On November 12th 1966, a small town in West Virginia became home to the Mothman legend – one of modern mythology’s most powerful and mysterious stories. Who or what this creature is or was can only be guessed, but proof of its existence is beyond any reasonable doubt.
A local gravedigger working in a cemetery spotted something strange on that day on the 12th of November 1966.
He glanced up from his work when something huge soared over his head, a massive figure that was moving rapidly across the cemetery from tree to tree. He would later describe the figure as a “brown human being.”
This was the first reported sighting of what would come to be known as the Mothman, an elusive creature that remains as mystery to this day.
It was the 15th of November, just three days from the first sighting; when Roger Scarberry had just been driving down a road past the McClintic Wildlife Management Area when one of the passengers in his car spotted something unusual. Scarberry and his passengers – his wife Linda Scarberry, friends Steve and Mary Mallette, and their cousin, Lonnie Button – were familiar with the area, as were many of the young people from the nearby towns.
Scarberry and his passengers stopped the car in front of the factory gate. Like the other youths in town, they hung out regularly in the area and noticed that something was unusual. A pair of glowing red lights had appeared near the gate. As they looked upon them, the lights moved toward them, and they realized that these were not lights at all, but a pair of glowing red eyes attached to a dark figure.
The creature stood nearly 7 feet tall with huge wings folded behind its back. Without hesitation, Scarberry hit the gas and fled the area as fast as he could. According to everyone in the car, the creature immediately took flight and followed the car down the road, keeping up with ease. Even as Scarberry pushed the car past 100 miles per hour, the glowing red eyes stayed just behind them.
Finally, Scarberry reached the Mason County courthouse and the creature flew off into the darkness.
Deputy Millard Halstead could tell that this was no hoax. “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 would later say. Even in separate rooms, every witness told the exact same story, and the terror in their eyes told the Deputy that something had definitely happened to these people.
The very next night, a young woman named Marcella Bennett was visiting her friends, the Thomas family. As she approached her car, parked just outside the house, a large grey human-like creature with giant wings and glowing red eyes rose up from the ground nearby. Bennett was so terrified that she literally dropped her infant daughter Teena to the ground and fell on top of her. For minutes Bennett lay paralyzed in fear, staring into the hypnotic red eyes of the creature. She would later tell others that she was aware of what was happening but was quite literally unable to move her body.
Finally, Bennett broke free of her paralysis, grabbed her daughter, and ran into the house. As they called the police, Bennett, along with the other witnesses in the house said that the Mothman walked up onto their porch and peered curiously through the windows. By the time the police arrived, it was gone.
More and more sightings were reported in the Point Pleasant area over the next year as the legend of the Mothman took shape.
The Gettysburg Times reported eight additional sightings in the short span of three days following the first claims, including two volunteer firefighters who supposedly saw what they described as “a very large bird with large red eyes.”
One sighting, reported by Salem, West Virginia, resident Newell Partridge, told of strange patterns that appeared on his television screen one evening, followed by a mysterious sound just outside of his home.
Shining a flashlight toward the direction of the noise, Partridge supposedly witnessed two red eyes resembling bicycle reflectors looking back at him.
Over time, sketch artists were able to compile drawings of what the creature looked like. In every case, the intense red eyes were what captured everyone’s attention. In fact, even after dozens of descriptions, just about every detail of the Mothman could be identified, except for one. Nobody seemed to know what its face looked like. One after another, every witness described being so drawn into the creatures eyes that not one of them could recall the surrounding face.
Even more strange, everyone who had witnessed this creature take off in flight described the same strange phenomenon. It seems that though the Mothman would spread his enormous wings before ascending into the air, he never flapped them, like any bird would do. Instead, with wings extended, he seemed to simply rise effortlessly into the air, like a balloon.
What makes this story even more bizarre is at the time of the sightings, there were simultaneously several sightings of Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs) in the same area. Several witnesses of either the Mothman or UFOs reported being visited by strange men in all black suits, hats, and sunglasses, who would threaten them to keep quiet about what they had witnessed. Were these government agents who already knew what these sightings were, or were these emissaries from the Mothman’s world trying to keep things quiet?
Some locals believed that the Mothman was a prophetic creature, a herald of unknown tragedies to come.
On December 15, 1967, just over a year after the first Mothman sighting, traffic was especially bad. The Silver Bridge, built in 1928 to connect Point Pleasant, West Virginia, to Gallipolis, Ohio, was packed with cars from end to end. The Silver Bridge collapsed. The chain snapped, and the bridge, its careful equilibrium disturbed, fell to pieces, plunging cars and pedestrians into the icy water of the Ohio river below. 46 people died, they drowned or were crushed to death in the wreckage. Some witnesses claimed to have seen the Mothman on the bridge that same day.
A true tragedy for the small town, many wondered if the Mothman had been there to warn them of the disaster, though others wondered if the Mothman was part of a curse put on the town by an old Native American chieftain who had been famously murdered two hundred years earlier.
In 1975, author John Keel conflated the Mothman sightings and the bridge disaster, as well as reported UFO activity, to create his book The Mothman Prophecies. Which was later used as a basis for the Movie, The Mothman Prophecies (2002). His story and the movie took hold, and the town became an icon among conspiracy theorists, UFOlogists, and fans of the paranormal.
The idea that visitations from the Mothman predicted disaster, led some believers to make ties to the Chernobyl disaster of 1986, the Mexican swine flu outbreak of 2009, and the 2011 nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan, among others.
A festival commemorating the Mothman’s visits has taken place annually for years
The Mothman can still be seen in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, today, in the form of a historical Mothman museum, open seven days a week, and also as a 12 foot tall chrome-polished statue, complete with massive steel wings and red eyes. You can view the MOTHCAM and see the statue on Live Stream 24/7.
If you’re traveling through West Virginia, keep an eye in the sky. You never know what you might see.
Do you believe in the Mothman? Let us know in the comments below.