The West Virginia Legend? Or a Real Creature Sent to Warn Us?
This is the start of Paranormal Overtime on TheOvertimeNetwork.com. Before I created Paranormal Overtime (articles and podcast), I did a podcast called Paranormal Review (all episodes are in the back catalog of Paranormal Overtime) where I reviewed different paranormal TV. With this new project, I plan to continue do that, but also to branch out into paranormal topics, conspiracy theories and happenings in the paranormal community. Please follow Paranormal Overtime on any major podcast platform and check The Overtime Network for any new articles. Hopefully soon, I’ll be coming up with some chats, talks and videos.
If you listened to Paranormal Review, it may seem weird to have me choosing this topic. Well it’s actually not. See I’m from West Virginia. However, me not being into the paranormal until later in life had no clue about the Mothman until my late 20’s. My sister let me in on WV’s best kept secret. One of her best friends’ dad was taking a group of them to look for the Mothman. I had never heard of the story and was interested in what this even was. She told me after her late night trip all about it. No, they didn’t see him or find him.
The Root of the Mothman Sightings?
The earliest known sighting of the Mothman, who is supposed to look somewhat human but can fly, was November 15th, 1966 in the Point Pleasant area of West Virginia. Many in this area said they saw the Mothman between this date and December 15th, 1967. Now since I’m a little bit…well maybe a whole lot right now about this…of a skeptic, I wonder if the sightings increased because the Point Pleasant Register reported on the Mothman on November 16th, 1966. The report titled “Couples See Man-Sized Bird … Creature … Something” caught national attention which spread the story/report across the United States. There are some that swear at least 100 people in Point Pleasant saw the Mothman. Many talked about it after the fact stating that they were scared to say that they had because no one would believe them. If you were from that area, would you say you saw the Mothman?
So, my parents were in high school at the time and according to my dad it was a big deal for a short period of time. They both lived within about 30–45 minutes of Point Pleasant. My dad said he never saw the Mothman, but he really wasn’t looking for it either. After a while, it all died down and wasn’t talked about much in the state. Well, we all know true events/great stories can’t die, so it shouldn’t be surprising that believers/writers brought it back to the public’s attention.
The Start of the Mothman
On November 15th, 1966, (supposedly) two couples from Point Pleasant told the police that they saw a large “creature” whose eyes “glowed red” and appeared to be gray as their car’s headlights showed it. Roger and Linda Scarberry and Steve and Mary Mallette described the Mothman as a “large flying man with ten-foot wings” that followed their car into “The TNT area” which was the site of a former World War II amunitions plant and some bunkers. It has been suggested that these bunkers have leaked toxic materials that possibly affected nearby animals. Over the next couple days, other people started reporting seeing the Mothman also. They said this creature was able to fly at incredible speeds (perhaps as fast as 100 mph). All of them agreed that the creature was a clumsy runner on the ground. However, some of them weren’t exactly alike.
The Mason County Sheriff George Johnson said that he believed that the sightings were due to an unusually large heron. Point Pleasant is a town in Mason County. Newell Partridge, a contractor from Salem, West Virginia, told Sheriff Johnson that when he aimed a flashlight at the creature in a field that its eyes glowed “ like bicycle reflectors.” Now, he also blamed buzzing noises from his TV and the disappearance of his German Shepherd dog on this creature. Two volunteer firemen said they saw a “large bird with red eyes.” Could it have been the sandhill crane?
The Crane Theory?
A wildlife biologist, Robert L. Smith at West Virginia University told reporters that these descriptions of the sightings fit the sandhill crane. It is a large bird almost as tall as a man that has a seven-foot wingspan featuring eyes that have reddish coloring circles. He said it could have gotten out of its migration route. Therefore, many people wouldn’t have recognized it because it wasn’t native to the region.
Some people have said that many who suffer from sleep paralysis have visions that are nothing more than the embodiment of typical human fears pulled from the depths of the unconscious. The Mothman stories bears resemblance to the different demon archetypes that our society has. So could it be like sleep paralysis? That people heard the stories of the Mothman looking somewhat like a demon with red eyes that when they panic then they put it on real life animals.
I guess we should go over our definition of paranormal which is anything that we can’t explain. Something that’s not “normal.” There have been numerous theories that weave aliens, UFOs and precognition together. So is the Mothman a harbinger of doom? Did it cause the Silver Bridge tragedy in Point Pleasant shortly after people saw him and spoke of him?
