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Braxton Monster Revisited – 5th Anniversary

Posted by: Loren Coleman on December 11th, 2010

With all the excitement about the Louisiana trailcam photo (above) this week, even if it is a fake, perhaps it is a good time to remember that this is happening on almost the exact 5th anniversary of another trailcam image, one from West Virginia.

The startling camera trap photograph of what appears to be an unknown bipedal creature were shared with Cryptomundo by a reader in early December 2005. The West Virginia photograph of the “Braxton Beast” was “captured” in a county with a well-known history of bizarreness.

Braxton Beast

The Cryptomundo correspondent, a 27-year-old gentleman, Frederick B. Gerwig, sent along this information in his initial email to me: “Here is a picture that my father’s wildlife camera (motion activated) took around 12/07/05. We are not sure what it is, but it doesn’t look human. It very well could be a hunter or something, however, my father’s property is posted and this is a wildlife feeding site approximately 400 yards from their Braxton County, WV home. The proportions seem very strange as compared to those of a human. It is possible that it is low light distortion, but it seems very curious. Sorry the picture is so small. The camera he uses is somewhat low tech to prevent theft as it stays stationed at this location all the time until he picks it up to download and review the pictures on his PC. Let me know what you think…we are baffled by this image.”

In a follow-up email, in answer to several questions I had, Mr. Gerwig wrote: “I think I mentioned earlier that this camera is unmanned as to not disturb the animals that come in to feed. There are many rock overhangs and crevices in this area that this thing might be using for shelter. In fact, approximately 100 ft in the direction in which the entity is walking there is a large rock overhang we used to get under to get out of the rain when I played in these woods as a child. It looks straight over my parents house. Behind the entity is an incline to the ridge line of the mountain and a large rock wall with a drop of several hundred feet. P. S. – In case I failed to mention in the initial email, my father’s property is posted for no trespassing, very few individuals are permitted to be in those woods.”

Braxton County, West Virginia, is the site of the “Braxton County Monster” reports of September 12, 1952, otherwise known as the “Flatwoods Monster” or “Green Monster” encounter.

Less well-known is an encounter in this general area that took place in 1960. At 11:00 P.M., Friday, December 30, 1960, bakery deliveryman Charles Stover rounded a curve on a lonely, backwoods road near Hickory Flats, West Virginia – between Braxton and Webster Counties – and saw a “monster, standing erect, with hair all over its body.” Stover said that he almost hit the thing and stopped his bakery truck a short distance away to look back. The hairy, six-foot-tall, man-shaped figure stood beside the road watching him. He stepped on the gas and finally stopped at a restaurant-filling station where he told his story to a group of men. They immediately armed themselves and went to the spot. They found strange marks on the ground and a large rocks had been overturned by something. But the creature was never found.

At the time, Cryptomundians and cryptos had much to comment about the image.

Shown (above) is the original photograph and a closeup of the image (below) of the “Braxton Beast” captured on film.

Braxton Beast

Copyright 2005 Frederick B. Gerwig. Permission to publish granted to Cryptomundo.com

Below are several enhancements of the Braxton Beast mystery photo submitted by W.M. Mott.

Braxton Beast

Do you see anything in these not seen in the original?

Braxton Beast

(Click on photo to see full-size image)

After the initial postings, Rick Noll added his insights in the following analysis:

I was hoping to receive a better image of this picture, but after waiting this long I decided to see what I could do with the picture (see NOTES below).

    1. The colors match the wood pile, not the leaves on the ground. This and the fact that there is a wood pile in the picture leads me to be believe the two are related.
    2. I don’t buy the story that this was a wildlife feeding station with a camera trap. The trigger sensor in all the cameras I am familiar with would not of recorded something moving at that distance nor quickly enough to get the subject so close after coming from behind the tree.
    3. It does appear that the subject is behind the tree.
    4. I agree that a dangling leaf most likely will not set off most camera trap sensors.
    5. The quality of this image tells me it is a very low grade camera trap. Not a very good lens, probably plastic… probably a disposable camera.

      I am leaning towards this being a picture in someone’s backyard of a tree that came down and was cut up and the pieces stacked in that pile. The wood seems very fresh colored in both the pile and what I am thinking is a shattered stump. I know that a lot of you want to believe it is the very devil himself on fire running through the Va. forests… but you have to stop looking with your mind for the reality checks.

      NOTES: I used Photoshop Elements 2.0 on a G5 Mac. I first resized the image copied from here, in Loren’s original posting.

