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The Mysterious White Things of West Virginia
There are a lot of mysterious phenomena in this weird world of ours, and they always flitter about on the periphery of our understanding and ability to adequately classify them. One type of phenomena that has grown to encompass so many disparate mysteries that it has almost come to be its own category of the unexplained involves a menagerie of strange beasts and entities that are pure white and almost always malevolent, which roam the wilderness of the U.S. state of West Virginia. They come in many shapes, take on many countenances and behaviors, but they are always fierce, strange beasts, that have come to be known as simply the White Things.
The creatures that have come to be known as “The White Things” or sometimes “The White Dogs” or “White Devils,” can perhaps be traced back to Native Cherokee lore since time unremembered, with the legend of the white wolf. These mysterious wolves were said to be stark white in color, and much larger, more powerful, and more ferocious than a typical wolf. To see these ghostly pale wolves lurking through the trees was said to be an ominous portent, as they were seen as heralds of death, and according to the lore they are only visible to those for whom death is coming, to see one a sure sign that the end was inexorably drawing closer. This might sound like pure legend and folklore, but in Appalachian regions there would be sightings by settlers of extremely large white wolves or dogs loping about, and this would gradually extend to other myriad physical forms, including white bears, badgers, lions, and even cows.
The more dog-like ones stemming from Cherokee lore alone are said to take on a myriad of descriptions, from wolves, to dogs, to even more feline forms like mountain lions, the commonality being that they are always stark, snow white. Sometimes they are describes as having glowing red eyes, and they are variously reported as bipedal or moving on all fours, sometimes a mixture of both. They are almost always vicious, devious monsters, attacking with little provocation, but oddly often not leaving behind any injury other than whatever mental scars the fear of the encounter might leave. In her book Monsters of West Virginia, Rosemary Ellen Guiley describes them aptly:
They are covered with long, shaggy, snow-white or dirty white hair, and they often have immense jaws and fangs. They move at lightning speed, sometimes on two legs rather than four. Sometimes they seem to have ‘too many legs.’ Their chilling screams sound like a woman being raped or murdered. Whatever they are, they are bloodthirsty and attack without provocation. The attacks are so real that people actually ‘feel’ the beast’s fangs tearing into their flesh. But when the attack is over they are shocked to find not a mark on their body. However, the beasts rip up animals in the fashion of a werewolf, tearing out their throats and mutilating their bodies-and leave the corpses bloodless and without a trace of blood around…Like all mysterious creatures, there are variations in descriptions of White Things and even labels. Some of the white mystery beings are called ‘White Devils,’ for they have red eyes and long, sharp claws, and are able to walk and run upright. Some of these beasts have a connection to cemeteries, not an aversion, and thus are death-omen creatures.
These monstrous creatures are indeed often described as being incredibly fast, at time even seeming to teleport from place to place, adding to their general ghostly, otherworldly nature, and they are said to have an incredible leaping prowess. One report given on the site Cryptoville says of them:
For a very long time people have told me about the “White Thing” of Ragland, WV, a small community outside of Delbarton, WV in Mingo county. Several trusted friends of mine have told of their encounters with the thing. One friend said it could run faster than anything he’d ever seen in his life and that it stood up on two legs like a man and was tall. The other two friends were on an atv beside the railroad tracks at the edge of dark and seen a thing run across their path on four legs like a dog, then jump on a stack of railroad ties that are 4 & 1/2 feet tall on two legs before leaping an excess of 10 feet to the hillside.
These boys (15 or 16 at the time) were very shaken up and crying when they returned home. I don’t know anything else about the things in Ragland other than that I trust and believe my friends 100%. They aren’t the only ones who have had these experiences. All I could link them possibly to is the reported satanic worship that was said to have taken place in the bottom, up the road from 24 hollow, which is right beside PEC a battery shop in Ragland.
Indeed, they are not the only ones to have these experiences, and sightings and frightening encounters with these White Things have been reported all over the state. One rich trove of accounts pertaining to these mystery creatures is a book called White Things – West Virginia’s Weird White Monsters, by Kurt McCoy, and some of these reports are even weirder. Take the account of an unidentified hunter who was out in the West Virginia wilderness with some companions. They were making their way along a remote trail when they say a hairy white animal like a large, white dog with a bushy tail pounced upon them out of nowhere while issuing a bloodcurdling scream that echoed about them and incited great fear. Whatever this thing was knocked the hunter down the hill they were on, after which he began to wail with a mixture of fear, panic, and pain. When the others caught up to him he was inconsolable, screaming desperately that the creature had badly mauled him and “ripped out his guts,” but in reality a quick inspection showed that he didn’t have a scratch on him. It was obvious that he was not hallucinating because the people with him had seen the creature too, so what is going on here? How could something appear to these people, attack, and then leave no injury behind?
