; Phantoms and Monsters: Pulse of the Paranormal

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Bizarre Winged Creatures Terrorize Iowa Hamlet

Mark your calender for August 25th - Chad Lewis, author of The Van Meter Visitor: A True and Mysterious Encounter with the Unknown will be joining us live on 'Beyond The Edge' Radio. The following narrative is the original news account of the encounters:


The World, New York, New York - 5 October 1903

Awful Winged Form Shedding Dazzling Light Terrifies an Iowa Town

DES MOINES, Ia., Oct. 4–The town of Van Meier, containing 1000 persons, is terribly wrought up by what is described as a horrible monster. Every man, woman and child in the town is in a state of terror, and fully half of them fail to close their eyes in slumber except in broad daylight.

Friday night while the population was keeping the dreadful vigil every electric light in the city was kept burning to satisfy the most timid.

The monster put in its appearance Monday night. U.G. Griffith, an implement dealer, drove into town at 1 A.M. and saw what seemed to be an electric searchlight on Maher and Grigg’s store. While he gazed it sailed across to another building and then disappeared.

His story was not believed the next day. But the following night Dr. A. C. Olcott, who sleeps in his office on the principal street, was awakened by a bright light shining in his face.

He grabbed a shotgun and ran outside the building where he saw a monster, seemingly half-human and half-beast, with great bat-like wings. A dazzling light that fairly blinded him came from a blunt, horn-like protuberance in the middle of the animal’s forehead and gave off a stupefying odor that almost overcame him.

The doctor discharged his weapon and fled into his office, barring doors and windows and remained there in abject terror until morning.

Peter Dunn, cashier of the only bank in the town, fearing bank robbers, loaded a repeating shotgun, with shells filled with buckshot, and prepared to guard his funds next night. At 2 o’clock he was blinded by the presence of a light of great intensity.

Eventually he recovered his senses sufficiently to distinguish the monster through the window. The plate glass and sash were torn out and the monster disappeared. Next morning imprints of great three-toed feet were discernible in the soft earth. Plaster casts of them were taken.

That night Dr. O.W. White saw the monster climbing down a telephone pole, us a beak much in the manner of a parrot. As it struck the ground it seemed to travel in leaps, like a kangaro, using its huge, featherless wings to assist. It gave off no light. He fired at it, and believes he wounded it. The shot was followed by an overpowering odor. Sidney Gregg, attracted by the shot, saw the monster flying away.

But the climax came Friday night. The whole town was aroused by this time. Prof. Martin, principal of the schools, decided that upon the description that it was an ante-diluvian animal.

Shortly after midnight J. L. Platt, foreman of the brick plant, heard a peculiar sound in an abandoned coal mine, and as the men had reported a similar sound before, a body of volunteers started an investigation. Presently the monster emerged from the shaft, accompanied by a smaller one. A score of shots were fired without effect.

The whole town was aroused and vigil was maintained the rest of the night, but without result, until just at dawn, when the two monsters returned and disappeared down the shaft. – Des Moines, Ia., Cor. New York World


The Unsolved Mystery of the Van Meter Visitor

A bizarre legend and unsolved mystery which has haunted a small Iowa town for more than 100 years is the subject of a new book called The Van Meter Visitor: A True and Mysterious Encounter with the Unknown For several nights in 1903, the small town of Van Meter, Iowa was terrorized by a giant bat-like creature that emerged from an old abandoned mine.

The identity of this mysterious monster has never been discovered, but over 100 years later a new book is retelling the amazing tale and hoping to shed some light on what happened all those years ago.

The legend dates back to the fall of 1903, when several of Van Meter’s most well respected citizens reported a half human, half animal with enormous, smooth bat wings flying about.

The creature is described as moving at speeds the townsfolk had never witnessed before, plus it let off a powerful stench and shot a blinding light from its horned head.

Each time the townsfolk encountered the creature they fired their guns at it, but this appeared to have no impact on the creature.

On the first night it was first spotted flying across the building tops. The next evening it was spotted by both the town doctor and bank cashier Peter Dunn who took a plaster cast of its 'great three-toed tracks.'

On the third night, a man spotted it perched atop a telephone pole. Another resident who saw it, described the monster as hopping like a kangaroo, while the local high school teacher likened it to a devil.

Scared and angered by what they had witnessed, the townsfolk followed the creature to an abandoned coal mine near an old brickyard where they heard a noise from the mine.

‘Presently the noise opened up again, as though Satan and a regiment of imps were coming forth for battle,’ reads an article in the Des Moines Daily News from Oct. 3, 1903.

The monster appeared together with a smaller version. In a flash of bright light they sailed away, but returned in the morning when the town's men had gathered with weapons ‘to rid the earth of them’.

‘The reception they received would have sunk the Spanish fleet, but aside from unearthly noise and peculiar odor they did not seem to mind it, but slowly descended the shaft of the old mine.’

The creature was never seen again.

This amazing tale has survived and been retold for several generations now and a written version even exists in the town’s centennial book.

The new book is the work of Chad Lewis, who has written over 15 books about the supernatural, plus co-authors Noah Voss and Kevin Lee Nelson and help from local librarian Jolena Walker.

The authors visited the quiet town and spoke to local residents who told them the stories about the creature which passed been down and they visited several historic locations including the mine.

Lewis says he has found no evidence to suggest the monster was a hoax, although be believes the facts of the story may have been embellished over the years.
Lewis told the Des Moines Register that even though he said he’s unsure what happened those fall nights in 1903 in Van Meter, seeking the answer was more important than finding it.

'It was an era when anything was possible. Science was starting to gain momentum. In fact, they had just discovered the mountain gorilla. So the beast in the jungle was real,' he told. 'People were open to the fact that anything could happen.' - Daily Mail

The Van Meter Visitor: A True and Mysterious Encounter with the Unknown

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