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Mothman, Alien or Bizarre Prophet: Who is Indrid Cold?

Dean Traylor is a freelance writer and teacher who writes about various subjects, including education and creative writing.


If there’s an alien flying a UFO, a sinister creature lurking in the West Virginia countryside, or a grinning “Man in Black” espousing prophesies, then it must be Indrid Cold. The legend of Indrid Cold is unique. In the annuals of modern lore, no man (or thing) has been connected to other legends as he has been. From the Mothman Prophesies to the “Men in Black” UFO conspiracies, his name has surfaced as a likely source for the two. With so many sources, it’s hard to tell who or what Indrid is.

Was he the Mothman?

Indrid’s origins appears to come from West Virginia. This particular portion of the legend is a fact. The recorded first account of him was made in John Keel’s book, The Mothman Prophesies. The Mothman was a winged creature purported to show up in the Point Pleasant, West Virginia near the Ohio Border just before a catastrophe was about to happen. Keel was an investigative reporter of paranormal claims who came to the region to research the Mothman.

According to Keel, he received a mysterious phone call. The caller, who identified himself as Indrid Cold, gave him a “cryptic” and supposedly prophetic message. Further investigation by Keel revealed that many people who saw the Mothman also saw a person they nicknamed the “Grinning Man” or “Man in Black”. Some of these eye witnesses claimed that Indrid Cold and the Mothman were the same.

The caller, who identified himself as Indrid Cold, gave him a “cryptic” and supposedly prophetic message.

Possibly the most infamous of all the sightings occurred on January 11, 1967. The Mothman was spotted hovering above Silver Bridge, an eye-bar chain suspension bridge which connected Point Pleasant and Gallipolis, Ohio on the opposite side of the Ohio River. A month after the sighting, the bridge collapsed, killing 46 people. Since that time, the Mothman was seen as a prophet of doom. And, with the accounts of Indrid Cold’s cryptic phone call, he too was given the same title.

Later, Keel would get a better description of Indrid after he interviewed two New Jersey teenagers who claimed to have seen a “tall man with a big old grin”. They described him as having no hair, ears, or nose; beady eyes and a big grin; and wearing a green suit that shimmered under the street lights.

Mothman/Indrid Cold legend persisted for years. Eventually, Keel would release his book, turning the local folklore into a national legend. This connection between the two would become a pivotal part of the movie version of Keel’s book.

Indrid Cold or Mothman?

Indrid Cold or Mothman?

An Alien or a Weird Guy

However, there are those unconvinced of tKeel's claim. Also, there are claims that Indrid Cold’s real origin was from another West Virginia town. According to a writer on a blog from a group entitled: “Weird Tales Paranormal Investigation Organization” the Indrid Cold story happened in the town of Parkersburg. Also, the writer (who evidently is a resident of this town) states that Indrid “was a strange man that came out of nowhere.”

“I think he was an alien man in black but he wasn’t in Point Pleasant,” he wrote, “because he seemed nicer than the other one that was described in [Point Pleasant].”

According the blog, Indrid Cold arrived in town in 1966, about the same year when the Mothman was being reported in Point Pleasant. To support his claims, the writer included a lengthy taped 1966 interview with a witness.

The person, salesman “Woody” Woodrow Derenberger stated in the interview that he came across Indrid Cold while traveling on Interstate 77. He claimed seeing a car being chased by an unidentified flying object. The car sped off; however, the UFO swerved and stopped in front of Derenberger’s truck, forcing him t slam the brakes.

After it landed, Derenberger stated, a man left the “object” and approached his car. He was described as being 6 feet tall, 185 pounds, between 30 to 40 years of age, and wearing a suit similar to the typical MIB (Men In Black) appearance (Mothmantrack.com, 2011). Also, he was grinning from ear to ear.

“He told me to roll down the window,” he said. “He actually told me to roll down the window on the right hand side of the truck.”

The stranger, who would later identify himself as Indrid Cold, told Derenberger not be frightened and that “we don’t’ mean any harm.” The meaning of “we” was never fully explained.

In another blog, Mothmantrack.com, the writer claims that Derenberger and Indrid communicated telepathically for 5 to 10 minutes. The topic of their conversation was less than earth shattering; it seemed that Indrid wanted to know what the “distant lights” were. Derenberger stated it was in Parkersburg. Also, much of the interview was convoluted (In fact, in the middle of it, the reporter asked Derenberger if he was a "drinker of intoxicated drinks").

Derenberger claimed after the conversation that he was told tIndrid would communicate with him in the future. Immediately, Indrid boarded his saucer and took off.

The end result of this strange tale had an effect on the legend of Indrid Cold. Instead of being a part of the Mothman legend, he was now associated with UFO lore.

Woodrow Derenberger Interview:"The Man Called Cold"

His Return?

The 1960s ended and the legend of Indrid cooled. However, he wasn’t forgotten. In the new millennium, several blogs and websites were created in his honor. Also, websites such as Unexplainable.Net were reporting that Indrid had returned from outer space.

On January 20, 2011, Chris Capps wrote an entry for the blog entitled “Has Indrid Cold Returned?” In it he described a 2003 sighting of a “Grinning Man in his vehicle hovering over the treetops at an altitude of 200 feet. “

Indrid Cold may have started as a shady character involved with the Mothman legend. However, over the years, he managed to become a part of UFOlogy as well as a legend in his own right. Real or imagined, Indrid has staked his place in modern lore. Maybe, his longevity is responsible for the big grin he has.


© 2014 Dean Traylor


John Hansen from Gondwana Land on December 11, 2014:

Interesting hub Dean. I had heard of The Mothman but not Indrid Cold. Guess I need to watch the Mothman Prophesies. Voted up.

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