputy (who came from investigating a reported airplane crash), searched the site but "saw, heard and smelled nothing." The following day A. Lee Stewart, Jr., from the Braxton Democrat discovered "skid marks" in the roadside field, along with an "odd, gummy deposit" - traces attributed to the landed "saucer".
This brief account of the Flatwoods Monster encounter is an excerpt from an article written by Joe Nickell, which was originally published in Skeptical Inquirer November/December 2000. Read this article and others by Nickell, in full, by visiting csicop.org.
Joe Nickell, Ph.D., is Senior Research Fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI) and "Investigative Files" Columnist for Skeptical Inquirer. He is author of numerous books, including Inquest on the Shroud of Turin (1998), Pen, Ink and Evidence (2003), Unsolved History (2005) and Adventures in Paranormal Investigation (2007). He has also appeared in many television documentaries . His personal website is at joenickell.com.
The location where the sighting took place in 1952 is on private property, but the location can be seen from the end of Depot Street in Flatwoods, WV. Click HERE to access a Google map showing this location.
The Original Flatwoods Monster Drawing has been rediscovered in Braxton County! Click here for high resolution photos.
Want your very own piece of Flatwoods Monster history? The ceramic lantern pictured here, originally produced by the Braxton County Junior Chamber of Commerce in the early to mid 1960's as a fundraiser, is the oldest and longest produced novelty keepsake made to commemorate the events of September 12th, 1952. This ceramic lantern is still in production today. John Gibson, a local resident of Braxton County, has these unique items handmade in Marietta, Ohio by a ceramic artisan. Each piece is hand molded, fired, and painted. These great lanterns are available locally at the Flatwoods Monster Museum, Days Inn gift shop, Exxon convenience store (near Wendy's), and Sister's Antique Mall. All located within a couple miles off I-79. These lanterns are also available online HERE or via mail order, directly from John Gibson. John’s contact information is below. Contact John for whole pricing as well.
The Flatwoods Volunteer Fire Department now sells Monster themed t-shirts and hooded sweatshirts through their website. Shirt sales are a direct fundraiser for new equipment the volunteer fire department needs to better serve the greater Flatwoods area. Child and Adult sizes available. T-shirts available in both blue and grey. Available locally at the Flatwoods Monster Museum.
Other Monster themed shirts available HERE
Flatwoods Monster Chairs
In celebration of the legend of the Flatwoods Monster, the Braxton County CVB, in partnership with area towns and businesses, have established a series of landmarks in the form of ten foot tall chairs
made in the likeness of our famous monster! Click the title above or the picture below for more information!
Need a cool activity for kids? Try out these Flatwoods Monster themed coloring sheets! These are free to download and duplicate.
How would you like the Flatwoods Monster to pay a visit to your event? Click HERE for details.