      I then resized the image 10 times at 10% increments. This allows subsequent image editing a finer base of pixels to act on without losing resolution.

      Next I did an unsharp layer at .7 pixels and then another layer for a Gaussian blur under color only. Then flattened the image.

      On to color saturation. I tested each color until the majority of the subject reacted the greatest. I noted that the wood pile acted the same… under intensifying. The color was red.

      I then burned in the shadow areas on the red subject at 9% in 63 pixel sweeps. I burned in the highlights at 28% and 63 pixel sweeps as well. This added needed contrast to the subject and implying sharper detail to the human eye.

      Next I wanted to see if and emphasize the subjects’ relationship to the foreground tree placed it behind it. I used the embossing function and lit it from the same side as the original light source in the picture (even though it appears diffuse). In the layers tab you can quickly toggle this adjustment on and off, displacing the image with parallax and what I saw told me that the subject was behind the tree.

      One time I had a camera trap set up and it always went through a lot of film. Something was tripping it but not getting captured in the camera. Was it invisible? Was it too intelligent? Was it shy towards cameras? Was it too small? Too fast? Was it just the wind or falling leaves, swinging branches? I wondered.

      So I set out to see what was doing it…

      I sat for half a day watching the camera and sure enough, from a larger tree near by a couple of birds flew from and tried to attack the camera. The camera flashed and tried to take a picture. I watched it do this a couple more times and then went and retrieved the camera, setting it up in a different location.

      Developing the film still produced no images of what I had witnessed.

      Makes me wonder if where this picture was taken, they don’t have birds of that color. It could just be a bird that has swooped down to attack the intruding mechanism and is pulling up; wings folded down and slightly spinning it’s body as it does so.

      All of the above pictures are of birds indigenious to the area where the original Braxton picture is claimed to have come from. Pretty intense colors huh!?

      Or maybe it is something as simple as this -

      ++++

      The Braxton experience certainly told us that what is seen on a trailcam is not always what it at first appears to be. Care and caution should be exercised when examining any such “evidence.” ~ Loren

      About Loren Coleman
      Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013.


      2 Responses to “Braxton Monster Revisited – 5th Anniversary”

      1. SirWilhelm responds:

        After reading the parts about the birds attacking trail cams, I looked at the picture in question, and saw a Cardinal. Power of suggestion, or clarification based on the new knowledge? In my case, I’m pretty sure now, it’s a Cardinal.

      2. lpb responds:

        I don’t want to be the Devil’s advocate here, for no I don’t think it is Haides or Cthulhu or any other king of the netherworld wandering the woods of West Virginia. I do however want to dispute Rick Noll’s analysis of this picture. I own and use a cheaper brand trail camera,which I will not pinpoint with a company name because I don’t want to do any product placement nor product bashing here. Here are my responses and disagreements with his analysis:

        1. He claims the since the wood pile’s color similarly matches the subject’s that therefore they are related to each other. In my experience colors tend to be very closely matched in the woods, chipmunks blend with leaves, birds blend with branches etc. Also I found that similarly ‘matching’ colors occur when I get pictures of wildlife on my camera, I don’t know if this is due to the camera’s lens quality or something else, but it does happen. Reflections of light also tend to add seemingly out of place colors as well.

        2. His claim of distance is unfounded, I have gotten pictures of large mammals (deer mostly) from distances easily that far. Especially against lighter (snowy) backgrounds.

        3. This one I agree with, it does appear the subject is emerging from behind a the tree.

        4. I once had an entire memory card filled with pictures with no subjects, I too went out to watch the camera to investigate and found that a leaf, wildly flopping in the wind, was to blame. so yes leaves branches and other flora CAN in fact easily trigger a camera.

        5. The camera I use as aforementioned is cheap, but is by no means disposable and has captured hundreds (maybe in the thousands) of shots, all very pixelated upon any zooming.

        Lastly his leaning towards it being a picture someone took of a tree and a woodpile (maybe to show their accomplishment of the day?) seems silly to me as to the fact that the subject is therefore off center and far away. Wouldn’t you walk a little closer to the stump and the woodpile then? Maybe go passed the tree that would be blocking your view of the ‘stump’ in question? and if you were that proud of your lumberjack skills wouldn’t you have put more time into the woodpile itself stacking it neater for it’s photo op?
        I know I have vented here and I apologize for the long rant. I just think that if he was going to claim camera capabilities he should have at least done some homework first and tested a wide range of cameras, and not just went out and watched birds.



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