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.
The annual Mothman Festival takes place every September in Point Pleasant, WV with guest speakers, film screenings, hayrides, tours, vendors, music and Mothman-shaped food.
The 2020 Mothman Festival has been cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns, but will return to celebrate it’s 20th year on Sept. 18-19, 2021.
The 12-foot-tall stainless steel Mothman statue is located in downtown Point Pleasant, West Virginia beside the Mothman Museum. It was sculpted by artist Bob Roach in 2002. The inscription on the plaque reads:
Legend of the Mothman
On a chilly, fall night in November 1966, two young couples drove into the TNT area north of Point Pleasant, West Virginia, when they realized they were not alone.
What they saw that night has evolved into one of the great mysteries of all time; hence the Mothman Legacy began. It has grown into a phenomenon known all over the world by millions of curious people asking questions: What really happened? What did these people see? Has it been seen since?
It still sparks the world’s curiosity – the mystery behind Point Pleasant, West Virginia’s MOTHMAN.
Artist and Sculptor
New Haven, West Virginia
In 2020, a petition was launched by Garrett Milnes to replace statues of Robert E. Lee and other Confederates around the country with Mothman statues.
“The Confederate Statues should not represent our country,” the petition states. “The Robert E. Lee statue is already being removed. Why not fill that space with a statue of Mothman? Mothman is the first urban legend to denounce racism and oppression. Mothman is the perfect candidate to replace Robert E. Lee and any other Confederate Statues. ”
In 2016, 50 years after the first Mothman sighting, a Point Pleasant man believed he snapped a new photo of a flying creature that may signal the return of Mothman to the area. Did he capture the notorious harbinger of doom, or is it a bird carry a snake for dinner?
There are stories claiming a large black bird matching descriptions of Mothman was seen at the flying over the reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant on April 26, 1986 – the day the reactor exploded. A large flying creature shaped like a human with wings, no head, and red eyes is said to have been seen by several of the men who worked in the control room at Chernobyl. As word spread about the sighting, more plant workers confessed to having seen the winged creature around Chernobyl and the nearby city of Pripyat. Those who saw it suffered nightmares and received threatening phone calls.