On the banks of the Ohio river, on the opposite bank from the state of Ohio, sits a sleepy little town called Point Pleasant, West Virginia. Point Pleasant is, as its name suggests, quite pleasant. Nowadays the town boasts such attractions as Sternwheel river cruises, the annual Mason County Fair and the Battle Days Festival . It is THE ONLY place that you can get a Mothman Frappuccino, which is something I did not know I wanted until just now, but now that I do, I want one desperately.
There is also a ten foot tall, shiny silver statue of Mothman AND the Mothman Museum and Research Center.
The appearance of Mothman in the 1960s definitely put this town on the map for modern map readers and lovers of the supernatural alike. Spawning books and movies, the legend of Mothman is an interesting vignette in the history of a small border town of little consequence to the outside world.
Or is it really just a legend that took place for two years in the late 60’s?
A little bit of delving into the history of Point Pleasant and the area surrounding it has uncovered some unsettling facts about this particular area and its violent and deadly history.
While now Point Pleasant is a peaceful little community which no doubt gains much from its Mothman legend, it was not always quite so peaceful here.
The legend itself is simple and well known - that a giant grey creature like an oversized winged man appeared in Point Pleasant, terrorized the community for a short period of time and then disappeared after the Silver Bridge, which connected Point Pleasant West Virginia collapsed in 1967.
Was Mothman a warning, a harbinger of doom to a small community? Was he a demon or an angel or an alien? And most importantly, is there any danger of him coming back?
15 Point Pleasant And The Cornstalk Curse
In the 1770s, the early American settlers were pushing their way into this wild area on the banks of the Ohio river. While the Native Americans from the area thought of the specific location of Point Pleasant, sitting on the confluence of the Ohio and the Kanawha Rivers as haunted, it was not an area they wanted to give up without a fight.
Seven Nations of the Native Americans: The Shawnee, Delaware, Wyandot, Mingo, Miami, Ottawa and Illinois peoples came together to defend this patch of what is now West Virginia from the white settlers and the casualties of war were great on both sides.
Chief Cornstalk of the Shawnee made peace with the settlers but, despite this, he was taken hostage by the army and executed when unrelated Native Americans killed soldiers on a hunting party. As he lay dying, legend has it that he cursed the lands around him to get revenge on the ‘friends’ who had betrayed and killed him
14 Shadows Of The Curse: The Monongah Mine Disaster
In 1907, 60 years before the Silver Bridge Disaster what is known as the worst mining disaster in American History occurred at Monongah, West Virginia, near Point Pleasant.
362 people died when a fire caused an explosion in the mine. What is even more heart-wrenching is that at the time it was customary for miners to take their children into the mine with them as unpaid help on their shift, so many of those among the 362 recorded dead were young children.
Was this horrific disaster caused by Chief Cornstalk’s dying curse? While it is true that there are mining disasters occurring everywhere that there are mines, the Monongah mine disaster was a particularly grim disaster due to the deaths of children in the mines.
Who would ever have thought that this was not the last time that tragedy on a large scale would stalk this particular area?
13 Grave Diggers First See Mothman
Grave digging can’t be a particularly enjoyable profession, and one might think that digging a grave or graves would lead to some rather maudlin or unhappy thoughts in the course of doing such grim work.
No one really knows what it was that five grave diggers, hard at work in Clendenin, West Virginia were thinking when they became the first people to see the creature who was later to be known as Mothman.
On November 12, 1966 the grave diggers claimed that they saw a ‘brown human being’ fly over them from some trees near the graveyard. They said that it was too large to be a bird.
No one took their sighting too seriously. Why would they? A giant brown human flying over the trees? It’s simply absurd.
No doubt the grave diggers suffered their fair share of teasing from the townspeople who must have thought they had been drinking on the job at the very least – it was the sixties after all!
But soon the population of Point Pleasant would be singing a very different tune.
12 Mothman Is As Fast As A Car… And Hard To Shake
On the 16th of November 1966, two married couples, Steve and Mary Mallette and Roger and Linda Scarberry were driving late at night near the McClintie Wildlife reserve, heading to an abandoned industrial area known locally as the TNT Area on a joyride.
Near the abandoned North Power Plant they saw a giant, 7 foot winged man-creature with glowing red eyes and a 10 foot wingspan. Understandably, the terrified couples took off in their car.
The bizare cryptid seemed uncomfortable walking on its feet, but once it shot up into the air it became faster and seemed to fly away. Relieved, they turned a corner only to be confronted with the creature sitting on a hill, waiting for them.
