West Virginia has a deep and rich history of legends and folklore. The mountainous terrain throughout the state leaves plenty of room for cryptids to naturally hide, and with one of the lowest state populations in the United States, monsters seeking to avoid human interaction have reason to make West Virginia their home. Here are the 11 most popular West Virginia cryptids.
Mothman, hailing from West Virginia, is one of the most popular cryptids in the entire world. Standing nearly 7 feet tall with a wingspan ranging from 10 to 15 feet in length, this dangerous monster is a terrifying sight to see. Imagine a pair of glowing red eyes flying over 100 MPH directly toward you! And when Mothman gets within your vision, you notice his long, sharp claws on his hands and bloodthirsty look on his face.
Those unlucky enough to see Mothman up close often describe the feeling as overwhelming and evil. One witness suffered from a mental breakdown shortly after the sighting. And it only makes sense; Mothman is allegedly a demon, and disasters seemingly follow right after he arrives in town.
During the historic Silver Bridge collapse, one resident saw Mothman in Point Pleasant, W.Va. the day before the bridge crumbled and killed 46 people. Reports of Mothman in Pripyat surfaced after the Chernobyl disaster. And at the end of the twentieth century Mothman struck again in Buynaksk, Moscow, and Volgodonsk before the Russian apartment bombings.
The Mothman museum is located in Point Pleasant, and the annual Mothman festival takes place there as well. This cryptid is said to live in an old World War II munitions plant, known as the TNT area. But don’t be too shocked if you notice him traveling the world — oh, and if you do see him, run.
Stone Man (Yahoo/Yayho)
Nearly every U.S. state has a unique version of Bigfoot, and West Virginia is no different. The Big Red Eye lives in New Jersey; the Wild Men of Indiana lurk in the forests; and the Stone Man — also known as Yahoo or Yayho — frolics Spruce Knob in the Allegheny Mountains.
This beast stands roughly 8 feet tall and has night-black fur, resembling a standing bear at a quick glance. A group of local Cherokee Indians gave the cryptid its name after hearing it scream, “Ya-hoo!” They also call the humanoid Nun’Yunu’Wi, which directly translates to Stone Man. Legend has it that the Cherokees’ weapons couldn’t pierce its skin, hence the name.
Fortunately, Stone Man is rather docile, only actively attacking a few villages and houses by throwing rocks from a distance. For the most part, these cryptids don’t interact with modern society. They prefer the forests and mountains.
That doesn’t mean people haven’t seen them, though. There have been over 100 reported Stone Man sightings. The majority of those reports were in Pendleton, Randolph, Pocahontas, and Greenbrier counties.
The Flatwoods Monster, also known as the Braxton County Monster or Frametown Monster, landed in West Virginia from outer space. On September 12, 1952, a bright light shot through the sky, and this extraterrestrial cryptid found himself on Earth. Multiple witnesses traveled to the glowing ball of fire only to see and smell a burning mist. The creature slowly appeared from the crash.
Standing nearly 10 feet tall and 4 feet wide, the Flatwoods Monster spooked local residents with its round, red head and large, glowing green-orange eyes. The creature sported a robotic suit, covering his reptilian skin. The suit formed behind the creature’s head in the shape of a spade. There is — as there always is — a discrepancy about the color of the suit, but most agree that it’s either black or green. Astonishingly, the Flatwoods Monster has small arms, or perhaps none at all.
This strange beast was originally seen in the Flatwoods of West Virginia, hence his name. A day after the crash, however, a couple’s car suddenly stopped working while driving through Frametown, W. Va. They got out to inspect the car and came into contact with a creature that had the same description as the Flatwoods Monster from the waist down. From the waist up, he looked like a reptilian humanoid. This is where the second name — Frametown Monster — comes from. While this cryptid doesn’t seem overly dangerous, as it didn’t attack anyone when given the opportunity, it surely makes for a scary and mind-boggling encounter.
