If there’s an alien flying a UFO, a sinister creature lurking in the West Virginia countryside, or a grinning “Man in Black” espousing prophesies, then it must be Indrid Cold. The legend of Indrid Cold is unique. Within modern lore, no man (or thing) has been connected to other legends as he has been. From the Mothman prophesies to the “Men in Black” UFO conspiracies, his name has surfaced as a likely source for the two. With so many sources, it’s hard to tell who or what Indrid is.
Was Indrid Cold the Mothman?
Indrid’s origins appears to come from West Virginia. This particular portion of the legend is a fact. The recorded first account of him was made in John Keel’s book The Mothman Prophesies. The Mothman is a winged creature that was purported to show up in the Point Pleasant, West Virginia, near the Ohio Border just before a catastrophe was about to happen. Keel was an investigative reporter of paranormal claims who came to the region to research the Mothman.
According to Keel, he received a mysterious phone call. The caller, who identified himself as Indrid Cold, gave him a cryptic and supposedly prophetic message. Further investigation by Keel revealed that many people who saw the Mothman also saw a person they nicknamed the “Grinning Man” or “Man in Black.” Some of these eyewitnesses claimed that Indrid Cold and the Mothman were the same.
Mothman and the Silver Bridge
Possibly the most infamous of all the Mothman sightings occurred on January 11, 1967. The cryptid was spotted hovering above Silver Bridge, an eye-bar chain suspension bridge which connected Point Pleasant and Gallipolis, Ohio, on the opposite side of the Ohio River. On December 16, 1967, the bridge collapsed, killing 46 people. Since that incident, the Mothman was seen as a prophet of doom. With the accounts of Indrid Cold’s cryptic phone call, he too was given the same title.
Later, Keel would get a better description of Indrid after he interviewed two New Jersey teenagers who claimed to have seen a “tall man with a big old grin.” They described him as having no hair, ears, or nose. He had beady eyes, a big grin, and he wore a green suit that shimmered under the street lights.
The Mothman/Indrid Cold legend persisted for years. Eventually, Keel would release his book, turning the local folklore into a national legend. This connection between the two would become a pivotal part of the movie adaptation of Keel’s book.
An Alien or a Weird Guy?
However, there are those unconvinced of Keel's claim. There are claims that Indrid Cold’s real origin was from another West Virginia town. According to a writer on a blog from a group called the Weird Tales Paranormal Investigation Organization, the Indrid Cold story happened in the town of Parkersburg. The writer (who evidently is a resident of this town) states that Indrid “was a strange man that came out of nowhere.”
“I think he was an alien man in black but he wasn’t in Point Pleasant,” he wrote, “because he seemed nicer than the other one that was described in [Point Pleasant].”
According the blog, Indrid Cold arrived in town in 1966, about the same year when the Mothman was being reported in Point Pleasant. To support his claims, the writer included a lengthy taped interview with a witness from 1966.
The person, salesman “Woody” Woodrow Derenberger, stated in the interview that he came across Indrid Cold while traveling on Interstate 77. He claimed to see a car being chased by an unidentified flying object. The car sped off. However, the UFO swerved and stopped in front of Derenberger’s truck, forcing him to slam the brakes.
After it landed, Derenberger stated that a man left the “object” and approached his car. He was described as being 6 feet tall, 185 pounds, between 30 to 40 years of age, and wearing a suit similar to the typical men in black appearance. He was also grinning from ear to ear.
“He told me to roll down the window,” he said. “He actually told me to roll down the window on the right hand side of the truck.”
The stranger, who would later identify himself as Indrid Cold, told Derenberger not be frightened and that “we don’t’ mean any harm.” The meaning of “we” was never fully explained.
In another blog, the writer claimed that Derenberger and Indrid communicated telepathically for 5 to 10 minutes. The topic of their conversation was less than earth shattering; it seemed that Indrid wanted to know what the “distant lights” were. Derenberger stated that the lights were in Parkersburg. Much of the interview was convoluted (the reporter asks at one point if Derenberger was a "drinker of intoxicated drinks").
Derenberger claimed after the conversation that he was told that Indrid would communicate with him in the future. Indrid immediately boarded his saucer and took off.
The end result of this strange tale had an effect on the legend of Indrid Cold. Instead of being a part of the Mothman legend, he was now associated with UFO lore. Perhaps the two subjects are related.
As the 1960s ended, the legend of Indrid cooled. However, he wasn’t forgotten. In the new millennium, several blogs and websites were created in his honor. Websites such as Unexplainable.net were reporting that Indrid had returned from outer space.
On January 20, 2011, Chris Capps wrote an entry for the blog entitled “Has Indrid Cold Returned?” In the article, he described a 2003 sighting of a “Grinning Man in his vehicle hovering over the treetops at an altitude of 200 feet."
Indrid Cold may have started as a shady character involved with the Mothman legend. However, over the years, he managed to become a part of UFOlogy as well as a legend in his own right. Real or imagined, Indrid has staked his place in modern lore. Perhaps his longevity is responsible for the big grin he has.
© 2014 Dean Traylor
John Hansen from Australia (Gondwana Land) on December 11, 2014:
Interesting hub Dean. I had heard of The Mothman but not Indrid Cold. Guess I need to watch the Mothman Prophesies. Voted up.