Several strange creatures have said to have been sighted in West Virginia. The Flatwoods Monster hit the scene in 1952 and eventually was followed by Indrid Cold and the Mothman in 1966 but there were more reports of weird entities that bridged the gap between the 50's and late 60's, hairy humanoid creatures known as The Apple Devils and a creature with pale seal-like skin known as The Grafton Monster.
Apple Devils - 1960
In 1960 there were reports of hairy human-like beings that would take bites out of apples in the orchards around the town of Marlington, West Virginia. The creatures became known as "Apple Devils" or "Apple Pickers".
Local farmers complained about torn down fences, broken branches and the apple trees being stripped of their fruit. People claimed to be seeing a dark, hairy creature, walking upright like a person at the scenes. They were said to run extremely fast and have a foul odor.
According to Fortean researcher John Lutz, when he was working at WFBR Radio in 1960, he and his boss, Lou Corbin, went to investigate the creatures in the Pocahontas County, WV. The state of West Virginia, in general, seemed to be in the middle of a wave of strange hairy monsters sightings at that time.
Several significant Monongaheia Forest encounters happened in the summer of 1960. In one extraordinary incident, W. C "Doc" Priestly was driving near Marlington, about 55 miles southeast of Flatwoods, When his car malfunctioned and stalled. All of a sudden, next to the road, Priestly saw a giant humanoid creature with all of its long hair standing on end. His companion, ahead of him, became worried and backed up their bus. When this happened, the beast's hair dropped down and it disappeared into the forest. Priestly's car started up again, and he drove along. The thing then appeared again at the side of the road. And again, his friends came to find Priestly, and the creature vanished for the last time into the trees.
In another summer of 1960 incident, at the extreme northern end of the Monongahela Forest, near Davis, a group of campers saw a "horrible monster." The witnesses said it "had two huge eyes that shone like big balls of fire" and that "It stood every bit of eight feet tall and had shaggy long hair all over the body." The creature shuffled off into the night, and the campers packed up the next morning as quickly as they could.
Meanwhile, an eight-foot-tall Bigfoot-type creature with "balls-of-fire" eyes was seen by many people, around Parsons, also in the northern part of the Monongahela Forest during that weird summer of 1960 in West Virginia.
December 30th 1960:
Braxton county was involved in what John Keel called a "Classic" monster case. It began around 11:00 Pm on Friday, December 30th 1960. Charles Stover was driving a bakery truck around a curve on a deserted backwoods road near Hickory Flats, West Virginia between Braxton and Webster Counties when he almost hit a monster, which stood upright, hair all over its body.
Pulling his truck to a sharp step, Stover looked back to see a six foot tall, human-shaped hairy figure right next to the road staring at him. Being a little scared, he stepped on the gas and raced along until he reached a truck stop where he related his story to a group of men. They immediately armed themselves and went to the spot where they found strange marks on the ground. They also noticed that large rocks had been overturned by something but they couldn't find any trace of the monster.
Sources: Mothman and other curious encounters by Loren Coleman (Page 21 - Chapter 1) (Apple Devil) Monsters & Ghosts of West Virginia by Eric Turner and Isaac McKinnon (Page 11-Apple Pickers)
The Grafton Monster - 1965Formerly a railroad boomtown, Grafton, West Virginia, today seems somewhat an anomaly — a village of big-city architecture locked in a territory of small farms and dense woodlands. In its heyday Grafton was a wealthy mining center, and one of it's biggest claims to fame is the founding of Mother's Day there in 1908. Through these woodlands prowls a monster, some say. A monster with seal-like skin was reported there in 1965 and it was called locally the "Grafton Monster".
June 16th 1965:
At 11pm on June 16th 1965, a young reporter in his mid twenties by the name of Robert Cockrell was heading home from his evening shift at the Grafton Sentinel newspaper. He was driving along Riverside Drive, which follows the Tygart River. Cockrell knew the road well and zipped along at about 50 miles an hour.