This time it kept pace with them, as the car hurtled along at up to 120 miles an hour, flying low over the top of them. They could hear its wings banging on the car roof, and allegedly it did some damage to the car’s paintwork.
11 The Police Took The Mothman Seriously
When Steve and Mary Mallette and Rodger and Linda Scarberry arrived at Point Pleasant after being chased by the monster, the local police separated the teenagers and found that their stories all matched. Knowing that they were ‘good kids’ who weren’t known to make drama, the police went back out to the TNT area with them. The police saw unexplainable shadows and puffs of dust; their radios were distorted by weird static.
The next day the police held a press conference and ‘Mothman’ was born and named after the Batman character.
The Mallettes and the Scarberrys, who couldn’t leave things alone, went back to where they saw Mothman and found strange tracks in the dirt and thought they saw something in an old boiler. Then they took off again.
Linda Scarberry said later that she and Rodger saw Mothman many times after that event, and she eventually decided he was not malevolent, just frightening to look at. She thought that he wanted to communicate with her but was not able to do so.
10 Mothman's Only Victim Was A Dog
Merle Partridge, who has also been called Newell Partridge as an alias (which is a really odd alias, Newell.) was a contractor who lived in Salem, West Virginia, about 100 miles from Point Pleasant.
Sometime around the 11th of November, 1966, Mr Partridge was sitting at home on his rural property, minding his own business and watching TV when his TV reception went haywire. His dog, outside, started howling. Mr Partridge grabbed his shotgun and went outside. He saw red eyes in the distance and the dog ran off after them and disappeared.
In the light of the following day the worried man looked for his dog, and tracked his paw prints up until they just disappeared. The dog was never seen again, although two couples named Mallette and Scarberry who had sighted and been chased by Mothman also claimed to see a dead dog lying by the road.
The dead dog later disappeared.
9 Mothman Attempted A Home Invasion
On the 16th of October 1966, Marcella Bennett, her toddler, Tina, and her brother and sister-in-law were off visiting relatives near the TNT Area where Mothman seems to have centered his activity.
Arriving at the relative’s house, the party discovered that the relatives they wanted to see were not home, so they headed back outside.
As Marcella unlocked the car and saw a feathered, grey man standing right near her. Shocked to the core, Marcella stood staring at the creature, while her brother screamed at her to run. Finally she turned and fell on her daughter, pulled herself up, picked up her child and ran into the house. The whole family hid behind locked doors, desperately telephoning for the police. The creature came onto the porch and pushed at the door to get in, looking in windows and shuffling around.
It was gone by the time the police arrived.
8 Shadows Of The Curse: The Silver Bridge Collapse
One cold December evening in 1967, just at the time of the evening that people were crossing from West Virginia to Ohio to go Christmas shopping, and from Ohio to West Virginia to go home, a crack in one of the links of the chain that held up the whole Silver Bridge gave way. Immediately the whole bridge shuddered into the Ohio river, dumping 75 vehicles into the cold black water and killing 46 people. Rescue efforts were hard due to the darkness and conditions, and the authorities initially stood helplessly as they listened to the cries of the drowning trapped among the debris and wrecked cars, obscured by floating wreckage.
The sudden collapse of the bridge was due to a purely mechanical reason - the supports that held the road up failed. However after the bridge collapsed the Mothman creature was gone.
7 First Mothman, Then Men In Black.
Mary Hyre was a reporter who worked at the Point Pleasant office of the Athens Messenger newspaper. She was by all accounts a respectable and down to earth sort of woman, not given to flights of fancy and trained by years of being a reporter to be observant and rational.
Mary had been involved in reporting on Mothman and had been the recipient of more than 500 telephone calls reporting sightings of the monster, UFOs and other strange phenomena in the two years in which he was active, before the bridge collapse.
In January 1967 a strange little man came into Mary’s office after hours and started asking questions, first about lights in the sky, and then asking for directions. He was very short and wearing thick ‘coke bottle’ glasses. He had a peculiarly unfashionable haircut and spoke oddly.
As he talked, the little man moved closer and closer to Mary and she began to feel a sense of panic. She called in a co-worker and he took a pen from her desk, stared at it, unexpectedly laughed and abruptly ran out.
He visited many homes in the community that night, passing himself off as a reporter. Mary saw him around town a few more times in the following weeks but he always drove off.
Mary Hyre died in 1970.
