1903 was an interesting year. The first World Series was played, Crayola Crayons came into existence, and a small town in Iowa had a rude awakening in the fall to a creature that you definitely don’t see in your everyday “Animals of Iowa” guidebook.
The Van Meter Visitor has been described as an 8 foot tall half man – half winged monster with a horn on its head that shot out a blinding white light. Notable businessmen saw the monster and were horrified. U.G. Griffith saw it hopping from business top to business top downtown late one night. Doctor Alcott also saw the monster one night and fired multiple rounds from his gun into it which had no effect. A bank manager, Clarence Dunn, confronted it as well with a shotgun one night but all he could find were humongous footprints outside the next morning. A local hardware store owner, O.V. White, saw the monster sleeping on top of a telephone pole one night and attempted to shoot it with his gun. This did not kill the monster which retaliated by releasing a terrible smell towards the gentleman. Sidney Gregg, Mr. White’s neighbor, saw the creature climb down the telephone pole and then fly through the town towards the old coal mine on the outskirts of Van Meter..
At the end of 3 days the townspeople were at their breaking point. A gang of men went to the area of the mine where they stayed all night waiting for the monster. The Des Moines Register reported that the noise coming from that area was like “Satan and his imps were coming forth for a battle.” Before sunrise the monster returned to the mine with a smaller creature alongside of it. The men opened fire with their weapons with enough firepower to “sink a Spanish fleet” which caused both creatures to retreat into the mine. We don’t know what happened to the Van Meter Visitor in the end as it was never part of the written report.
There have been reports of “flying things” recently in the area of Van Meter. Could it be a devil or a whooping crane or a left over pterosaur that never died out? Also, there have been reports that the Ioway Indian tribe, once from the same region, having legends and tales of “winged flying thunderbirds that could shoot lightning from their eyes”. There’s too many questions for this case to be closed just yet. Every year in the fall there is a Van Meter Visitor Festival in the town and you can be sure that Unknown Midwest will be there to find out the truth behind the visitor. Stay tuned!