The legendary Mothman has come to be known as a portend of doom ever since the disastrous collapse of the Silver Bridge in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, following a rash of sightings of the strange creature and other unexplained phenomena.
The first Mothman sighting happened on November 12, 1966, when two cemetery workers digging a grave saw what they described as “a brown human being” fly from some nearby trees and glide low over their heads. A few nights later four more people witnessed the creature, and had an even more harrowing encounter. While driving around the abandoned facilities of a World War II munitions plant known as the TNT area, the two couples were chased by a large creature they described to police as about six or seven feet tall, with a wingspan of 10 feet and large glowing red eyes.
It flew extremely fast, around 100 miles per hour, but seemed clumsy on its feet. “It was like a man with wings,” one of the frightened men was quoted as saying. “It wasn’t like anything you’d see on TV or in a monster movie.” They said it was not like a bat, but more like one would envision an angel, except light grey in color. They noted it seemed to be afraid of their headlights, and they thought it might have been trying to scare them off.
The headline ran in the November 16, 1966 edition of the Point Pleasant Register: “Couples See Man-Sized Bird…Creature…Something.”
That was just the beginning. For the next 13 months there were numerous similar sightings, all seemingly culminating in the collapse of the bridge on the evening of December 15, 1967, in which 46 lives were lost as rush hour traffic plunged into the freezing, black waters of the Ohio River. Mothman was not seen in the area again.
The legend was popularized by the 1975 book The Mothman Prophecies by John Keel. Point Pleasant is home to the Mothman Museum, the Mothman statue and the annual Mothman Festival, which includes music, vendors, guest speakers, bus tours of the TNT area, a Miss Mothman pageant, and more. More than 40 years later, the enigma continues to grow, as there have been numerous Mothman sightings in Chicago and around Lake Michigan.