Posted on September 23, 2020
In today’s feature article, we’re going to talk about Mothman, one of Americana’s newest and most famous folktales. Mind you, I’m going to write about the Point Pleasant Mothman, and the phenomenon behind the tale and all that supernatural boiling pot, just that Mothman. Why do I clarify that, well, because Mothman or Mothmen, or whatever they might be, have a rather peculiar habit of showing up right before all hell break loose.
- In Chernobyl right before the reactor went quite literally nuclear.
- In Japan before the 2011 Tsunami.
- In Salem, West Virginia, before a particularly strange string of child disappearances.
- Right before the Mexican swine flu outbreak of 2009.
- Georgian newspaper Svobodnaya Gruziya, interviewed Russian UFOlogists. The man claimed that the Mothman was sighted in Moscow right before the 1999 Russian apartment bombings.
Those above are just some of the sightings of these being. The creature overtimes has become a harbinger of doom and destruction. Nonetheless, for today’s tale, we’re going to focus on the most famous Mothman in history, the Point Pleasant one… the rest will just have to wait for their turn in the limelight.
The West Virginia Mothman
On November 16, 1966, an article appeared in the Point Pleasant Register titled “Couples See Man-Sized Bird … Creature … Something.”
The national press soon picked up the reports and the story spread like wildfire across America. Journalists descended on Point Pleasant, West Virginia, and soon more and more sightings of that elusive “something” started popping up.
As it turned out that couple, which we’ll talk about later, weren’t the first ones to have witnessed that peculiar “something”.
On November 12, 1966, five chaps who were digging a tomb at a graveyard near Clendenin, West Virginia, alleged to have observed a man-like shape fly low from the trees right over their heads. A “brown human being,” with wings. The gravediggers dismissed the whole event as a trick of the light or just their deadly nerves playing tricks on them, so they didn’t report it until the story hit the press.
The One That Started it all
“If I had seen it while by myself, I wouldn’t have said anything, but there were four of us who saw it.”
On November 15, 1966, two budding couples from Point Pleasant, Roger and Linda Scarberry, and Steve and Mary Mallette, went bananas when Mothman pursuit them for a couple of miles and basically scared the bejesus out of them.
The twosomes told police they observed a large grey creature whose eyes “glowed red” come out of nowhere just as their car’s headlights veered into a corner.
The creature they said was able to fly at impossible speeds, as much as 100 miles per hour. They being chased their car to the outskirts of town and then, scurried into a nearby track of green-land and disappeared. It vanished in a part of the town known as the “TNT Area”, the site of a former World War II munition’s plant.
They reported that the being had a “large flying man with ten-foot wings.” That it was incredibly cunning and particularly interested in their vehicle.
Throughout the following days, other people described sightings of Mothman.
Two volunteer firemen saw it: “large bird with red eyes”.
Mason County Sheriff George Johnson noted that he thought the sightings were due to an oddly big heron he termed a “shitepoke”. Yes, I know it sounds icky, but that’s what he called it I’m just reporting the facts.
Contractor Newell Partridge informed Johnson that when he pointed a flashlight at a being in a nearby plot of desolate land its eyes glowed “like bicycle reflectors.” Newell also balmed an annoying droning noise from his television set and the disappearance of his German Shepherd dog on the monster.
The Gettysburg Times announced eight extra sightings in three days following the first claims.
Meanwhile, everyone was coming up with a theory. Wildlife biologist Dr. Robert L. Smith informed reporters that reports and sightings all fit the sandhill crane. The crane a large American bird with a seven-foot wingspan with circles of red coloring around the eyes. Point Pleasant, Smith told the press, wasn’t part of the crane’s migration route, but who knwos.. maybe it just wandered from the group.
The Silver Bridge Collapse.
For over a month, people continued to see the Mothman, not only that, but a series of supernatural occurrences started to plague the city of Point Pleasant. Strange lights were seen circling the area. People continually complained that their TV sets were acting wonky and that there was a constant buzzing in the air. Animals would bark at nothing and most were afraid to go out at night. Stange men in black overcoats roamed the street.
All the weird shenanigans stopped on December 15, 1967, when the Silver Bridge collapsed. It was a before and after for the town and a smudge on the record they will never get under off.
The Silver Bridge was a suspension bridge constructed in 1928 and named after the color of its aluminum paint. The platform carried U.S. Route 35 over the Ohio River, and joined Point Pleasant, West Virginia, and Gallipolis, Ohio. It was relatively solid.
On that fateful December evening, the Bridge crumbled under the weight of rush-hour traffic. The disaster resulted in 46 recorded deaths Two of the victims were never recovered.
Examination of the debris signaled that the cause of the collapse was the failure of a single eyebar in a suspension chain. The analysis revealed that the bridge was moving much heavier payloads than it had originally been planned for. The crumpled bridge was replaced by the Silver Memorial Bridge, which was completed two years later.
And Mothman? He just vanished, never to be seen again in the area.
The Mothman Prophecies
The title describes Keel’s chronicles of his research into alleged sightings of Mothman in the vicinity of Point Pleasant, West Virginia.
It connects these stories and reports with his arguments about UFOs and numerous other supernatural events that occurred during that month in Point Pleasent. Keel, was one of the first to bring forth the theory that the Mothman might be a harbinger of doom or even a watcher and recorder of these events.
One of his hypothesis claims that the Point Pleasant inhabitants experienced some sort of collective precognitions. That they somehow manifested omes that signaled the collapse of the Silver Bridge, unidentified flying object sightings, visits from inhuman or threatening men in black, and other phenomena.
Folks have often speculated that Mothman might be either an alien, a transdimensional being, an angel – sent by God to warn humanity -, a ghost, or even a skinwalker.
The 2002 film The Mothman Prophecies, starring Richard Gere, was based on Keel’s book. The film is loosely based on the book and takes a couple of liberties, nonetheless, over time, it has garnered a cult following. Since its premiere, the film has once more sparked interest in the Mothman phenomenon and it has increased the area’s tourism trade.
Some pseudoscience followers – ufologists, paranormal authors, and cryptozoologists – are certain that Mothman was either an alien, a supernatural manifestation, or a previously unknown species of animal. They are firm believers that the Mothman was a harbinger or an observer and that beings of its kind have plagued mankind since the dawn of time.
Due to its popularity, an annual festival in Point Pleasant is dedicated to the Mothman legend.
In June of 2020, a petition was sprung up to replace all Confederate statues in the United States with representations of Mothman. As of July 2020, the appeal has amassed over 2,000 signatures. Maybe in a month or a year, I’ll have to update this article and put an addendum. “The South is full of Mothman statues, half the United States is scratching its head and asking, ‘what the?'”