Mothman is a legendary creature seen in the Point Pleasant area of West Virginia from November 15, 1966 to December 15, 1967. The first newspaper report was published in the Point Pleasant Register dated November 16, 1966, entitled “Couples See Man-Sized Bird…Creature…Something”.
In the 1975 a book titled The Mothman Prophecies by John Keel popularised Mothman and the book claiming that Mothman was related to a wide array of supernatural events in Point Pleasant and the collapse of the Silver Bridge. The 2002 film The Mothman Prophecies, starring Richard Gere, was based on Keel’s book.
The Mothman terrorized a town in West Virginia in 1966 and 1967, staring at locals with glowing red eyes, flying over their cars and causing radiation burns and even the collapse of the Silver bridge over the Ohio River.
The legend begins simply enough: a pair of young couples were driving around on November 15, 1966 near Point Pleasant, West Virginia. Their spot of choice was a former TNT factory, vacant since World War II. There they saw the figure of a large winged man with glowing red eyes. Fleeing in fear, the couples reported that the being took flight and shadowed their route home. They reported the sighting to police, and news spread.
Over the next few weeks, Mothman Mania took over Point Pleasant. Armed search parties scoured the TNT facility while numerous sightings poured in to the police and newspapers, each one describing a creature that was humanoid in shape, but grey or brown, with huge glowing red eyes and massive wings that unfurled from his back.
There’s been plenty of speculation about what was seen on November 15. One local Joe Nickell argued that they saw a barred owl. It’s native to West Virginia, has an unusual shape with large legs, is nocturnal and not commonly seen, has large eyes that can reflect light with a distinct red glow due to blood-rich vascular tissues within the eye, and has startlingly large wings. A lot of the witness drawings of Mothman do bear a remarkable resemblance to what a large barn owl might look like at night to observers who are already freaked out by being in a creepy abandoned TNT factory.
What followed that initial sighting was practically a textbook case of mass hysteria. A rash of sightings, only about a half dozen of which were well-documented in local newspapers. Many of the sightings bear little resemblance to the original Mothman description, involving men in black, strange lights and even poltergeists. Incidents ranged 50 or more miles from Point Pleasant. National tragedy the collapse of the Silver Bridge cause the Mothman stories and sightings to stop.
The Silver Bridge crossed the Ohio River, connecting Point Pleasant, West Virginia to Kanauga, Ohio. It was built in 1928 using a steel eye-bar design, innovative at the time. On the evening of December 15, 1967, one of the eye-bar connections failed due to a minute manufacturing defect exacerbated by stress and corrosion. The resulting bridge collapse killed 46 people. Suddenly, the people of Point Pleasant had far more important matters to deal with than Mothman sightings. Interest Mothman vanished almost instantly. The craze had passed.
It wasn’t till several years later that the collapse of the Silver Bridge and the sightings of the Mothman were connected by paranormal experts. The Movie the Mothman Prophecies suggests that The Mothman has been around for a long time and makes claims that the Mothman sightings were first recorded on cave walls and that Mothman has been sighted in areas around the world, just before major tragedy strikes.
What ever really happened in Point Pleasant will remain a true mystery, the sightings, the radiation burns, the collapse of the Silver bridge.
Look for the Mothman to point to major tragedy and you just might find it!