- "All the reports refer to this object as a living thing -- in other words, one of the hypothetical atmospheric life forms that would figure in early theories about unidentified flying objects"
- ―Vincent Gaddis
The Crawfordsville Monster is an unidentified flying life form sighted in September of 1891, in the town of Crawfordsville, Indiana. It has since been regarded as one of the strangest cases in cryptozoological records.
This monster was described as a fearsome beast, about 18 ft (~ 5.5 m) in length and 8 ft (~ 2.4 m) in width, which propels itself through the air with multiple pairs of fins. Its body is white-colored and amorphous, save for the afore-mentioned wings and a single red "flaming eye". Its movements have been linked to a shroud or a wind-shaken flag, and it has been described as emitting a wheezing, agonizing sound suggestive of the creature being in great pain.
According to the story published by the Indianapolis Journal on September 5, 1891, the sky creature was observed by two ice delivery men, who described it as a "horrible apparition" and claimed that it circled a nearby house, hovering at 300 ft (~ 91.4 m) above the ground. At one point it seemingly left the area, but soon returned, at which point the two witnesses fled in terror. The same phenomenon was also reported by the Reverend G. W. Switzer and his wife on the same day, and by multiple others over the course of the next one.
According to the accounts, the creature appeared to be disoriented and feeling pain, as the witnesses claim that it "squirmed in agony" and produced a "wheezing, plaintive noise". Some claim that they could feel its hot breath as it swooped close towards them. On September 6, 1891, the monster flew all over the town and was spotted by more than 100 witnesses.
Celebrated paranormal researchers such as Charles Fort and Vincent Gaddis have helped to investigate and popularize the story of what is still categorized as one of several reports of living UFOs, occasionally associated with cases of flying serpents and dragons, which have been popular in folkloric and cryptozoolical reports from around the world. Fort in particular managed to locate and correspond with Rev. G. W. Switzer, who reaffirmed the story that the journal had published. The dozens of interviews conducted by Gaddis also corroborated with the story.
A mundane explanation for the monster was also suggested by the Crawfordsville Journal a few days later, after local investigators John Hornbeck and Abe Hernley allegedly "followed the wraith about town and finally discovered it to be a flock of many hundred killdeer", indicating that the newly-installed electric lights (put on three weeks before the first sighting) may have disoriented the birds.