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Gather Round Y'all For Bigfoot, Witches And Spooky Tales Inside Appalachia

Hand-carved wooden bench depicting two Bigfoot.
Roxy Todd/ WVPB
/
A hand-carved wooden bench depicting two Bigfoot.

A few weeks ago, we asked listeners to share your favorite spooky stories from across Appalachia. This week’s special Halloween episode of Inside Appalachia is packed with ghost stories and mysteries from across the region.

In This Episode:

Museums
Central West Virginia has a new monster museum that pays tribute to Bigfoot. The Sutton museum is small, and located in the back of a store that sells knick-knacks and handmade items by local artisans. The museum was created to document local sightings of what people described as these big, hairy primate-looking creatures.

As if one monster museum weren’t enough for a small town, Sutton is home to two. The Flatwoods Monster Museum is just about a block away. And like the Bigfoot museum, it’s dedicated to a cryptid that’s become part of modern pop culture.

Spooky Season

Fall is a season of spooky sounds, hayrides and pumpkin festivals. It’s a time for bats and owls and black cats. We’ll hear what happens when a self-proclaimed scaredy-cat takes a Halloween-themed wildlife tour.

In 2019, reporter Brittany Patterson went on the "Spooky Nights Tour" at the West Virginia Wildlife Center, where visitors of all ages could see wild animals in the dark. Note, the Wildlife Center has stopped these special tours, for now, but they are still open during the day, so you can visit the wolves, panthers and otters that live there.

 

Witches
The story of the “Witch of Wildwood” takes place in a small coal camp town outside of Beckley. In the early 20th century a person named Kazimir Kiskis moved to town. Kazimir didn’t fit in with the locals and Kazimir cooked food that smelled unlike anything the locals had ever experienced. One day the locals accused Kazimir of practicing witchcraft, potentially even casting a spell on local children. The night before Halloween, Kazimir was burned at the stake.

We’ll hear Beckley historian Scott Worley explain the story behind the supposed “Witch of Wildwood.”

Skeletons
You can’t have Halloween without skeletons. In this episode, we hear a story about a skeleton named Mr. Death and how an elderly woman outwitted him by enlisting him to help with house-cleaning.

Storyteller Lyn Ford told this story several years ago at the Timpanogos Storytelling Institute in Utah. Ford lives in Columbus, Ohio, but she grew up in Appalachian Pennsylvania and spent childhood summers in East Liverpool, Ohio. She says many of the stories she tells are adapted from folktales she heard as a child.

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Music in this episode is by Colby White, Nora Keys, Slate Dump, Tosca and The Soaked Lamb. Roxy Todd is our producer. Our executive producer is Andrea Billups. Kelley Libby is our editor. Our audio mixer is Patrick Stephens. Zander Aloi also helped produce this episode.

Caitlin Tan is working as Inside Appalachia’s folklife reporter, as part of a Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies grant. The goal of her reporting is to help engage a new generation in Appalachian folklife and culture.
Mason Adams grew up near the Virginia/West Virginia border in Clifton Forge, Virginia. He’s covered mountain communities and the issues affecting them since 2001. His work has appeared in Southerly, Daily Yonder, 100 Days in Appalachia, Mother Jones, Huffington Post and elsewhere. He lives with his family and a small herd of goats in Floyd County, Virginia. Follow him on Twitter @MasonAtoms.
Roxy Todd joined West Virginia Public Broadcasting in 2014 and works as the producer for Inside Appalachia. She's the recipient of a National Edward R. Murrow Award for "Excellence in Video," for a story about the demands small farmers face in West Virginia. She also won a National PMJA Award For "Best Feature" for her story about the history of John Denver's song "Country Roads." You can reach her at rtodd@wvpublic.org.