A similarly bizarre experience was reported in 1929 by a coal miner named Frank Kozul, who on this evening was walking home through a wooded area near Morgan’s Ridge, in Fairmount, West Virginia. As he made his way through the dense brush, his thoughts were interrupted by the sight of a very strange creature standing not far ahead, which he described as being the size of a large dog, with “an extremely large, powerfully jawed head,” a bushy tail, and covered with pure white fur. Almost as soon as Kozul saw it the thing pounced on him, biting and clawing at him ravenously, but seeming to inflict no real damage. Similarly, Kozul’s efforts to punch and kick at it not only did not hurt it, but did not seem to hit anything at all, as if he were trying to fight a ghost, his strikes passing through thin air. Although it didn’t seem to be able to hurt him, he certainly knew it was solid to some extent, as its weight managed to push him over and cause hims to stumble several times as he retreated through the trees. Throughout this whole terrifying ordeal, the creature made no sound, completely silent, creating a surreal scene where this man was being savagely attacked by this spectral beast to the jarring symphony of birdsong and other peaceful sounds of an otherwise calm forest. This report seems remarkably similar to the previous one, with a vicious attack leaving no physical wounds, so could it be the same thing, and if so what was it?
Another odd report is that of a witness who saw a large, brownish-white, horned creature crawl from the underbrush while out hiking on a remote trail. Its coat was apparently shaggy and matted to the point where the witness could not tell whether the creature was a mixture of brown and white, or if had a white coat that was just so filthy that it had a brownish hue. Whatever it was reportedly was surrounded by a gag-inducing, potent smell of Sulphur. The witness says of the bizarre creature:
The creature moved on all fours as it breached the brush line and knelt to drink from the creek. Its front limbs, the only limbs I saw clearly, ended in what were markedly paw-like “hands”. Its head was long and pointed, like a canine’s, and it had largish horns, not antlers but single point horns. It drank for a few minutes, then crossed the creek and continued on across toward Sandhill Road. When I was sure it was gone, I turned and ran as fast as I could back toward the pond where I’d parked.
Yet another account was given by a woman known as “Melissa,” who says at the time she had been driving down an isolated country road with her husband one evening. The night was dark and quiet, just the shadows of trees and flickering lanes lines floating past outside, but then out of the night ahead there bloomed the form of something crouching on the road, brought out of the dark by the approaching headlights. She says of her encounter:
About 50 yards ahead of us was something in the road. It was on all fours and was snow white. It was bigger than a dog, way bigger. As we got closer it turned and looked our way. Its mouth opened and it stood up on two legs and began running across the road and up through the woods. I never said a thing. All I could do was sit there, stunned. A few minutes later Joe asked if I had seen what he had seen. Unable to answer him, I began to cry.
The creature in this particular case seems almost like something more like a Bigfoot, and indeed many of the White Thing reports give this impression. The diversity of appearances suggests almost something of a shapeshifting variety, although what that could be is anyone’s guess. The accounts of these fierce white beasts are so erratic that he terminology of the mysterious “White Things” has grown to become almost an umbrella term that includes a menagerie of pale beasts that encompass even hairy hominid creatures like Bigfoot. Indeed, the creatures collectively known as the White Things come in a wide variety of types, to the point where they don’t really seem like they could all be of the same origin.
Some reports seem to indicate something that could almost be a Bigfoot, but somewhat “off.” One report from an area called Baker’s Ridge involves a college student who was watching a house for a family out on vacation. The atmosphere would have been quite spooky already, as the house was situated in the middle of nowhere in the woods, surrounded by trees in the day, an impenetrable blackness at night, and a sense of foreboding at all hours, but it would get even scarier still. One evening amongst the cacophony of the forest night outside she heard some loud banging sounds, which sounded like someone or something rummaging around on the back porch.
Thinking it was some animal like a raccoon she went to shoo it off, but peering through the window revealed two glowing red eyes peering right back, framed within a dark shape around 5 feet in height. The mystery animal then ran at the house on two legs and began banging on the windows and walls as it let forth a furious howl. As it loomed past the thin pane of glass separating them, the witness could see that it was covered in long, scraggly white hair and had remarkably human-like hands. After some time of lurking right outside the window the thing slinked off into the night and shortly after she could hear it enthusiastically ransacking the garbage pails a bit further from the house, before disappearing. When she inspected the area under the perceived safety of daylight, she discovered that whatever it was had left behind footprints, muddy, human-like handprints streaked all over the windows, and garbage and other miscellaneous objects strewn about all over the place, with the garbage cans themselves crushed and twisted with great force. Was this some sort of Bigfoot type animal or something else?
Also somewhat like a bigfoot but even more bizarre and otherworldly is what has come to be called the “Sheepsquatch.” Across a large swath of West Virginia including Boone, Kanawha, Putnam and Mason counties there is said to be lurking a hulking creature which is really hard to quite classify. Starting from around the mid-1990s there began a string of sightings of what was described as a pure white, woolly bear-sized beast with a pointed head topped by goat-like horns, a snouted face with long, sharp teeth, and a long hairless tail said to be reminiscent of that of an opossum. Often reported as accompanied by a pungent, sulfurous stench, the creature was at first called simply the “White Thing,” and would later garner the name “Sheepsquatch,” although it bears very little physical resemblance at all to its more famous Sasquatch cryptid cousin other than perhaps its size and hairiness.
