Today we’re going to cover a very strange cryptid that comes to us from Van Meter, Iowa. It was only sighted in October 1903, and has never been seen again. This cryptid goes far beyond other cryptids covered before in many ways – it was seen by several people for extended periods of time, and the sightings ceased as abruptly as they began. Buckle in, everyone, this is a weird one (and fairly low stakes, so we can take some time to be silly). Let’s explore.
Before we get into the bulk of the story, I would like to describe the creature to you. It was said to be about nine feet tall when standing on its hind legs, but apparently was also prone to walking crouched over. It had large bag-like wings. Some descriptions show it having claw-like hands attached to the wings, others show no hands or claws. Its head resembled a beaked skill, similar in shape to a vulture skull or a sort of pterosaur skull, though it doesn’t exactly match up with any known fossils that I could find. It also had a small horn on its head that glowed. It apparently was able to shoot beams of light from this horn. Now, onto why we have this description in the first place.
The encounters took place across the town over three days in October of 1903. It was spotted on top of buildings and in the streets. Each time the creature was spotted, the townspeople shot at it. Allegedly, a few of the shots landed and left the creature unaffected. Some apparently reported seeing a beam of light shooting from its forehead. The townspeople quickly grew tired of the creature’s shenanigans and chased it out of town, towards a disused coal mine. When they reached the entrance to the mind, however, a second creature emerged from the tunnels, joining the first. The townspeople surrounding the entrance to the mine then shot at both creatures, though both slipped into the mine apparently unharmed. Neither creature has even been seen again.
There isn’t actually a lot of internet speculation when it comes to this cryptid, as it doesn’t seem to be especially well known. So, I’m putting my tinfoil hat on here and doing the speculation myself. The first theory seems the most likely to me – the Van Meter Visitor was a man in a suit or some other sort of hoax. However, this has been thoroughly dismissed by both contemporary witnesses and those that examine the story today. This is because the Visitor was supposedly far taller than any man, and was repeatedly shot at to no avail. I don’t think these things really dismiss the idea of it being a hoax – if the Visitor was manufactured, it could be any size and of course would not bleed. Also, who’s to say any of the shots that the panicked townspeople fired even landed? Just my two cents.
The second theory I could see being possibly put forth is that the Visitor is a dinosaur that somehow survived underground in Iowa. I have to say that I know this is incredibly unlikely, but I think it could also explain a lot. If the creatures were living underground for millions of years, it would have needed to adapt to that environment – hence the light is emitted from its horn. That detail is what I keep getting hung up on – the light, and what purpose it would serve. Maybe the mining in the area disturbed its natural habitat, and it slowly worked its way through the mine shafts and out to the surface. This theory still stands apart from dinosaurs, of course, with the idea that the Visitor is an unknown species. I mention dinosaurs specifically because it resembles and sort of Pterosaur.
The third theory is that the Visitor is not of this world. This could be in one of two ways – either it was an alien, or it was an extra-dimensional being. If you’re unaware of the difference, the tl;dr is that aliens come from our world, but other places in space; extra-dimensional beings come from separate dimensions that we cannot perceive or experience. This theory comes up a lot with Mothman, but I think it could apply here, especially considering how quickly the creatures appeared and how they vanished so thoroughly.
After doing all the research, I think one of two things happened. Either it was a prank or hoax that got too big for whoever was perpetrating it, and the story snowballed out of control; or it was some sort of animal they were not used to seeing in Iowa and the story grew more embellished as it was told over and over again. Though I will say that I would absolutely love for the weirdly evolved dinosaur to be true, because it totally does make sense.
2 thoughts on “Creepy Cryptids: The Van Meter Visitor”
Does anyone have the original article from the Des Moines Register 1903
The Des Moines Register has some scans that the Des Moines Public Library has preserved in this article: https://www.desmoinesregister.com/picture-gallery/news/2015/07/01/6-photos-van-meters-winged-creature-reportedly-seen-in-1903/29582693/ but that was as close as I was able to find.