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Sheepsquatch

This bizarre, multi-horned, woolly, white beast is said to stalk the forested areas of Virginia and West Virginia, and remains one of the most enigmatic, large mammals as yet undiscovered in the wilds of the U.S.

The border between southwest Virginia and West Virginia is a densely forested mountainous region dotted with old coal mines and deep, dark, dangerous forests. The region is shrouded in mystery and rich in folklore, but few legends are more unusual and intriguing than that of the creature known to the locals as Sheepsquatch.

On the surface it’s difficult to take this outlandishly named animal — which is also known as the “white thing” — seriously, but this beast has allegedly been chronicled in Virginian folklore for decades, although few outside the vast expanse of Appalachian Plateau have ever heard of this as yet unclassified critter.

Eyewitnesses describe this quadruped as being a bear-sized mammal with large, razor-sharp teeth and a grizzly shaped cranium; although most accounts agree that its eyes are set noticeably lower in its head than that of a typical Ursidae. The thing is also said to be covered in a coarse coat of filthy, yellowish-white fur… now this is where it starts to get weird.

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Multiple observers have testified that this strange fiend does not have the claws of a bear, but raccoon-like hands and, even more bizarrely, it is said to have two big horns sticking out of the top of its skull like those of a juvenile goat. Further removing the thought that this might be some kind of mutated bear — or even hairy hominid— is the fact that this seemingly hybrid beast is said to have a long, hairless tail like that of an opossum. Many witnesses also claim that this creature reeks of sulfur.

While sightings of this beast have been reported in West Virginia’s Mason, Putnam and Kanawha counties, the bulk of the reports seem to hail from Boone County, where there appears to have been a wave of Sheepsquatch run-ins over the past few decades, particularly in the 1990s.

During 1994 — in a bone chilling event similar to one that befell an unfortunate boy who came face to face with the notorious Enfield Horror — two children claimed to have seen a huge, whitish monster while playing in their backyard. The children stated that the creature resembled a “white bear” and that it even reared up on its hind legs, making it (according to the kids’ estimates) over 6-feet tall.

There can be little doubt that this harrowing brush with the unknown was terrifying to the youngsters, but it was apparently the beast that was startled as it sprinted away from the youths tearing limbs off of trees as it went.

The next Boone Country episode hails from 1995. According to the report, a couple driving through the remote area had the scare of a lifetime when they spied a burly beast hunkered in a roadside ditch along that isolated Lover's Lane. The astonished driver slowed to a halt in order to get a better look at this unusual apparition, which he and his partner described as a hulking, ashen animal about the size of a bear.

Interestingly, the only detail of the couples’ description of this creature that seems to differ from the bulk of the reports is the almost inexplicable fact that they believed it had no less than “four eyes.” Of course, it’s possible that these witnesses mistook the dark horns on its head for an extra pair of eyes.

As if this sighting weren’t already frightening enough, the beast — in what is one of the only known accounts of Sheepsquatch violence — lunged out of the ditch and began ravaging the vehicle. The driver wasted no time in speeding away from the enraged beast and when the couple arrived home they noted deep scratches in the paint where the fiend had assaulted their car.

Sheepsquatch drawing

As frightening as the road tripping couples’ account may be, the next known Boone County altercation is even more terrifying. The event began in 1999, after a pair of campers set up shop in the forest not far from their rural Boone County home, no doubt hoping to get the benefits of relaxing in the woods without being too far from the comforts of home.

As the sun set and darkness began to creep through the trees the outdoorsmen lit up a campfire and sat around the crackling pyre enjoying good conversation, a warm evening breeze and, in all likelihood, a brew or two, but the peace and quiet that permeated their remote campsite would not remain for long.

As night drew on, the men began to hear what they described as a sort of animalistic “snorting” and “scuffling” sounds emanating from the trees that surrounded the campsite. The men were anxious, but confident that whatever it was lurking in the foliage wouldn’t dare to show itself near the campfire… they were wrong.

Without warning a huge, white, four-legged monstrosity thundered into the campsite, charging at the men. The campers, with no concern whatsoever for their gear, leapt to their feet and began sprinting through the dark, bramble ridden forest, praying that they would make it to the safety of their house before the beast caught up with them.

As luck would have it, as soon as the terrified men broke through the tree line the creature halted its pursuit and emitted what the campers’ described as a “terrible scream,” before it returned to its shadowy abode.

While it is virtually impossible to ascertain whether or not this creature may be carnivorous (or even omnivorous) this account and the previous one would seem to indicate that it is at least intensely territorial.

After a sleepless night — during which the panic stricken men surely kept a watchful eye for the creature’s return — the campers screwed up their courage and decided to go out and reclaim their supplies and camping gear, which they had so hastily (and sagely )abandoned so the night before. On their way back to the campsite, the men noted the damage that the monster had done, later stating that the earth had been torn asunder: “like someone had tilled it up for gardening.”

In 1994, in Mason County West Virginia, a Navy veteran named Edward Rollins — who was, ironically, tracking down evidence of Point Pleasant’s infamous avian anomaly the Mothman— claimed to stumble across an unbelievable creature while skulking through the woods near a creek in the notorious TNT area.

