The 1903 Van Meter Visitor

A strange creature was said to have paid a visit to the small town of Van Meter in Iowa. Van Meter is situated west of Des Moines, just south of Interstate 80.The strange events occurred in October of 1903. Several respected members of the community told of a mysterious half-animal, half-human winged creature that terrorized some of the town's residents duringg several nights in the course of a week. Descriptions of the beast suggested that it had large bat-like wings, left a terrible stench wherever it went and, even stranger, it fired beams of bright light from its forehead.

The bizarre account recalls how several of the locals attempted to shoot the beast without their gunfire having any effect. Fed up with the menace, a group of townsfolk banded together one evening and pursued the creature to an abandoned coal mine. There they confronted not one, but two of the beasts, which both turned and disappeared down in to the gloom of the mine as the men opened fire, never to be seen again. more below


The Van Meter Visitor Creature was first noticed on an early morning Tuesday, Sept 29th, 1903. For the next five days, the small town of Van Meter Iowa residents lived in fear of this unknown creature. Until a few years ago the people from Van Meter were unfamiliar with the story that happened over one hundred years ago. Local archives are filled with a variety of impressive documents to preserve the event from the beginning of the Fall in 1903.

About 1 am, on the first night, U.G. Griffith noticed what appeared to be a burglar with some sort of light on the rooftop of one of the downtown buildings. When he approached the burglar jumped to another rooftop across the street (impossible for a man to do that) and it disappeared from view. Around 1 am the next night Dr Alcott was sleeping in a room at his office. He woke up with a bright light shining into his face through a window. Believing it to be a buglar, he grabbed his gun and ran outside where he encountered the perpetrator. The doctor witnessed a tall bipedal creature with bat-like wings. Dr. Alcott identified the source of the light as coming from a blunt horn in the creature’s forehead. He opened fire at close range, but the creature was unharmed, so he retreated back inside the building for safety.

Many of the people of Van Meter who heard or read about what happened believed it was just a buglar in a cape. A few days later Clarence Dunn, the local banker, brought along his shotgun to watch over the bank. At around 1 am Mr. Dunn was surprised by a strong blinding beam of light coming through the front window. It moved side to side as if scanning the room, then focused on Mr. Dunn. The banker fired off his shotgun at the body behind the light through the bank’s front window. The source of the light simply disappeared. In the morning Mr. Dunn found sets of large three-toed footprints outside the bank and rushed to make plaster casts of them. The casts were lost over the years.

On the same night that the banker was visited, Van Meter’s hardware store owner O.V. White woke up to a metallic rasping sound outside his room which was located on the 2nd floor of the store. Mr. White looked out his window and saw a creature resting on the crossbeam of a telephone pole during a heavy rain. Mr. White was a well-known marksman in Van Meter, so he took aim and shot the creature. It didn’t faze the creature which then saw White and released an overwhelming smell that knocked the marksman unconscious.

Sidney Gregg, White’s neighbor, woke up with the commotion and witnessed a bizarre creature coming down the telephone pole. The movements of the creature, while descending the pole, resembled that of a parrot using its huge beak. Once on Main St. the creature stood up and according to Mr. Gregg, it was at least eight feet tall. The creature then took off (some records says it walked and others it flew) to the old coal mine. But not before it used the light from its forehead as a scanner, as in previous incidents, to scan the town. Sidney Gregg described it as “bright…as an electric headlight.”

The next day the townsfolk reported eerie sounds coming from the abandoned coal mine located at the edge of town. The Des Moines Daily News interviewed residents of Van Meter that heard the sound. One described it as “though Satan and a regiment of imps were coming forth for a battle”. - Des Moines Daily News from Oct. 3, 1903. Witnesses reported that the creature and a second one, different, equally frightening, emerged from the mine and took off into the night. The mine was about 257 ft. deep to accommodate underground stables for mules.

Later, a mob with enough firepower to “have sunk the Spanish fleet” came to ambush the creatures when they returned to the mine. Just before dawn the creatures showed up and were welcomed by countless bullets fired in their direction. The firearms had no effect on the creatures. They released a noxious odor as a defense mechanism and crawled back, deep into the mine. The next day, October 3rd, 1903, “a force of men has been set to work to barricade the mouth of the mine” sealing the creatures inside. The Van Meter Visitor was never seen again. Today some of the locations and buildings still exist, including the remains of the Brick and Tile factory next to the old mine, that holds its own share of ghost tales.

The IOWAY natives that once lived in the region where the town of Van Meter sits had tales of humanoid-like birds that would shoot “lightning” from their eyes. Over the years reports of pterosaur-like animals have been reported in the neighboring states of Wisconsin and Missouri. If it was a pterosaur, how can anyone explain the beam of light? Bioluminescence could be one of the causes. It is the production and emission of light by a living organism. So far its only been found in marine vertebrates and invertebrates, some fungi, bioluminescent bacteria and terrestrial invertebrates such as fireflies. Mixing elements from cryptozoology creatures, the body description is similar to the Mothman of Point Pleasant, WV. However, that creature appeared in the 1960s and had glowing red eyes. The overpowering putrefactive odor is also common to Bigfoot, Sasquatch or Skunk-ape sightings.

Note from Bill Knell: I have often speculated that Aliens might come to Earth and release creatures from other worlds to see how they react to the environment, creatures and beings of Earth; or for their own, unknown reasons. I would chaulk this event up to Aliens. I believe that Aliens are also responsible for Bigfoot, Mothman, Lizard Man and the Flatwoods Monster events. In most cases those creatures appeared in conjunction with UFO Sightings. That may also explain how they disappear so suddenly and cannot seem to be caught. Iowa is a state where frequent UFO Sightings have occurred over the years. Additionally, other phenomenon such as cattle mutilations and missing animals have been reported in Iowa and neighboring states. These are linked to UFO Sightings as well. Some people reported missing animals during the Van Meter VISITOR sightings.

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