The Point Pleasant Silver Bridge Tragedy?
Just over a year after the first Mothman sighting on December 15th, 1967, traffic was extremely bad on the Silver Bridge. This bridge connected Point Pleasant, West Virginia to Gallipolis, Ohio. It was built in 1928 when cars were a lot lighter than they were in 1967. The bridge’s engineers hadn’t dreamed of this strain and hadn’t been cautious when creating it. A lot was learned from this bridge which featured redundancy meaning if one part failed then they had nothing in place prevent the other parts from failing also. That’s exactly what happened on the 15th.
A single eyebar near the top of the bridge on the Ohio side of the bridge cracked without any warning. The chain snapped causing the equilibrium of the bridge to be off. The bridge fell to pieces along with cars and pedestrians plunging into the cold waters of the Ohio River. Forty-six people died that day from either drowning or being crushed by the wreckage.
Since two bizarre things had happened in Point Pleasant so close together that brought in the national media. It didn’t take people long to connect the two incidents. Many were saying that the Mothman was warning people about the bridge collapse or that he caused it. Personally, I think this is sad. People died that day. And others are blaming it on a creature they think they or other people in town “saw.” A creature? No, it was human beings with a bad bridge design plan. Luckily it didn’t take long for Congress to investigate and pass the National Bridge Inspection Standards in 1968.
No One Can Forget the Mothman
In 1970, Gray Barker re-introduced the Mothman to anyone who didn’t know mor had forgotten about him. Then John Keel wrote his book and in 1975 published The Mothman Prophecies. He combined the real life Silver Bridge disaster with the Mothman sightings then added UFO activity to it to have a best selling book. This started the pilgrimages to Point Pleasant, West Virginia from conspiracy theorists, ufologists and paranormal fans. The town was now iconic in these circles.
The Mothman Prophecies was adapted into a 2002 movie by the same name starring Richard Gere. This again brought Point Pleasant and the Mothman back into everyone’s thoughts. In the film, a reporter played by Richard Gere has a wife that sees the Mothman right before her death. Several years later, he finds himself in Point Pleasant with no clue how he got there. However, he’s not the only one not being able to explain himself. Several locals start experiencing premonitions of distant disasters which starts the talk of visitations from the Mothman.
The movie was a supernatural horror and mystery love/hate movie. There wasn’t a lot of people in between after seeing it. Many critics praised it while believers were upset that it offered no conclusions. It did popularized the image of the Mothman being a harbinger of doom.
Harbinger of Doom?
Some believers in the Mothman think he has predicted many disasters around the world with his visits. Russian ufologists claimed that the Mothman sightings in Moscow foreshadowed that 1999 Russian apartment bombings. Others have been the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, the Mexican swine flu outbreak in 2009 and the 2011 nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan. I’m waiting for someone to blame Covid-19 and all its variations on him.
Sightings and Festivals
Most of the sightings have declined since the late 1960’s, but in 2016, a man who had just moved to Point Pleasant spotted a mysterious creature jumping from tree to tree. Now he claimed to the reporters and residents that he didn’t know about the legend of the Mothman. He quickly found out if he truly didn’t as numerous visitors came to investigate.
In Point Pleasant, there is a historical museum that collects all information, accounts and programs about the Mothman. They have erected a 12-foot-tall chrome-polished statue of him with massive steel wings and ruby red eyes. Plus they have a festival commemorating the Mothman visits. It is a celebration every September that attracts tourists and media for one of the strangest local stories around because people can’t figure it out the mystery of the Mothman.
What Do I Think?
Not much. Like I said I’m from West Virginia and grew up about 30–45 minutes from Point Pleasant, but this legend or story never even reached me. I never saw the Mothman, but also never even heard about him. However, since I started watching different paranormal TV shows or events then I have heard a LOT about him. There are many visitors or fans that come to Point Pleasant to check it out. Do I believe things go bump in the night? Sure, I’ve heard them. Usually they can be explained. I think there are a lot of explanations out there including the sand crane which just may be it.
However, if there is a Mothman…I want him to be like Spiderman. He was created from a science experiment. The World War II site that may have held toxic materials leaked into the ecosystem that turned a man into part bird with glowing red eyes. Does he tell the future and warn us? Yes. If we don’t get our acts straight and quit putting our science experiment anywhere and everywhere then we may get more like him. Just my thoughts.