5 mythical mountain monsters: Mothman, mummies & other creepy creatures in WV

Folklore is very alive in the hills of West Virginia, where stories are often passed down through tight-knit generations.

Appalachia seems to provide the perfect environment for mysterious creatures, as numerous areas boast tales of eerie spirits and beings that call these hills home.  

Check out these 5 spooky legends that mountaineers have kept alive for decades:

1. Winged man leaves long legacy in Point Pleasant

Couples See Man-Sized Bird… Creature… Something!” read the front page of the Point Pleasant Register on Nov. 16, 1966.

More than 100 claims were recorded that year, all citing a man with wide wings and red, glowing eyes stomping and flying through the Point Pleasant area. Sightings ceased following the collapse of the city’s Silver Bridge in December 1967, leading many to believe the Mothman was trying to warn people of the disaster. The giant man/bird hybrid was sensationalized in the book “The Mothman Prophecies,” and later in a movie by the same name.

The 3rd weekend every September, Point Pleasant celebrates its most legendary resident at his very own event— The Mothman Festival. Experts take visitors to the TNT Area (a WWII-era ammunition manufacturing facility) locals believe was his home. Festival-goers can also visit the official Mothman Museum and Research Center for tours and presentations by Mothman eyewitnesses, authors and paranormal investigators.

2. Braxton County embraces mysterious alien-like visitor

On a September evening in 1952, young boys passing football saw something fall out of the sky onto a nearby hillside. Their curiosity led them to hunt down a mysterious UFO. As they crested the hill, a strong hint of metallic scent wafted through the misty air, shrouding a mysterious alien-like creature. This creature had a pointed, hood-shaped head, beaming eyes and red skin cloaked in loosely fitted green fabric.

A reporter for the Braxton Democrat raced to the scene, but only remnants remained: skid marks and a mysterious gooey substance. The monster, which would be come to known as the Braxton County Monster or the Phantom of Flatwoods, was never seen again, though some continued to report bright objects hovering in the skies above Flatwoods.

The Braxton County Convention and Visitors Bureau holds tight to this folklore. Since 1973, they have sold ceramic Braxton County Monster lanterns. Recently, they’ve started The Braxton County Monster Chairs project, placing 10-foot-tall wooden, uniquely painted replicas of the monster around the county.

3. Woman’s spirit haunts Logan area in search of justice

Many Logan residents believe that if you put your car in neutral on Holden’s 22 Mine Road, near the spot where Mamie Thurman’s body was found, her ghost will pull you up the hill. Motorists passing this road over the years have also reported seeing a woman standing on the side of the road wearing outdated clothing.

Who is she and why does she hold on so tightly to Logan and its people? Mamie was a beautiful socialite in the 20s— a woman who had relocated with her husband to the West Virginia mines from Kentucky. Her husband was a deputy, and it is said she spent a lot of time in speakeasies in the company of the town’s most prominent married men.

She was found murdered in a blackberry patch. A handyman, who worked for Mamie’s landlord (who many think she was having an affair with), was charged with murder, though Logan residents were skeptical that the soft-spoken man was capable of such a heinous crime.

The location of Mamie’s body is a mystery to this day. Her death certificate lists Logan Memorial Park, but her body is not there. It is said here is record that a prominent businessman paid $1,000 to have her body moved to a cemetery in Chauncey. Mamie’s unsettled soul continues to haunt the hills and hollows looking for justice and a final place of rest.

4. Weeping Statue in Parkersburg an unusual memorial

The Weeping Woman statue in Parkersburg is, well… not as still as a statue. She lives in Riverview Cemetery, where her primary role is to watch over the Jacksons, a prominent family in the area who were cousins to the famed Civil War general, Stonewall Jackson.

Many say they see the gloomy woman come to life on nights when a full moon bathes the historic cemetery in light. She’s also said to be a great judge of character, ripping the shirts or pulling on the hair of those she finds to be up to no good. But some women believe the weeping lady awards wishes, claiming that the statue holds the power to grant them pregnancy.

If you’re ever near Parkersburg, definitely pay the Weeping Woman a visit. If nothing else, she’s a beautiful piece of artwork and quite an eerie and unusual sight.

5. Mummies of Philippi

In 1888, amateur scientist and mummy-fixated Graham Hamrick wanted to try out his very own embalming potion, so he purchased a couple cadavers from the lunatic hospital down the road (then the West Virginia Hospital for the Insane, but now known as the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum).

His embalming potion had worked perfectly on fruits and vegetables, but would it have the same effect on the pair of cadavers? It most certainly did. His little experiment was successful, and they continued to “live” long after his own death.

The pair toured with P.T. Barnum and his circus before being shipped back to Philippi and forgotten in a barn for many years. A vengeful flood washed over the small town several years later, and as legend has it, they were placed on the Post Office lawn to dry out (because why not?)

Today, the “Hamrick Mummies” are in the care of the  Barbour County Historical Society Museum, which has restored them. The pair is on display in the bathroom of the Barbour County Historical Museum, kept in coffins with glass lids. Rumor has it that just like in the pair’s circus days, you can get a peek for only $1!

Have you ever seen these creepy mountain-dwelling monsters? (Would you want to?!)

Explore more spooky WV folklore >

This post was last updated on July 21, 2020