Was the winged monster a villain, a hero, or a hoax?
It seems that every region has its own Bigfoot or Loch Ness Monster, and in West Virginia, the mythical beast known as the Mothman is something of a local celebrity. Specifically in the city of Point Pleasant, the Mothman is a driving force for tourism, with hundreds descending upon the city each September for an annual festival that commemorat
This year’s Mothman Festival celebrated the 50th anniversary of the very first Mothman sighting, which was recorded on November 12th, 1966. On that night, five men who were digging a grave in Clendenin, WV reported that a large figure, described as man-like, flew over their heads, and in the wake of that initial sighting, dozens of reports began to flood in of similar encounters.
Just a few days later, the most infamous Mothman sighting was reported. On November 15th, two Point Pleasant couples told local police that a large white creature with glowing red eyes and ten-foot wings followed them as they drove along the road, and their description was echoed by countless others. The Mothman was almost always described as a human-sized creature with wings and red eyes, and though nobody ever reported attacks of any kind, one resident notably told police that he believed the monster was responsible for his dog going missing.
But what’s most interesting about the Mothman legend is the creature’s connection to the December 15th, 1967 collapse of Silver Bridge, which ran between Point Pleasant and Gallipolis, Ohio. Forty six people lost their lives when the bridge collapsed, and many to this day believe the Mothman arrived in Point Pleasant as a harbinger of doom, warning of the impending collapse.
The 2002 film The Mothman Prophecies, inspired by John Keel’s same-named book, played up the Mothman’s possible connection to the Silver Bridge collapse, noting that the Mothman was never again seen in Point Pleasant after the tragedy. And indeed the sightings did stop in the wake of the bridge collapsing, furthering the theory that the events were connected.
Did the Mothman somehow cause the bridge’s collapse or did he arrive in Point Pleasant to warn residents of what was about to happen? Or maybe, as some believed at the time, the Mothman was actually just a large bird that wandered into the city. Of course, it’s entirely possible that it’s all just another case of a hoax spiraling out of control; perhaps the most likely explanation.
Then again, maybe the Mothman is still out there. Maybe your town is next.