Monster Hunting in Ohio
A Vampire is generally described as being exceedingly gaunt and lean with a hideous countenance and eyes wherein are glinting the red fire of perdition…. the mouth curls back in a vulpine snarl which bares these fangs…. and in certain districts of Poland he is supposed to have a sharp point at the end of his tongue, like the sting of a bee….
Montague Summers, The Vampire: His Kith and Kin
I had some field work to attend to down along the Tug Fork River of West Virginia. That’s a 500 mile drive from Western Michigan, passing through much of central Ohio, before crossing the Ohio River along I-35 at Point Pleasant, West Virginia. Along the way I broke up the drive and had a few road stops, which is to say I was either buying antiques, vinyl records, cameras or rooting up stories about urban folklore. Near Findlay, Ohio I scored a copy of Montague Summers The Werewolf (1933, re-issued by University Books – 1966), and deciding that that was not enough, also picked up The Vampire: His Kith and Kin (1928, University Books – 1960).
Summer’s description of the lancet-tongued Polish vampire or Wjesci (a term he did not use) seems to have been adapted by Guillermo del Toro in both Blade II and the Strigoi in The Strain. Both books are meticulously researched by Summers, who was a Clifton College and Trinity College – Oxford educated Jesuit Priest, probably best know for his treatise on witchcraft, The History of Witchcraft and Demonology (1926), which if I am not mistaken, is the reference volume that Karswell (Niall McGinnis) steals from the London Library at Saint James Square in Night of the Demon (1957).
While crossing over the Ohio River at Point Pleasant I got a weird vibe like something seemed familiar and it dawned on me that I was entering the realm of Mothman. I pulled over and headed downtown. A quick glance on-line at Roadside America put me face to face with a magnificent metallic effigy of the beast, sculpted by local artist Bob Roach.
The museum, owned and managed by Jeff Wamsley, is an absolute hoot and a must for cryptozoologists, Fortean enthusiasts, believers, adventurers and the young at heart. Who could not pass up a museum dedicated to the crypto-daddy of all Ohio Valley monsters (due respect to the Loveland Frogmen and the Hopkinsville Goblins)?
Inside you’ll find a way cool gift store, with books, shirts and other curiosities, and within the museum ($3!) props from Mark Pellington’s film The Mothman Prophecies (2002), a neat timeline, several original news clippings, book and article tie-ins, a small (and creepy) film room (showing a documentary), and a few surprises…. Watch out for the Men in Black!
A selection of Fortean author John Keel’s paperbacks.
What are the Derenberger Tapes?
Classic rendering of the now famous Mothman silhouette.
Bravo! Well done. Next stop…. Bigfoot in Ohio?