; Phantoms and Monsters: Pulse of the Paranormal

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Vintage Pennsylvania 'Thunderbird' Sightings

My friend and colleague Butch Witkowski provided the following vintage Pennsylvania 'thunderbird' sightings by non-native witnesses. These reports were forwarded to the UFO Research Center of Pennsylvania:

Once known as the Forbidden Land, the Pennsylvania Black Forest region encompasses Clinton, Potter, Lycoming, Tioga, Cameron, and McKean counties. Predominantly sparsely populated state forest and game lands, it has been haunted for centuries by giant birds known as "thunderbirds." The earliest known account is that of Mrs. Elvira Ellis Coats, who claimed to have seen Thunderbirds in the 1840's McKean County.

In 1892, a farmer in Centerville caught a bird eating a dead cow at the edge of his field. Former Potter County school superintendent, A. P. Akeley, saw the bird and said "its color was grey. It stood upright. He is not sure how tall it was, but certainly over 6 feet and perhaps as much as 8 feet"

Near Coudersport in 1940, a huge bird spotted "between 6 and 8 feet tall... like a very large vulture.... its wing spread was equal to the width of the road..."

In August, 1945, the school bus left Helen Erway off by Ole Bull 2 miles from home because the dirt road had been oiled. After walking near a stretch of pines along the road she saw a large shadow on the ground. Overhead was a very large bird. She feared being carried off, so she ran until a neighbor stopped and drove her home. "It was not an eagle. The wings were straight out. It made a high pitch noise. The shadow on the road was about 30 feet," she said recalling the incident.

Erway suffered severe nightmares and could not sleep or eat. Finally her parents took her to her grandmother, Marion Erway, an Indian "medicine woman", who told her she saw a Thunder Bird. That it was there to protect her because she was part Indian. Her grandmother said it was a magic moment and that Helen shouldn't be frightened. Helen Erway also told of a "thunderbird" hovering over Delbert Schoonover, when he was bitten by a rattlesnake by the dam, until help arrived. Other loggers who came to assist him also saw the bird.

Late one afternoon, Charlie Passell and others sighted a "thunderbird" west of Renovo in late May, 1964. The bird was spotted perched in a dead Hemlock tree at a strip mine near Bush dam. "Where the wing meets the body was thick, longer neck than a hawk's but not as long as a stork or crane, bigger beak than an eagle," he said. Passell heard of "thunderbirds" and figured "that's what we must've seen because it wasn't like any bird we were familiar with. Definitely no eagle. “Larger than a buzzard, real large."

Pennsylvania has been a traditional hotspot for flying cryptids & humanoids...be it large birds, batsquatch, gargoyles, mothman-like beings, etc. I'd be very interested in reading your personal encounters with these or other cryptids. Lon

Live Pterosaurs in America: Not extinct, flying creatures of cryptozoology that some call pterodactyls or flying dinosaurs or prehistoric birds

Destination Truth: Memoirs of a Monster Hunter

Encounters with Flying Humanoids: Mothman, Manbirds, Gargoyles & Other Winged Beasts

American Monsters: A History of Monster Lore, Legends, and Sightings in America