As he rounded a wide curve and entered a straight section of road about a mile long, his headlights caught something that he knew immediately was out of place. It appeared to be a "huge white obstruction on the right side of the road standing between the road and the riverbank on a cleared-off section of grass," as he revealed later.
Almost as soon as he saw it, he concluded that it was not an object but a living beast the likes of which he had never before seen. It stood seven to nine feet tall and was about four feet wide. It was stark white, with slick, seal-like skin, or a covering that resembled sealskin and It had no head.
After he got home and calmed down, he decided to return to the scene to investigate. He recruited two friends to accompany him, but when they arrived at the spot, the thing was gone. They searched up and down the riverbank for more than hour but found nothing. There was no tracks, although the grass where Cockrell had had seen the creature had been mashed down by something heavy. While they searched, they heard an odd, low whistling sound coming from the direction of the river. The whistling seemed seemed to follow them, but they could not see whatever was making the noise.
When Cockrell went to work the next day, he was reluctant to mention the sighting. His sense of duty as a journalist prevailed, and he informed his editor. A small story was published on June 18th. Word of the sighting raced through Grafton and soon created a monster-hunting sensation. More than one hundred teens and adults, armed with flashlights, mallets, crowbars, bats and other crude weapons, thronged to the river at night in hopes of tangling with the "Headless Horror".
More than twenty searchers said they saw it, including at the nearby stone quarry. They were questioned individually by Cockrell, their accounts were tallied "to the finest detail," he said. One youth oddly opined that the creature must be an "escaped polar bear," though he offered no explanation as to how a polar bear might arrive in Grafton on its own.
State, county, and local police officers made a search of the area and found nothing. Though the newspaper played the incident down, gossip played it up, and the following night even more people turned out to monster hunt, clogging Riverdale Drive with bumper-to-bumper traffic and scores of vehicles pulled off to the side. No one reported a sighting as dramatic as the one had by Cockrell, however. In a second article published on June 19th, the Grafton Sentinel dismissed the creature as "wildly imaginative story" inspired by "spring fever" and "a lack of recreational facilities".
The monster hunting eventually died down, but Cockrell quietly pursed his own investigation. He found reports of the creature matching his description up and down the Tygart River, and as far north as Morgontown in advance of his sighting. He never published his findings.
He contacted Gray Barker and exchanged correspondence with him about the case, firmly stating that the sighting was not a figment of his imagination or a practical joke. Barker drove to Grafton to interview Cockrell and intended to write the case up for a UFO magazine. Thought he wrote a draft of an article, he never published it. He saved the letters, notes and newspaper clippings, which were put on file in the Gray Barker Collection in West Virginia. In 1995, while digging into the Gray Barker Collection, researcher Mark A. Hall discovered the unpublished details.
Cockrell told interviewer Gray Barker: "I know the road well, the night was clear ... As I glanced up, my high beams picked up a huge white obstruction on the right side of the road standing between the road and the river bank on a cleared off section of grass. After glimpsing the Thing, I speeded up to get off that road as soon as possible. My impressions of the beast were: It was between seven and nine feet tall, it was approximately four feet wide, and has a seal like skin or covering which had a sheen to it. It had no discernible head and did not move as I passed by."
Some say that The Grafton Monster is headless, others think it might've been mistaken for headless with its appearance being more like a skulking monster, its head tucked close to its chest.
When the creature was featured on the Television show "Mountain Monsters" in 2014, they showed very hazy images captured during an instance of spooked cattle that seemingly depicted a very tall creature moving quickly through the treeline.
Despite the two short 1965 newspaper articles on the subject being highly censored by the paper's editor and the rest going unpublished for decades, the legend of the Grafton Monster has somewhat endured as a part of the monster lore of West Virginia.
Sources: Mothman and other curious encounters by Loren Coleman (2002) (Page 22 - Chapter 1) Monsters of West Virginia by Rosemary Ellen Guiley (2012) (Page 11 - Chapter 1)