The Grafton Monster
The Grafton Monster is another sasquatch-like cryptid spotted in West Virginia, though there are some notable differences. At 9 feet tall, this bipedal creature has slick, white, seal-like skin. His head isn’t immediately visible, but it could be close to his chest, covered by his 4-foot wide shoulders. This creature is unlike any other animal in the world.
First discovered on June 16, 1964, by Robert Cockrell, a reporter at Grafton Sentinel newspaper, the Grafton Monster ran along Riverside Drive near the Tygart River. Cockrell described the creature as a “huge white obstruction on the right side of the road standing between the road and the riverbank on a cleared-off section of grass.” The reporter and his friends returned to the area later to search for the creature, but didn’t find anything besides smashed grass. They did, however, hear a whistling sound that followed them regardless of where they looked, as if they were being stalked.
There have been plenty of Grafton Monster sightings throughout Tygart Valley. Some suggest that this creature is simply a polar bear, but others question how a polar bear would have found itself in Grafton, W. Va. Given the option between a polar bear and a 9-foot tall, Bigfoot-like monster, the choice is easy — get out of there as fast as you can either way!
What’s the only thing more terrifying than seeing a werewolf in person? Spotting a Snarly Yow, a mystical, ghostly beast capable of increasing its size at will. Also called the Black Dog, Werewolf, and Dog-Fiend, this spooky creature haunts the hills and mountains of West Virginia.
There are plenty of unfortunate souls who’ve seen this cryptid firsthand, both locals and passerbys. Madeleine Dahlgren showcased these encounters in her book from 1882, South Mountain Magic. The majority of people that crossed paths with the Snarly Yow came from different walks of life.
One of the most frightening encounters came from a hunter known for his hunting accuracy. He saw the Snarly Yow on South Mountain, took aim, and fired his rifle. The bullet passed through the creature and had no effect on the dark apparition. Shocked, the hunter continued to fire shots, but soon realized his weapon wasn’t going to help him. Ultimately, he ran away and left the Snarly Yow in peace.
Snarly Yow sightings still happen to this day. Some claim the mysterious beast chases their cars. Is it looking for food, or just having some fun? The world might never know, as there probably isn’t anyone looking to find out.
Sheepsquatch (White Things)
Sheepsquatch, also known as White Things, could be mistaken for bears from a distance. They have long, pointy heads and noticeable sharp teeth. More goat-like than bear-like, these creatures have horns on their heads. But also four legs with paws and sharp claws.
These West Virginia cryptids gets its name from its white, wool-covered body. Its long, hairless tail is a unique sight, but more distinct is the disgusting sulfur smell it releases when angry. Or, maybe Sheepsquatch just stink all the time. After all, they’re said to live in the TNT area with Mothman.
In the 1990s, Sheepsquatch sightings were common. Children and adults frequently reported “White Things” in the forest. In 1994, two children mistook the cryptid for a bear before noticing the horns and tail. A Navy Seal saw one Sheepsquatch running through the forest, destroying tree branches and bushes as it ran.
Toward the mid-90s, Sheepsquatch seemingly started displaying more aggressive behaviors. One person reported this cryptid attacked a couples car, leaving scratch marks down its side. Fortunately for those outside of West Virginia, all Sheepsquatch sightings have occurred in Boone, Kanawha, Putnam or Mason county. It’ll be interesting to see if Sheepsquatch keep getting more aggressive as humans start to invade their terrority. Hopefully, things remain peaceful.
Native American mythology frequently discusses thunderbirds. These large creatures are said to have powerful enough wings to cause thunder when flapping through the sky. And lighting is said to shoot from their eyes, while rain falls off their backs as they glide through the air. How big does a bird have to be to create thunder with its wings? Big enough to carry a whale on its back, according to legends. Native Americans say these West Virginia cryptids come from large igneous rocks, which hatch the creatures like eggs. While some of these stories are obviously exaggerated, thunderbird sightings have happened.
