The story of the Mothman was brought to the public’s attention through Paranormal researcher John A Keels book The Mothman Prophecies. The book was made into a film in 2002 starring Richard Gere and Laura Linney. The movie focused mainly on the Mothman creature itself and disregarded many other unexplained phenomena such as UFO sightings and the appearances of Men in Black associated with the Mothman experience.
The word "Mothman" was an invention by an Ohio newspaper copy editor which he borrowed from a character in Batman comics. Quite contrary to what most observers described the Mothman as, i.e. “A winged man-sized creature with large reflective red eyes set into its chest with no head.”
The Mothman was first reported in the Charleston and Point Pleasant areas of West Virginia between November 1966 and December 1967. The creature was sporadically reported to be seen before and after those dates, with some sightings as recent as 2007.
On November 15 1966, two young married couples from Point Pleasant, Roger and Linda Scarberry and Steve and Mary Mallette, were on a late night drive in the Scarberrys' car. They were passing the West Virginia Ordnance Works, an abandoned World War II TNT factory, about seven miles north of Point Pleasant, in the 2500 acre (10 km²) McClintic Wildlife Station, when they noticed two red lights in the shadows by an old generator plant near the factory gate. They stopped the car, and were startled to discover that the lights were actually the glowing red eyes of a large animal, "shaped like a man, but bigger, maybe six and a half or seven feet tall, with big wings folded against its back," according to Roger Scarberry. Terrified, they drove toward Route 62, where the creature chased them.
Going down the exit road, they saw the creature standing on a nearby ridge. It spread its wings and flew alongside their car to the city limits. They drove to the Mason County courthouse to alert Deputy Millard Halstead, who later said "I've known these kids all their lives. They'd never been in any trouble and they were really scared that night. I took them seriously." He followed Roger Scarberry's car back to the TNT factory, but found no sign of the strange creature.
The following night, on November 16, several armed townspeople combed the area around the TNT plant for signs of Mothman. Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Wamsley and Mrs. Marcella Bennett with baby daughter Teena in tow were in a car en route to visit friends, Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Thomas, who lived in a bungalow among the "igloos" (concrete dome-shaped dynamite storage structures erected during WWII) near the TNT plant. The igloos were now empty, some owned by the county, some by companies intending to use them for storage. They were headed back to their car when a figure appeared behind their parked car. Mrs. Bennett said it seemed like it had been lying down, slowly rising up from the ground, large and gray, with glowing red eyes. While Wamsley phoned the police, the creature walked onto the porch and peered in at them through the window.
On November 24, four people saw the creature flying over the TNT area. On the morning of November 25, Thomas Ury, who was driving along Route 62, just north of the TNT, claimed to have seen the creature standing in a field, and then spread its wings and flew alongside his car as he sped toward the Point Pleasant sheriff's office.
On November 26, Mrs Ruth Foster of Charleston, West Virginia reportedly saw Mothman standing on her front lawn, but the creature was gone by the time her brother-in-law went out to look. On the morning of November 27, it apparently pursued a young woman near Mason, West Virginia, and was reported again in St. Albans the same night, by two children.
A Mothman sighting was again reported on January 11, 1967, and several other times that same year. Fewer sightings of the Mothman were reported after the collapse of the Silver Bridge, when 46 people died. The Silver Bridge, so named for its aluminum paint, was an eyebar chain suspension bridge that connected the cities of Point Pleasant, West Virginia and Gallipolis, Ohio over the Ohio River. It was built in 1928 and collapsed on December 15, 1967; investigation of the wreckage pointed to the failure of a single eye-bar in a suspension chain due to a small manufacturing flaw.
A logical explanation?
A professor theorized that these sightings had nothing to do with a Mothman, but rather a bird -- the sandhill crane -- that reaches a height of 6 feet and has a wingspan of 10 feet. Adamant in finding a scientific explanation for this ordeal, federal authorities have often picked up on this supposition.
A Cyrptozoological Creature or Ultraterrestrial being?
The Mothman has recently become included in the study of Cryptozoology mainly due to the work of Loren Coleman although John Keel never believed that the Mothman was a zoological in nature. He claimed that Mothman was an Ultraterrestrial being, a being which can somehow manipulate the circuits of the human mind.
He claims that many other anomalous creatures and objects such as UFOs are also Ultraterrestrial in origin and these appearances are simply a “cover” for the real phenomenon. He also claims that these beings are commonly present at serious disasters.
Omen or Guardian Angel?
One example was the appearance of a Mothman type creature in Russia around the time of the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. Referred to as the Black Bird of Chernobyl the events surrounding the disaster paralleled the Point Pleasant experience with the Mothman.
More recently rumors of sightings of a bird like creature in New York on 9/11 along with a picture of a large flying creature resembling the Mothman are circulating the internet. (See our Multimedia centre for picture)
The Mothman also appeared in a woman's dreams to warn her that her plane was going to disappear in the Bermuda triangle in 1983.
In 1978 Mothman scared off German workers, keeping them from entering a mine that collapsed moments later.
John Keel claims in The Mothman Prophecies that he received many strange phone calls during his time in Point Pleasant, strange beeps, weird languages and electronic noises were heard. And sometimes he would talk to a being which called itself Indrid Cold. This being could tell Keel things about him and locations of personal possessions etc that no other human being could possibly know. During one of these bizarre phone calls a voice on the other end of the line warned Keel of a disaster on the Ohio River. Keel believes that the voice was referring to the eventual collapse of The Silver Bridge.
If sightings of The Mothman at places of imminent disasters are true what is the role of the Mothman? Is he an observer, a guardian angel who is trying to warn us, or are these beings the cause of the disasters? Keel claims that the human mind is incapable of perceiving let alone understanding the motives of these beings. And likens the relationship between humans and Ultraterrestrials to animals and their human captors. i.e. An anmimal has no understanding or comprehension of what is happening to them.
A Mothman Festival is conducted each year at Point Pleasant commemorating the appearance of the creature in that area. There is even a full size metal sculpture designed by local sculptor Robert Roach which is a popular tourist attraction.