Sunday, October 23, 2016

Cryptid Creatures of South Central PA, Part IV: Old Red Eyes

'Old Red Eyes' illustration by Timothy Renner - all rights reserved.

Mothman is an entity first made popular by John Keel in The Mothman Prophecies, his excellent book detailing paranormal activity that centered around Point Pleasant, West Virginia in the 1960s, culminating in the disastrous Silver Bridge collapse in 1967. Besides UFOs, men in black, and other cryptid creatures, many witnesses reported seeing a strange winged thing. The Mothman was described as a roughly man-sized upright creature with huge bat-like wings, no discernible neck, and glowing red eyes.  Sometimes Mothman is described as almost machine-like, other times as more like a living creature, and sometimes as a shadowy thing that seems to shift between worlds. Keel, along with an army of researchers that followed him, has done an excellent job detailing the Point Pleasant Mothman cases. If you haven't read The Mothman Prophecies , most definitely start with that volume (skip the film of the same name) - but there are many other books and websites sharing information and theories about the Point Pleasant Mothman sightings. These sightings were not, after all, in South Central Pennsylvania ... so, I'll leave the West Virginia Mothman history to others.

That said, Mothman - or Mothman-like creatures - have been reported across the world. Often seen preceding or during grave disasters - outside of the Twin Towers on 9/11 and above the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant cooling towers, for instance. Here in South Central PA we have had ongoing sightings of a Mothman-like creature centered around an area called the Forks - where the Little Conewago stream meets the Conewago Creek, just north of New Oxford, PA in Adams County.

First reported by Lon Strickler at Phantoms and Monsters, he named the creature The Conewago Phantom but locals have been referring to the screaming red-eyed monster as Old Red Eyes. Lon himself was a witness to the creature in 1988 when he and some friends camped at the Forks to investigate strange crying sounds heard from the woods in the area. You can read Lon's full account here

Multiple other sightings have been reported since (the majority by Lon / Phantoms and Monsters) - from simple reports of glowing red eyes staring from the trees or terrible screams issuing from the woods, to boy scouts at Camp Conewago witnessing a 6-ft tall winged "dragon". Other folks have seen winged creatures by the roadside nearby. Perhaps most disturbing of all given the Silver Bridge disaster: one witness even saw Old Red Eyes flying over the bridge on Route 394 as it crosses the Conewago Creek.

Is Old Red Eyes actually Mothman - or an entity of the same type? Do the sightings foretell some sort of doom? The nature of the prophecies associated with Mothman - and indeed the nature of many of these cryptid/paranormal type sightings - is an element of the Trickster. There seems to be a twist or outright deception woven amongst any truths. The paranormal giveth with one hand and taketh with the other. It may be dangerous to guess what meaning the sightings have, if any, but multiple area witnesses have seen something strange indeed. Something which fits the description of Mothman.

For more on Old Red Eyes, South Central PA cryptids, ghosts, and other strange things, see Beyond the Seventh Gate.

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