Van Meter Visitor

From Kook Science

"MONSTER OF AWFUL FORM." (Eau Claire Weekly Telegram, 27 Nov. 1903, p. 2)

Van Meter Visitor is a recent appellation for a nocturnal "winged monster" that was reported to have been sighted by multiple persons in and around the town of Van Meter in Dallas County, Iowa during the autumn of 1903. Press reports at the time described the entity as having "great bat-like wings" and a "blunt, horn-like protuberance" that radiated a "dazzling light" in addition to possessing a "stupefying odor" of marked unpleasantness. The entity, accompanied by a smaller mate or offspring, was claimed to have been witnessed exiting and entering an abandoned coal mine by a number of the town's residents, who had, it was reported, set up an overnight vigil at some point in early October 1903.

St. Paul Globe (St. Paul, MN): 1, 4, 11 Oct. 1903

Press Coverage

  • "A WINGED MONSTER. Creature Emitting a Dazzling Light Terrifies Hawkeyes.", St. Paul Globe (St. Paul, MN): 1, 4, 11 Oct. 1903, 

    DES MOINES, Iowa, Oct. 10. — The town of Van Meter, containing 1,000 persons, is terribly wrought up by what is described as a horrible monster. Every man, woman and child in the town is in a state of terror, and fully half of them fail to close their eyes in slumber except in broad daylight.

    The monster put in its appearance Monday night. U. G. Griffith, an implement dealer, drove into town at 1 a.m. and saw what seemed to be an electric searchlight on Maher & Grigg's Store. While he gazed it sailed across to another building and then disappeared.

    His story was not believed next day. But the following night Dr. A. C. Olcott, who sleeps in his office on the principal street, was awakened by a bright light shining in his face.

    He grabbed a shotgun and ran outside the building, where he saw a monster, seemingly half human and half beast, with great bat-like wings. A dazzling light that fairly blinded him came from a blunt, horn-like protuberance in the middle of the animal's forehead, and it gave off a stupefying odor that almost overcame him. The doctor discharged his weapon and fled into his office, barring doors and windows, and remained there in abject terror until morning.

    Peter Dunn, cashier of the only bank in the town, fearing bank robbers, loaded a repeating shotgun with shells filled with buckshot and prepared to guard his funds next night. At 2 o'clock he was blinded by the presence of a light of great intensity.

    Eventually he recovered his senses sufficiently to distinguish the monster, and fired through the window. The plate glass and sash were torn out and the monster disappeared. Next morning imprints of great three-toed feet were discernible in the soft earth. Plaster casts of them were taken.

    That night Dr. O. W. White saw the monster climbing down a telephone pole, using a beak much in the manner of a parrot. As it struck the ground it seemed to travel in leaps, like a kangaroo, using its huge, featherless wings to assist. It gave off no light. He fired at it, and he believes he wounded it. The shot was followed by an overpowering odor. Sidney Gregg, attracted by the shot, saw the monster flying away.

    But the climax came last night. The whole town was aroused by this time. Prof. Martin, principal of the schools, decided that upon the description it was an antediluvian animal. Shortly after midnight J. L. Platt, foreman of the brick plant, heard a peculiar sound in an abandoned coal mine, and, as the men had reported a similar sound before, a body of volunteers, started an investigation. Presently the monster emerged from the shaft, accompanied by a smaller one. A score of shots were fired without effect.

    The whole town was aroused and vigil was maintained the rest of the night, but without result, until just at dawn, when the two monsters returned and disappeared down the shaft.

  • "ANOTHER YELLOW MONSTER.", Tacoma Daily Ledger (Tacoma, WA): 4, 21 Oct. 1903, 

    There must be no assumption that the caption has reference to a new Hearst paper. It refers to a story published not far away, in the guise of a special telegram. Sometimes there is a fool at each end of a wire, but probably there exists none who would telegraph such stuff, or who would receive and pay tolls upon it. Suspicion will be aroused that the tale was received in some other way. Perhaps it was dreamed. Dreams are cheap, and if they occur after a hearty meal on something indigestible, as water-logged securities, might easily take the form of the narrative in question.

    The strange condition portrayed is said to prevail in an Iowa town. There a fearsome monster of the air hovers in the sky. It seems to have the manners of a bat, but more magnitude. The exact dimensions are not given, but from the terror inspired one might reasonably suppose the thing about the size of a whale. This idea is dissipated by the statement that the visitor was once detected in the act of climbing a telephone pole, probably with the purpose of tapping the current and finding what people were saying about it. One peculiarity is that by night the head of the monstrosity throws out a blinding light, like that of a locomotive, and in daytime the body emits an odor by the side of which the smell of a specimen of the genus Mephitis becomes as the odors of Araby. People have shot at the thing and never got a feather, hair nor drop of gore. They have reached such a stage of fright that they stay indoors and tremble. There is no statement as to what they think the thing intends to do with them. The last seen of it was as it disappeared into an abandoned coal mine. Science of the local brand explains that an antediluvian animal must have come out of a trance. An easier and far better explanation is that at the little town of Van Meter, Iowa, there is a wooden-headed, copper-bottomed double-riveted liar.

  • "MONSTER OF AWFUL FORM. Horrible Winged Beast That Appeared in an Iowa Town.", Weekly Telegram (Eau Claire, WI): 2, 27 Nov. 1903,