- "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
One of the most bizarre cryptozoological cases comes out of a town called Crawfordsville, Indiana. During September of 1891, a story carried by the Indianapolis Journal reported that at two o'clock the previous morning a "horrible apparition" appeared in the sky overhead, where two men who were working on a wagon saw it. It was apparently propelling itself with several pairs of fins and circled a nearby house. It disappeared shortly after into the east but soon returned. The two men at that time fled for their lives. However they were not the only observers of this monstrosity; a Methodist pastor named Rev. G. W. Switzer and his wife also saw the animal. The creature writhed as though in great pain, "squirmed in agony" and sounded a "wheezing, plaintive noise" as it hovered at 300 feet. At one instance it swooped down on a band of onlookers who swore they could feel it's "hot breath." Another alleged sighting occurred on September 6, 1891, when the atmospheric creature reportedly flew over the town and was witnessed by over 100 people. Much of what is currently recorded about the creature comes from interviews conducted by Vincent P. Gaddis, a journalist working in Crawfordsville, and member of the Fortean Society. Gaddis contends that the monster was a living creature, and not a mechanical UFO. Some contemporary cryptid resources list the Crawfordsville monster as being a serpent or dragon, others label it an atmospheric beast. Charles Fort investigated the matter, he was convinced that there was no Rev. G.W. Switzer. To his surprise he learned that there was indeed such a man and corresponded with the man who did affirm the story. Later a reporter named Vincent Gaddis investigated the matter. He interviewed dozens of witnesses who all related the tale of the mass sighting, telling him the story was true. The final pieces of evidence, often overlooked is that this creature was seen a mere three weeks after the first electric lights were installed in the town, and also ignored is the final installment of the article, written a month after the sightings, in which the writer hunted down this thing until daylight and found it to be a vast flock of birds, acting in a large group movement, a sight common in more remote places, but not so in populated areas. Therefore, the Crawfordsville Monster, although a good story, is purely one of incomplete research, kept alive by selective reporting, and without the factors of the local population being completely unfamiliar with the effects and shadows of electric lighting, which was new to the area.
The citizens of Crawfordsville described a violently flapping "thing" with a flaming red "eye", twenty feet long and eight feet wide. Descriptions of the creature vary, with some accounts suggesting that it had no head, and others describing it as having glowing red eyes and hot breath. Accounts generally agree that it is a large rectangular creature, possibly eel like in appearance, with several undulating fins down the sides of its body. Witnesses at the second appearance described the creature as writhing and squirming, and as producing a wheezing sound, as if it were in pain.