In 1977, a 10-year-old boy was attacked by a pair of thunderbirds, and plenty of witnesses were around to give statements. While not whale-sized, these creatures had nearly 5-foot, black bodies and wings nearly 8-feet wide. They also had white rings around their necks, 6-inch beaks, and massive claws. One thunderbird carried the boy over 30 feet before dropping him and flying off.
Modern are much closer to pterosaurs than flying whales. One was recently spotted in Florida. Pterosaurs, thought to be extinct for millions of years, are likely still roaming the Earth. It makes Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds that much more frightening, right?
Apple Devils, also known as Apple Pickers, are hairy humanoid creatures from the mountains of West Virginia. Ranging in size — some stand as tall as eight feet, well above the size of an average male human being — these cryptids are both quick and agile. Fortunately, it’s tough for them to sneak around with how dreadful they tend to smell, and their eyes glow like fire.
Local farmers gave Apple Devils their name, as they break fences and branches, stripping apple trees and munching on the fruits. They’re rather harmless, though. And tend to like apple flesh over human flesh. Some reports suggest a playful, jolly nature. One witness said he saw an Apple Devil multiple times, but the creature hid every time he tried to show someone.
These hairy beasts were first seen in the town of Marlinton. But they have also been sighted in Pocahontas, Braxton, and Webster county. The majority of Apple Devil sightings take place in the Monongahela Forest. Despite their evil-sounding name, these West Virginia cryptids are one of West Virginia’s more fun-loving monsters.
A dragon-like creature that terrorized early German settlers, the Snallygaster was originally referred to as the Schneller Geist, meaning “quick spirit.” The half-bird, half-reptile hybrid has demonic features, claws like steel hooks, and a metallic beak with razor sharp teeth. Most prominently, this cryptid only has one eye in the middle of its head.
The Snallygaster makes loud screeching noises, similar to a train. And it reportedly killed Bill Gifferson by piercing his skin with its bill and drinking his blood like a vampire. Completely opposite of the Apple Devil, the “quick spirit” is very dangerous, swooping down from the sky and carrying away its victims. Fortunately, a seven-pointed star might keep this West Virginia cryptid at bay.
The Snallygaster likely originated in Maryland, but frequently travels to West Virginia, where there have been attacks on women and children. It has been seen in both Preston and Pendleton county. West Virginia natives would probably gladly give this terrifying monster back to Maryland if they could.
Said to be nearly 20 feet long and over 500 pounds, the Ogua is one huge river monster! It looks similar to a reddish-brown turtle, but has two heads. Its four legs allow it to walk on land, and its thick tail and shell help protect it from large predators. Living under the water during the day and attacking prey on the banks of the river at night, this fast creature uses its powerful tail to stun its victims and drag them into the water.
Back in the 1700s, one family had a dangerous encounter with this monstrous cryptid. While fishing on the bank of the river, the Ogua attacked a 12-year-old boy and dragged him beneath the surface of the water. The family desperately searched for the child, but a body was never found. When the creature made a second appearance near the family’s cabin, they left before it could inflict any more harm.
Fortunately, Ogua sightings are rare. This West Virginia cryptid lives in the Monongahela River in northern West Virginia and is said to travel through the waters all the way up to Pennsylvania. This alligator-like turtle creature is probably gorgeous to look at, but don’t get too close to the river bank!
Appalachian Black Panther
Black panthers are simply big cats that have pitch-black fur. From leopards and jaguars to bobcats, scientists around the world agree they exist in nature. One creature that doesn’t exist, however, is a black mountain lion — at least, not that scientists have confirmed. The Appalachian Black Panther is exactly that.
The excess of melanin causes the creature’s black appearance, and other than two black mountain lions said to have been displayed in London in the 1700s, there is no evidence of the Appalachian Black Panther’s existence. There are no records of the two displayed in London either. It is only a rumor.
Despite the lack of scientific evidence, Appalachian Black Panther sightings are prominent throughout West Virginia. U.S. Wildlife officials announced that mountain lions went extinct in West Virginia in the 1880s. This might, however, not be the case. Of all of the West Virginia cryptids, the Appalachian Black Panther is the most likely to be a real animal.