6 The Curse Continues
Point Pleasant did not become a safe and happy place straight away after the Silver Bridge Collapse. Instead it continued to be rocked by tragedy.
In 1976 a teenager called Harriet Sisk killed her infant daughter Devi. While in the Mason County Jail her husband Bruce forced his way in to her with a sawn off shotgun. Once inside, he blew up the building with a bag of dynamite, killing not only himself and his wife but three law enforcement officers, wounding eleven more.
Then in 1978 the Pleasants Power Station at Willow Island, near to Pleasant Point became the setting of the Willow Island Disaster. 51 construction workers were killed when scaffolding was knocked by falling concrete, causing the whole construction site to plummet to the ground below.
That is a lot of disasters for a small area for a short amount of time.
5 Who (Or What) Is Mothman?
If you have ever been on the internet you will know that even more so than advertising, the internet is full of opinions.
It has been suggested that Mothman was a barn owl or a crane. He was also suggested to be an angel or a demon.
Perhaps Mothman was a mutant? That was another theory that saw Mothman as some bird/human mutant hybrid that crawled out of the tunnels and abandoned buildings in the TNT Area. Sounds like someone has been watching a few too many superhero TV shows to me!
There was also conjecture that the whole story was just a hoax. A writer called Gray Barker wrote a lot about the Mothman in 1970 and he was known for ‘planting’ hoax evidence to build stories up for his own personal gain.
Perhaps the whole thing was just an exaggerated owl sighting.
4 Mothman Is Us?
One of the most interesting theorists about UFO and monsters and paranormal beings was the supernatural writer John Keel, who wrote a bestselling book on Mothman called ‘The Mothman Prophesies’. This book was the inspiration for a movie released in 2002, starring Richard Gere.
John Keel was a lifelong paranormal researcher and writer who became increasingly unsettled and paranoid due to his obsession with the supernatural.
John Keel tried to find a theory that explained all paranormal phenomena, from the messages he received from psychics to his own experiences with Men In Black. He did not believe in extra-terrestrials or angels or religion. He did not believe that the dead communicated with us as ghosts. He believed in parallel universes that intersect with ours and a whole ‘superspectrum’ of information that we can’t comprehend and continually misinterpret.
So the Mothman was us, staring back at us, through the mists of our own interpretation.
I’ll buy it. Why not?
3 Where Mothman Goes, Tragedy Follows
Witnesses and writers have theorized that Mothman is a harbinger of doom, an omen that something disastrous is going to happen.
Mothman-like beings have been reported as far away as Freiburg in Germany before a mine collapse.
The Blackbird of Chernobyl was a creature that was seen around the Chernobyl power plant before the nuclear meltdown. It was also seen by clean up workers in the plant before they died of radiation poisoning, and its description matched that of Mothman.
Mothman was also allegedly photographed in New York City on 9/11 and seen in Minnesota before the 1-35W Mississippi River Bridge collapse in 2007, although many have debunked these sightings as hoaxes.
The mothman like creature that was seen in Freiburg actually prevented miners from going into the mine shortly before its collapse. Is it a benevolent creature that wants to protect us?
Is it coming back?
2 Mothman Came Back For His Anniversary
In November 2016, almost exactly 50 years after his first appearance in Point Pleasant, Mothman may well have popped back to Point Pleasant to say hello.
A man whose identity has not been revealed to the public took some grainy photos of something that looks like a man with wings flying about above the trees. I do not understand why people these days take such bad photos, do you not have a smart phone? Srsly.
Anyway the photos were passed onto the local news station WCHS and aired so that everyone could have a look.
The man who took them claimed that he did not know of the legend as he had only just moved to the area, which I for one find hard to believe because there is a GIANT SILVER STATUE OF MOTHMAN ON THE MAIN STREET OF THE TOWN.
1 Was Mothman Sighted In Arizona?
In January of 2017 Richard Christianson, a resident of Phoenix, Arizona claims that he took a photo of a Mothman-like creature on a quiet night-time Arizona street.
Richard posted the picture on his Facebook page and it was immediately shared and liked thousands of times, going viral within days.
Even though the picture was quickly removed, it sparked off a lot of online debate. Was it an angel? A demon? Was it a tree?
Interestingly, Richard Christianson is a stage hand, so there was also conjecture that the image was a hoax photograph of a borrowed stage prop that had been set up in the street and photographed as a joke that got very out of hand.
Or is Mothman again, back to warn us of something coming…