Cryptids! West Virginia seems to be full of these weird and evasive creatures that science ignores since they have not been proven to exist...yet. Mothman is our most famous cryptid in the Mountain State and even Hollywood agrees. Have you seen the movie starring Richard Gere? "The Mothman Prophecy" was released in 2002 and was based on the 1975 book by author John Keel. The weirdness of Mothman continues on with the annual Mothman Festival each September in Point Pleasant. However, let us start back in 1966 with the first documented sighting.
The odd events connected to the Mothman began on November 12, 1966 near Clendenin, West Virginia. Five men were in the cemetery that day, preparing a grave for a burial. Something that looked like a "brown human being" lifted off from some trees and flew right over their heads. The men were surprised, as it did not appear to be a bird, but more like a man with huge wings. This was just the beginning of the Mothman saga, West Virginia's oddest and most documented creature sighting!
The following week on November 15, 1966, two young couples in the Mason county town of Point Pleasant, were out for a car ride late at night. The Scarberrys and the Mallettes were traveling in Scarberrys' car and were driving through an abandoned World War II TNT factory area. This area is about seven miles north of Point Pleasant. They noticed two red lights in the shadows as they stopped the car. They reportedly discovered that the lights were the glowing red eyes of a large animal, "shaped like a man, but bigger, maybe six and a half or seven feet tall, with big wings folded against its back," according to Roger Scarberry. In terror, they drove toward Route 62, where the creature supposedly chased them at speeds exceeding one hundred miles per hour.
Over the next thirteen months, hundreds of Mothman sightings came forth. Teachers, law enforcement, homemakers and pilots made reported sightings. It seemed everyone in the Mountain State, and even in Ohio and Kentucky, were looking anxiously to the woods and fields for Mothman to appear again. Some would come to believe that the sightings of Mothman, as well as UFO sightings and encounters with "men in black" in the area, were all related. Some spoke of a government cover up. Researchers and monster hunters descended on the area in droves. UFO sightings continued in the area, people gathered along the Ohio River to look at the "lights" and sat in the woods to watch for the Mothman. Many say the grim conclusion of the Mothman tale ended in disaster.
On December 15, 1967, the Silver Bridge that spans the Ohio River from Point Pleasant West Virginia to Ohio collapsed. It was full of traffic and the accident resulted in the deaths of forty-six people. Investigation of the wreckage pointed to the cause of the collapse being the failure of an eye bar on the bridge but there were rumors that the Mothman had been seen flying near the bridge before it fell into the icy Ohio River.
Some speculate that the Mothman's appearance was an omen of death and bad luck. Point Pleasant has had more than its fair share of fires, floods and accidents. A few souls point their finger at Chief Cornstalk and his alleged cursing of the areaand some claim it is simply the Mothman's fault. It is interesting to note that there are a few people who still claim to see the Mothman while others say he disappeared after the bridge collapse.
The Mothman is truly one of West Virginia's bizarre and weird tales and will continue to be for many more generations. To visit the area for yourself, stop by The Mothman Museum in Point Pleasant, check out www.mothmanlives.com, or hang out at the annual Mothman Festival on September 17-18. I will be one of the many speakers sharing various programs on the weird, haunted and on Mothman himself! The best part of the festival is that it is free to attend. Some come on out and get your weirdness on. You will not be alone as thousands of souls attend!