Arrowhead Scares: Part 2

Sarah Love, Digital Media & Design Editor

Welcome back! This week, I want to talk about a few cryptids found in North America. Pennsylvania doesn’t have many scary ones, per se. If you want a cryptid found in PA, look up the Squonk and you’ll understand why it would be overwhelmingly boring to dedicate a paragraph to. But you can find some pretty terrifying and cool cryptids across the states. I tried to limit myself to ones at least found within a few states of PA, though I will talk about “popular” creatures. Many people know about things like Mothman but they don’t know the history behind it. Whether it’s real or not, some of these stories are extremely intriguing and thought-provoking. I’m the type of person to believe in this and some of them seem sketchy to me.

Flatwoods Monster

We’re starting in West Virginia for our first cryptid. This aligns more with aliens if you’d like a more specific term. It was first seen in September 1952. Later on, fifty years later, researchers said that the monster was only an owl and the light was a meteor. In September of 1952, three boys saw a strange light crash into a nearby farm. Seven people, including the boys and a national guardsman, went to investigate the scene. They saw a pulsing red light and when they pointed their flashlight at the being, it was a tall, man-like figure with a red, round face shape, that was pointed at the top. One woman described it as having small, claw-like hands; clothing-like folds; and a head shaped like an ace of spades. When the flashlight was shined on it, it hissed and approached the group causing them to all flee. Later on, they said the mist in the area stunk badly. The local police department inspected the area for a crashed aircraft. Some found skid-marks in the area that UFO enthusiasts said were clear signs of a landing. This monster may be a little more farfetched with many reasonable explanations as to what it really was, though it has gained a lot of popularity.

Dover Demon

The Dover Demon was first sighted in Massachusetts in 1977. It has a small, stick-like body with a watermelon-sized head and often travels on all fours, but it can walk like a human could. At most, its 4 feet tall. Some dispute whether its skin is a rosy orange or a gray color. Its eyes are reported as orange or green. If it is an alien, it is not associated with UFOs. The first sighting was by three teenagers in April of 1977. They were driving along a road in Dover when they noticed a creature that they thought was a dog or cat. When the car beams shone on it, there was a small, foreign creature crawling on a wall next to the road. Bartlett, the driver, dropped his friends off after the encounter that only lasted a few seconds. When he returned home, he was visibly upset and recalled the creature to his father and sketched it. Another teen, John Baxter, saw it while heading home from his girlfriend’s. He walked about a mile before seeing a creature that he thought was another human at first. He called out and it didn’t answer, then they slowly approached one another. He asked who it was, only able to see a shadowy form(it was near midnight). It quickly ran away and Baxter followed. He eventually caught up and saw the monster crouching on a rock. He describes it as monkey-like except for the large head and realizes he’d never seen anything like it before. He slowly backs away to the street where a couple picks him up and takes him home in their car. Skeptics claim the Demon was a baby moose, however it was not the season when baby moose would be born. Others claim it was an escaped calf, a monkey, a dog, an alien, or a mutation. Some say it was an illegal pet Gibbon monkey. Something that challenges the skeptics is the fact that Bartlett still stuck by what he said in 1977 when he was interviewed in 2006.

Jersey Devil

The Jersey Devil is often described as a flying bipedal with a goat-like head, leathery wings, hooves, and a forked tail. It moves quickly and gives off a blood curdling, high pitched screech. The legend starts in the 1700s. There was a woman with 12 children, and when she found out she may have a thirteenth she cursed the child and cried. On a stormy night, she gave birth to the Jersey Devil. Some accounts state that the woman had been a witch and the child’s father was the devil himself. Until the twentieth century, it was referred to as the Leeds Devil. This monster terrorized the New Jersey area in the 1700s and the 1800s, with sightings of it being reported over those 200 years and even into the 1900s. In 1937, a creature fitting its description was seen in Pennsylvania by several witnesses. It was seen again in New Jersey in 1957. Once more, it was sighted in the 1960s. Many of those who study cryptids prefer to ignore the Jersey Devil and say it’s just an undiscovered species or a pterodactyl species that lived on.


