Van Meter Visitor

Named the “visitor” a non-threatening name. One shouldn’t assume the winged creature did not come in peace.

Van Meter is a city in Dallas County, Iowa, United States, situated along the Raccoon River. Van Meter was laid out as a town in 1869. The city was named after Jacob Rhodes Van Meter and his family, Dutch settlers from Meteren, the Netherlands. Van Meter was incorporated on December 29, 1877.

Van Meter is known for two things. The Bob Feller Museum opened on June 10, 1995, in honor of Bob Feller[1], a National Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher and a native of Van Meter. In September and October 1903 over a series of nights, there were multiple instances of people claiming to have seen a creature, half-human, half-animal with enormous smooth bat wings in and around Van Meter. The roughly nine-foot-tall being, which has since been dubbed the Van Meter Visitor, was reported to be able to shoot light from the horn situated on its forehead and be unaffected by bullets.

Clarence Dunn, one of the witnesses, had even made a plaster cast of three-toed footprints it left behind. A smaller, similar being sometimes accompanied it. After a community-led confrontation, the being disappeared after about four days, supposedly into the nearby coal mine.

It let off a powerful stench and scared the daylights out of them because it moved at speeds never seen before. Shots were fired each time, first by implement dealer U.G. Griffith as it flew across building tops. The monster shrug­ged them off like a minor nuisance. The next night the town doctor and bank cashier Peter Dunn separately saw the creature and opened fire.

The following night, O.V. White, reportedly a dead-eye with a gun, was awakened from his slumber in his quarters above the hardware store and shot at the creature that was perching atop a telephone pole. This awakened Sidney Gregg, who had been sleeping in his store nearby. Gregg said the monster hopped like a kangaroo. Even the local high school teacher saw it and deemed it some sort of an antediluvian monster. It seems there’s never a decent pitchfork-and-torch gathering these days, but back then towns­men were not averse to taking up arms and forming a posse.

So to the northwest side of Van Meter, they charged, near the old brickyard where J.L. Platt Jr. heard a noise down by the abandoned coal mine. Claims of witnessing bat-like creatures or phenomena have continued, including into the 2010s. Imagine what a smartphone in 1903 Van Meter could have accomplished. Instead of shouldering shotguns and blasting away at a nine-foot winged creature with a forehead horn that cast a beam of light, panicked citizens could have quickly posted a YouTube video. Case closed. Monster confirmed.

There is an annual Van Meter Visitor Festival held every September in the monster’s hometown. An event for fans of the paranormal and interested community members alike, the festival includes a walking tour of the supposed path of the creature. This amazing tale has survived and been retold for several generations now and a written version even exists in the town’s centennial book. The new book is the work of Chad Lewis, who has written over 15 books about the supernatural, plus co-authors Noah Voss and Kevin Lee Nelson and help from local librarian Jolena Walker.

The authors visited the quiet town and spoke to local residents who told them the stories about the creature which passed down and they visited several historic locations including the mine. Lewis says he has found no evidence to suggest the monster was a hoax, although he believes the facts of the story may have been embellished over the years. I learned about the Van Meter Monster on Josh Gate’s show “Expedition X” where Phil and Jess went to the town to unearth clues.

  1. Robert William Andrew Feller (November 3, 1918 – December 15, 2010), nicknamed “the Heater from Van Meter”, “Bullet Bob”, and “Rapid Robert”, was an American baseball pitcher who played 18 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Cleveland Indians between 1936 and 1956. In a career spanning 570 games, Feller pitched 3,827 innings and posted a win-loss record of 266–162, with 279 complete games, 44 shutouts, and a 3.25 earned run average (ERA). His career 2,581 strikeouts were third all-time upon his retirement. A prodigy who bypassed baseball’s minor leagues, Feller made his debut with the Indians at the age of 17. His career was interrupted by four years of military service (1942–1945) as a United States Navy Chief Petty Officer aboard USS Alabama during World War II. Feller became the first pitcher to win 24 games in a season before the age of 21. He threw no-hitters in 1940, 1946, and 1951, and 12 one-hitters, both records at his retirement. He helped the Indians win a World Series title in 1948 and an American League-record 111 wins and the pennant in 1954. Feller led the American League in wins six times and in strikeouts seven times. In 1946 he recorded 348 strikeouts, the most since 1904 and then believed to be a record. An eight-time All-Star, Feller was ranked 36th on Sporting News’s 1999 list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players and was named the publication’s “greatest pitcher of his time”. He was a finalist for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team in 1999. Baseball Hall of Fame member Ted Williams called Feller “the fastest and best pitcher I ever saw during my career.” Hall of Famer Stan Musial believed he was “probably the greatest pitcher of our era.”[1] He was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962 on his first ballot with the then-fourth-highest percentage of votes. He was elected the inaugural President of the Major League Baseball Players Association and both organized and participated in barnstorming exhibition games that featured players from both the Major and Negro leagues. Feller died at the age of 92 in 2010. [Back]


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Author: Doyle

I was born in Atlanta, moved to Alpharetta at 4, lived there for 53 years and moved to Decatur in 2016. I've worked at such places as Richway, North Fulton Medical Center, Management Science America (Computer Tech/Project Manager) and Stacy's Compounding Pharmacy (Pharmacy Tech).

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