One September evening in 1952, people from Washington DC, Virginia and West Virginia witnessed a ball of fire streaking through the darkening sky. None of them had any way of knowing that strange light would change the small town of Flatwoods, West Virginia forever.
The Green Monster of Flatwoods put the small town on the map, and had a profound impact on those who had encountered it personally. West Virginia is already known for its moth man sightings, but what has also come to be known as the Braxton County Monster, left a lasting impact.
The Story of the Green Monster
Edward May and his brother, Fred, were thirteen and twelve years old in 1952. They were playing with their ten year old friend, Tommy Hyer, on the evening of September 12th, when the three boys saw the ball of light pass over their heads and crash into a neighbor’s field.
Naturally, they bolted to the May residence to tell Ed and Fred’s mom, Kathleen, what had just happened. After a call to the authorities, their mom went with them to check it out. Along the way, they ran into fourteen year old Neil Nunley, ten year old Ronnie Shaver and new National Guard recruit, Eugene Lemon, who was 17 at the time. Eugene also had is dog with him.
The party walked until they reached the crest of a nearby hilltop, where they spotted a large, pulsing ball of fire. Throughout the area, pockets have acrid mist had formed. Soon, its stench of overheated metal burned their eyes, noses and throats.
The dog broke free, and ran through a patch of mist. Within moments, it turned tail and took off as quickly as it could.
Off to the side, the group noticed two smaller lights glowing off to the side of the crash. When Eugene shined his light in that direction, they were confronted with the creature.
Its ten foot tall green body was topped with a head with bulging eyes. The creature either wore a spade shaped cowl, or its head was shaped like that. It also wore a long, pleated skirt.
Once the being was hit by the light, it let out a loud hiss and glided at the group. Before it reached them, it veered in the direction of the pulsating wreck.
At this point, the group followed the dog’s example, and ran home.
Lemon and his dog paid the highest price from this encounter.
His dog had apparently made its way back into town, where it was violently ill on one of the home’s porches. It died two days later.
The National Guardsman must have gotten a stronger dose of the mist than his companions because that night, he grew extremely ill. The family doctor who cared for him was reportedly worried for his life. Thankfully, he recovered, but he refused to go back to that spot again.
Kathleen May had called the authorities earlier, but they had failed to make an appearance right away. This was because they were already referring to another incident. There were reports of two other crashes that night.
The following day, the Sherriff, co-owner of a local newspaper and a few others returned to the site. They found turned up land, compressed grass and a viscous, black fluid coating everything. This all pointed to a crash of some sort, but there were no debris present.
The United States Air Force did perform an investigation, as these sorts of encounters were still being officially investigated by the US government back then.
The witnesses were all questioned repeatedly, alone and in groups, but the story stayed the same each time. If the children were lying, they did it far better than most.
As dramatic as this encounter was, there have been other sightings reported as well.
- The week before, two women reported seeing the same or a very similar creature in Weston, WV. One of the women had to be hospitalized afterwards.
- The following night, a couple reported an encounter with the creature when they were driving ten miles southwest of the town. Their car had stalled at the side of the road. As they were sitting there, the creature appeared and began to approach the vehicle. The scent of overheated metal accompanied it. It disappeared back into the woods before reaching them, and shortly thereafter, they witnessed an orange sphere rising into the sky.
- In the years between 1999 and 2010, Mexican police reported encounters with a creature or creatures with very similar descriptions to the creature from 1952. At least one of the officers needed medical attention after his experience.
As time passed, more information became available.
There were reports that the United States Air Force had received orders to shoot any sighted UFO down the week before. The mysterious lights seen over Washington DC that same night, makes the possibility of military action even more likely.
That year, there were also quite a few wildfires ravaging Texas, and the smoke was drifting as far as West Virginia. That, combined with the fumes emitted by the numerous nearby factories may have had something to do with the crash.
Interestingly, one of the doctors who had treated the victims stated that the symptoms they had experienced was extremely similar to what people exposed to mustard gas go through.
This encounter, like almost all other UFO sightings and alien encounters comes with an official explanation put forth by the United States government.
The creature was explained away as being nothing more than a barn owl perched on a branch of one of the nearby trees. Since the bird has a heart shaped, pale face, officials said that it would be easily mistaken for a monster when light was shone on it. The hiss and rush of movement was apparently the startled owl taking flight.
The light in the sky and damaged earth was apparently the result of a meteor streaking through the sky and touching down on earth.
The sickness was explained away as hysteria.
Although some people may believe that explanation without question, there’s still a great deal of doubt about its accuracy.
Whether this was a real alien encounter or not, it still had a strong effect on the town. When you enter Flatwoods’s city limits, you’ll be greeted by a sign, reading “Welcome to Flatwoods: Home of the Green Monster”.
They also held a 50th Anniversary celebration in 2002 for the remarkable event.
Even to those of us who haven’t been to Flatwoods in person, the story is still exceptionally compelling, and the town has enjoyed popularity as a tourist destination because of it.
Emilie S Peck (author) from Minneapolis, MN on January 21, 2013:
cprice - It might be. I'll be doing more research on the mothman phenomenon, too. :)
Glimmer - Thank you!
Claudia Porter on January 20, 2013:
Interesting hub. Passing on to my husband who loves things like this. They make one wonder. Pinned too.
Chris Price from USA on January 19, 2013:
It might be related to the Mothman of Point Pleasant, also in WV.