Rollins claimed that he had become interested in the Mothman phenomenon as a boy after he discovered his

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mother’s scrapbook containing newspaper clippings pertaining to West Virginia’s most terrifying temporary citizen. Following a 7-year stint in the Navy, the young sailor returned to his home in Gallipolis, Ohio, which is just a few miles away from Point Pleasant.

It would not be long after his homecoming that the young veteran’s  long lost interest in the unknown would become reignited, and seeing as his residence was so close to Mothman’s ground zero — so to speak — this amateur investigator decided to use the knowledge he had gleaned in the military to help in him in his field research. Here is an excerpt from Rollins’ account:

“My new hobby took me into the woods and “hollers” around the TNT area and to the homes of what witnesses who were alive and willing to talk about what they’d seen. While I found a great many points of interest in my investigation… I was not prepared for what I encountered along a creek bank north of Bethel Church Road.”

“I was walking the creek bank trying to run down some tips provided to me by an acquaintance … as I walked the creek I heard something large break through the brush ahead of me and I froze. Logic told me that it was at worse a large dog or even a stray cow, as there is very little in the way of predators in Mason county. Still, I’ve been a hunter since my teenage years and I knew well that the WV DNR [West Virginia Division of Natural Resources] had been actively repopulating absent native species: it was wholly possible that I was about to become face to face with something which might consider me lunch.”

“What I saw emerge from the brush was a large, brownish-white creature: its fur looked dirty and matted as if the animal did very little in the line of self grooming. I can’t be sure if I was looking at a dirty white animal or a brownish animal with a white undercoat. It was late in the fall so it makes sense that it might be putting on a winter coat. The creature moved on all fours as it breached the brush line and knelt to drink from the creek. Its front limbs, the only limbs I saw clearly, ended in what were markedly paw-like hands.”

“Its head was long and pointed, like a canine’s, and it had largish horns: not antlers but single point horns. I shrunk back into the brush and watched, afraid to stay and afraid to run. It drank for a few minutes, then cross the creek and continued on across toward Sandhill Road. When I was sure it was gone, I turned and ran as fast as I could back toward the pond where I’d parked.”

One of the many things that struck Rollins’ as odd regarding this strange mammal is that fact that it was surrounded by a sulfurous stench that was almost overwhelming. Rollins, being disinclined to attribute it to some kind of demonic or paranormal manifestation, speculated that this was due to the fact that the industrial pollution that had been dumped in the TNT area for decades has left

“The one thing that sticks out in my mind about this encounter most clearly is the way it smelled. It smelled like sulfur. Now, don’t think I’m screaming fire and brimstone here, I’m not. One of the biggest problems with the TNT area is the pollution from the manufacturing activities that went on there. The worst of this is the Red Water runoff generated by the production of gun powder. The area was a navy ammunition plant at one time and made gunpowder. Red Water, the cause to this date of the brownish-red foam seen in many of the run off ponds, has a sulfur content that should concern anyone exposed to it. It makes sense that anything living in this area should absorb some measure of that scent if they are drinking from these water sources.”

Another interesting run-in with this enigmatic entity purportedly transpired during June of 2011. This event was posted online on July 7th, and claimed to be an actual account of a Sheepsquatch encounter that allegedly occurred in Fairy Stone State Park, which is located in Patrick County, Virginia.

This park is named after the unique “fairy stones” — dark nesosilicate minerals with white streaks called Staurolite — which are found throughout the region.

The locale is also renowned for numerous perplexing events, but few can be more mystifying than the incident that was reported by a woman who identified herself only as “Teena.” In her own words:

“I hope you can give me an idea of what I saw a few weeks ago while hiking with a friend in Fairy Stone State Park in Virginia. We had been on one of the trails for about an hour when we stopped for a brief rest and drink. This was my first visit to this park and I was pleased that the area we were in was secluded.”

“After a few minutes of rest we continued to walk along the trail when my friend suddenly stopped and pointed towards the right at large group of rocks. Something was moving around but it was about 50 yards away so we didn’t get a very good look. We could see that it was light in color and was quite bulky.”

“We stood frozen wanting to know what this creature was though I was getting more frightened by the second. As we started to walk the creature moved onto a rock where we got a good look at it. It looked like a medium sized bear but the fur was very light in color, almost a yellowish gray. The head was very strange also. There was a snout like that of a bear but the dark round eyes were set lower on the head. It was looking in our direction and we had no intention on sticking around to see what it was going to do. We got back to the car and immediately left for home.”

It should also be noted that Alabama has its very own white thing, which is an uncannily similar to the shaggy, shrieking quadruped that allegedly lives in the rural Virginias. This beast is said to have lurked in the once thickly forested area surrounding an area known, ironically perhaps, as Happy Hollow Road.

Maybe these creatures represent the same (or at least similar) species of animals. Or should we consider the possibility that, following the urban encroachment that ruined its once isolated Alabama home, this animal — or, more likely, animals — migrated from its former habitat to the less populated Appalachian Mountains of West and southwestern Virginia? Then again, this thing is so weird maybe it’s from out of this world.

For more information on this and other bizarre and pigmentally challenged beasts from West Virginia read: “West Virginia’s Weird White Monsters” by Kurt McCoy.

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