MORGANTOWN — Mothman.
When it comes to cryptids — creatures whose existence is claimed but never proven — it’s hard to believe any state can hold a candle to West Virginia.
But it’s only recently that a creature believed to be the most diabolical of them all was uncovered by a young cryptozoologist-in-training while poring over historical references at the Morgantown Public Library’s Aull Center.
“It’s a cow, dog and buffalo, and it’s very, very chunky,” said the researcher, who simply cannot be named for fear of Beefalo backlash. “She’s got beautiful, luscious lips and she’d probably eat you.”
The Beefalo was the result of a three-week cryptids series for teens at the Aull Center for Local History and Genealogy Research.
Before teens set to work creating their own mysterious monstrosities, they got a look at the state’s fascination with legendary creatures.
“West Virginia, for a couple reasons, has a pretty extensive cryptid lore compared to other states. Other states might have one or two, but West Virginia has six to eight cryptids,” Aull Center Researcher Nathan Wuertenberg said, noting the legends have often served as a kind of community escapism.
For example, in the case of the Grafton Monster, most of the town turned out for a monster hunt.
“Typically when you see cryptid stories crop up it has something to do with economic insecurity or moments when people are trying to deal with collective trauma,” Wuertenberg said. “So with the Grafton Monster, a lot of the factories in town had just recently closed down when they discovered the Grafton Monster. With Mothman, it was in the context of the Silver Bridge collapse. It’s something to do and something to talk about in a time of hardship.”
While creating cryptids is fascinating, it’s just one of the activities teens are getting up to at the Aull Center these days.
Amanda Young, who heads the center’s teen programing, said they’ve got a little bit of everything going on, from reading and writing clubs to anime clubs — complete with Pokemon terrariums — to studies on topics like sea shanties and the dystopian.
Young said anyone interested in joining can get additional information at the Morgantown Public Library or look the center up on Facebook.
In the meantime, everyone is advised to keep their eyes peeled.
“She’s anywhere and nowhere, all the time,” the Beefalo expert warned. “And very chunky.”