When one hears the name Mothman, you might assume this is another comic book hero, but, according to the residents of Point Pleasant in West Virginia, it was a very real phenomenon.
Starting in November of 1966, residents of a small town of Point Pleasant, on the banks of the Ohio River, reported seeing what they described as a six-foot tall beast, covered in hair or feathers with a wingspan of six to ten feet and bright, glowing red eyes.
It wasn’t just one or two claimed sightings from sketchy people who liked to cause trouble, but area residents including National Guardsmen, firemen, and college educated teachers.
People from that area of the country who live in small towns and work the land tend to be down-to-earth folk who would normally laugh off stories of monsters. But with over one hundred sightings, the reports were hard to ignore.
In November, the beast was seen in the treetops by a group of National Guardsmen at a nearby armory. A group of grave diggers in Clendenin, West Virginia, about 80 miles from Point Pleasant, saw a human size bird with an extensive wing span fly over the cemetery where they were working.
Salem, West Virginia resident, Merle Partridge, reported that he and his wife were watching TV one evening when the TV went crazy, making strange noises, and then blew up.
Partridge went out onto his porch and his dog took off into the field — where he saw the glowing red eyes. Partridge called and called, but his dog never came back. Two young couples, Roger and Linda Scarberry and Steve and Mary Mallette, were driving past an old munitions plant the locals called TNT when they spotted a large winged creature on the side of the road.
The being decided to follow the car, which, by now, was traveling about 100 miles an hour along a straight stretch of highway on Route 62, trying to escape. The red eyed creature stayed with the vehicle until they reached the town when it took off through a field.
The report to the Mason County Sheriff caught the attention of local reporter Mary Hyre, who wrote about the sightings. Later in November, resident Bob Bosworth and a friend were out riding their motorcycles and spotted glowing red spots on top of the north power plant at TNT, so they stopped to investigate.
There was a bright, full moon that night which allowed them to partially see inside the building where they encountered a very tall creature with red eyes. Frozen in fear, they watched the thing move toward them and then turn away into the darkness.
The men reported hearing the flap of wings, and the monster was gone. Another local, Faye Dewitt Leport, reported that she and her siblings were out riding around in a car when her brother, who was driving, turned toward her with wide eyes.
She turned to look and there was the creature just outside the window, keeping up with the car. Her brother made a quick turn, but the red eyes were still there. When he stopped the car, the creature jumped onto the hood and then flew off toward the north tower.
Lawrence Gray, a local teacher, woke up about three in the morning to find the very same creature standing next to his bed, and then it disappeared. He later reported that he felt the presence of “100 percent evil.”
With her reports on the creature, Mary Hyre began to receive hundreds of phone calls regarding the creature as well as reports of paranormal activity, electrical problems that seemed to come and go quickly, and strange lights in the sky.
There was a large increase in the number of UFO sightings during the time as well. In 1967, Hyre’s articles caught the attention of journalist and parapsychologist John Alva Keel who came to Point Pleasant to investigate.
It was he who coined the term “Men in Black,” referring to strange men who appeared in Point Pleasant in January of 1967 in neat black suits, black ties and hats, meeting with people and admonishing them to stop repeating the stories about the Mothman.
Reportedly, they also threatened Hyre. In 1975, Keel published the book The Mothman Prophecies, which was a big hit and later adapted as a movie with the same name.
Ten days before Christmas in 1967, a chain suspension bridge that crossed the Ohio River from Point Pleasant to Gallipolis, Ohio crashed into the river at rush hour with no warning, killing 46 people.
Coming at the time when Mothman sightings were going on, the bridge collapse became intertwined with stories of the Mothman. Some claimed seeing him on the bridge just before the collapse, but regardless, one story cannot be read without the two facts being mentioned together.
The town of Point Pleasant has taken advantage of the notoriety placed upon them in 1966 and 1967. There is a Mothman museum run by local businessman Jeff Wamsley, with newspaper articles documenting the unexplained activity, police reports, written eyewitness accounts, memorabilia from John Keel, and anything found or donated regarding the Mothman.
Read another story from us: The ‘Dogman’ of Michigan: A Legend with More Sightings than Bigfoot
There are also clippings and stories from the bridge collapse. A Mothman festival is also held in September of each year.