The first sightings of this bizarre creature started coming in in 1994. In perhaps the earliest report, a group of women claimed that they had been driving along a treacherous icy road in a location in West Virginia known as the TNT area, which they were cautiously inching along in order not to get into an accident. According to the witnesses, they were then surprised by a large creature which lumbered out of the woods in front of them, described as being around 7 or 8 feet tall, covered with shaggy white hair, and with a pointed snout, ram-like horns, and human-looking legs. The mysterious creature allegedly froze for a moment when the headlights hit it before running off into the dark forest.
Soon after this report others came pouring in, and there were numerous sightings made in 1994. In one account, a former Navy seaman out hunting observed the same creature emerge from the forest to crouch at a creek to drink before continuing on its way. The witness claimed to have watched it for several minutes, and said that it had human-like hands. In another account, a motorist spotted a tall, robust creature on a hillside, that was covered in white fur that appeared to be like rags hanging off of its body. In that very same year there was another rather high profile sighting made in Boone County by two children playing in their yard. The children reported that a beast that looked like a white bear walking on its hind legs was making its way through the underbrush on the periphery of their property when their startled screams had sent it in a mad bolt through the forest, leaving snapped saplings and tree branches in its wake.
Later reports of the Sheepsquatch would take on a more threatening tone. In 1995, a couple was driving along when they spotted a white, bear-like creature hunched over in a roadside ditch. When the couple slowed down to see what it was, the creature had then stood up on its hind legs to reveal that it was no bear, but rather a massive beast with a horned head and, oddly, four eyes. The thing then allegedly dashed at their car in a fury, slashing and banging the side of the vehicle with great force before the terrified couple sped away. They claimed that when they reached their home they discovered that the side of their car displayed wicked scratches that looked like they had been made by claws.
In 1999 there was another such frightening encounter, when some campers heard what they at first took to be the sounds of bear grunting, huffing and moving about out in the darkness beyond their camp. Already a little spooked that a bear was in such close proximity and not sounding to be in the best of moods, the campers were truly in for a shock when out of the brush came crashing a hulking white blur which let out a bloodcurdling, unearthly scream. Fleeing for their lives, the campers briefly looked back to see the Sheepsquatch standing at their camp glaring at them. Allegedly, when the campers returned the following day their campsite seemed to have been totally ransacked by a large animal of some kind. In yet another apparent attack by a Sheepsquatch, an account outlined on a 2013 episode of the TV show Monsters and Mysteries in America, two hunters claimed that a giant, furry white beast over 9 feet tall had let out a “ungodly, gut-curling growl” before running towards them in an aggressive manner.
The most recent report of the Sheepsquatch occurred in 2015, when a group of six unnamed campers saw it while camping out in a place called Fulks Run. One of the campers reportedly first saw the creature crouching menacingly atop a hill at around midnight, after which he went to warn the others. It was then that whatever it was stood to its full height of 8 or 9 feet and started running down the hill towards their camp. Apparently a river stood between the campers and the creature, but after trying in vain to find a way around it simply waded right into the rushing water to slosh towards them. By this time, all of the campers had gathered to watch the strange monster coming inexorably through the river towards them, and when it emerged they could see that it looked like a huge, white bipedal dog, dripping water from its soaked fur. The campers reported that there had then been a shriek from out in the forest from something else, and this had apparently frightened the creature, which whimpered and slunk off back into the woods in apparent fear or passiveness. One wonders what could have provoked such a response.
What are we to make of this totally otherwordly creature, and is it some sort of a hairy biped like Bigfoot or what? Other cases are a little harder to really classify, but seem to somewhat fit into the whole, surreal White Things phenomenon. Interestingly, at the site of the famous Mothman sightings or 1966 and 67, in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, was a report of an odd entity in 1973. The sighting took place at the notorious TNT area, from where the Mothman phenomenon spawned, and the witness says that as he was driving through the area with his family they saw a figure described as “mostly white, no wings, with real thick, shaggy hair,” and with a head “3 feet wide.” Although it did not have wings, it nevertheless hovered in the air and floated alongside the vehicle as they tried to tear out of there, reaching a speed of 65 miles an hour before it apparently either gave up or got bored and flew off into the night. What was this thing and what significance did it have, if any, to the events that had taken place years before? We may never know.
In the end we have an array of mind-boggling accounts here that seem to defy all attempts to classify or categorize them. Indeed, with the wide range of physical descriptions and abilities it is hard to even discern if they are related in any way or not, and “White Things” seems to have become merely the go-to term for any of the many stark white mysterious entities apparently haunting the woods of West Virginia. It seems that these creatures, entities, spirits, whatever they are come in various flavors, and there is perhaps not one explanation that can fully color in the lines. Aliens? Ghosts? Spirits? Demons? Interdimensional beings? Whatever the many causes for the White Things of West Virginia might be, they have come to be almost their own little corner of the paranormal world, and will likely perplex and tease us into the future.