Everyone knows who Mothman is: A moth-like, well, man that can be found in West Virginia. It’s not usually seen as very moth-like but I digress. It arrived in a sleepy town in 1966 where five men witnessed it for the first time while digging a grave. They said there was no way it was a bird. It was humanoid. It was sighted then across West Virginia but most commonly in the “TNT Area,” or the old West Virginia Ordinance Works. It’s an abandoned military storage that dates back to WWII. The facility made ammo and dynamite with sparse “igloos” that had gunpowder in them in the nearby area. Three days after the men saw the creature for the first time, two couples were driving near the TNT Area around midnight. One of the women saw a creature with glowing red eyes and screamed in fear. The creature was large, humanoid, and had wings folded against its back. It stared at them then chased them down the highway. It was able to keep up despite 100mph speeds. When they returned to town, it was gone. They stopped the car and discussed what they saw then agreed to return to the TNT Area to look for signs so the local people wouldn’t call them crazy. They saw it on the highway, seemingly waiting for them, but it lifted into the trees at a seemingly impossible speed and disappeared again. The four went to the Sheriff then and the police examined the area but found nothing. The story began to be publicized and soon many people came forward with their sightings of it. Not even a week later, one of the women had to be taken to the hospital due to a nervous breakdown caused by seeing the creature. Over the next year, over 100 sightings were reported and witnesses were contacted by the Men in Black who asked that they didn’t report their sightings. In December of 1967, a bridge collapsed killing 46 people. Only nine survived. Some believe that Mothman is a warning to bad events. It was seen in a mine in Germany, where it scared miners away from a collapse in the mine that would have killed them. Another visit was to Chernobyl, the infamous nuclear powerplant that still can barely be approached today. Some people also got pictures of it in New York, before 9/11. Some logical explanations for the creature could be a crane or an owl, but some claim it may be an angel trying to protect people. Some Shawnee legends mention a creature like Mothman or a Chief who was cursed in the nearby lands.


I would like to clear up any misconceptions about the Wendigo and Skinwalkers: They are NOT a cryptid. They never will be a cryptid. They are Native American legends and stories that have inspired many works in pop culture today. Some still say they can see Skinwalkers. I wanted to talk about them while remaining as respectful as possible towards Indigenous people. I want to raise awareness about the misconceptions surrounding them. By the Merriam-Webster definition, they would be cryptids, but I have seen Indigenous people ask that they are not referred to as such.

The cannibal beast lurking in the cold, northern mountains of North America is named “Wendigo.” Algonquian-speaking nations have spread this legend throughout the years as a warning. Some believe that even speaking its name would bring it upon your community. Most legends recall that the Wendigo was once human. Imagine colonial times or even before, especially during the winter. Crops don’t grow, it can reach subzero temperatures, and it may even be impossible to hunt in the dangerous weather. People who are taken over by greed, starvation, or the extreme cold will transform into this cannibalistic beast. Many depictions show the Wendigo as emaciated with some parts of its bone sticking out. They can be extreme heights, like ten feet. Its teeth and nails are sharp and pointy with sunken, sometimes glowing eyes. They have superhuman strength, stamina, hearing, and smell. They can often cross deep snow or water without sinking into it. Many times they have the ability to mimic voices and lure unsuspecting people away. The legend of the Wendigo characterizes the dangers of greed and the necessity of survival. If you’re interested in media with the Wendigo, Stephen King’s Pet Sematary features King’s version of one.

Skinwalkers are quite similar to Wendigoes. Though they live in the Southern states I wanted to talk about them too. Navajo people believe that speaking about one will bring it to your community. A Skinwalker is a human ’ánt’įįhnii, or a person who received supernatural power by breaking a cultural taboo. In other words, an evil witch. These people, often men(yes, men can be witches), are referred to as yee naaldlooshii or “he goes on all fours.” A Skinwalker. The highest rank of evil witchery is clizyati meaning the person has thrown away their humanity entirely and become more beastlike. These creatures can now become any animal. Some even say they can take on the appearance of humans they have seen. If they lock eyes with you or you see them, they feed off of your fear or can take over your soul. Similarly to vampires, they cannot go into a home without an invitation so they use mimicry to lure victims out of their homes. As animals, they move strangely and their eyes may glow in both forms. Hunting one is hard too. They will just lead you back to your own home or a relative’s home as a warning. However, they keep injuries from their animal form even as a human. If you know its human name and say it, three days later that human will get sick or die. Bullets with white ash in or on them can kill one in its animal form. There are a lot of sightings even today but the most famous is Skinwalker Ranch if you want to look into it. I could go on forever.