On November 15, 1966, two terrified young couples came screaming from the forest in Point Pleasant, West Virginia.
Little did they know that their frightening encounter that night would spark an international fascination with an unnerving, supernatural creature akin to Bigfoot and the Bell Witch haunting in Tennessee.
The Mothman of West Virginia was described as a human-sized bird-like creature with red, glowing eyes.
Though the 1956 sighting of the Mothman in West Virginia sparked the initial media frenzy, there have been other notable documented sightings of the creature.
This Mothman urban legend gained international attention after the publication of John Keel’s book, The Mothman Prophecies, which was adapted into a 2002 film starring Richard Gere and Laura Linney.
The small town of Point Pleasant WV has really embraced its connection to the mythical creature.
The Mothman History
The First Mothman Sighting
On November 12, 1966, gravediggers claimed to have witnessed the Point Pleasant WV Mothman for the first time.
This was 3 days before the infamous “TNT area” sighting. It was called that because the 8,000-acre area had been home to an ammunition manufacturing facility during World War II.
At that time, explosives were stored in strategically scattered bunkers, which were disguised by a thick layer of earth.
The TNT Area Sighting
On November 15, 1966, young couples Roger & Linda Scarberry and Steve & Mary Mallette reportedly saw the eyes of the Mothman glowing red in the night.
After their encounter with the Mothman monster, the couples claimed that they sped away in their car, with the mysterious creature hot on their tails.
The 7-foot-tall, screeching monster flew after them, from the TNT area (which is about 5 miles north of Point Pleasant) all the way to the city limits.
The Mothman Bridge Collapse
On December 15, 1967, the bridge collapsed under the weight of heavy traffic and tragically killed 46 people. The Silver Memorial Bridge, completed in 1969, now stands in its place.
Witnesses reported seeing the Mothman of Point Pleasant flying above the bridge shortly before the disaster.
It is said that the West Virginia Mothman has since been spotted in relation to other disasters, both natural and human-made.
So is there any truth to rumors of a Mothman curse? Is the Mothman’s appearance a harbinger of horrors to come?
Regardless of personal opinions, these alleged sightings only fueled the fire of Mothman myths and legends.
READ MORE: The 15 Best Scary Escape Rooms in Georgia
Mothman Monster or Sandhill Crane?
As with all supernatural occurrences, myriad skeptics and experts have tried to come up with rational explanations for the mysterious Mothman sightings.
Mason County Sheriff George Johnson believed that the bird-like humanoid was actually an oversized Heron.
This large North American bird stands nearly as tall as an adult man (up to 4 feet, 6 inches), with a wingspan of up to 7 feet. It also has red flashes around its eyes, which is a common aspect of the Mothman’s description.
Though Sandhill Cranes are not native to this part of the USA, it was believed that the bird may have lost its way during its annual migration.
An unfamiliar bird of this size and stature could have understandably alarmed unsuspecting locals.
Mothman Tourist Attractions
There is an array of books, documentaries, and Hollywood movies about the Mothman of Point Pleasant WV.
But if you’ve already devoured them all and find yourself wanting more, it might be time to make a pilgrimage to the area and immerse yourself in the Mothman legend.
Read on for details on some of the area’s most popular Mothman attractions.
The Mothman Museum
400 Main Street, Point Pleasant WV • (304) 812-5211
The Mothman Museum is a must-see for anyone interested in the story, offering lots of interesting facts about the Mothman.
Exhibits include a number of authentic documents, including written accounts of Mothman sightings, press clippings, and photos of the Mothman bridge collapse.
It also houses a large collection of Mothman memorabilia from the Mothman movie, The Mothman Prophecies.
You’ll also find handwritten police reports on the various Mothman sightings, as well as purported video footage and accounts of UFO encounters.
Open every day, the museum also features a gift shop where visitors can stock up on Mothman souvenirs ranging from t-shirts and stickers to DVDs and books.
Mothman Museum hours are from 10AM-5PM Sunday to Thursday, and 10AM-6PM on Friday and Saturday. Admission is $4.95 (ages 11+) and $1.95 for children ages 10 years and under.
The Point Pleasant Mothman Statue
Located near the museum (in Mothman Park on 4th Street) in downtown Point Pleasant WV, the Mothman Statue is a hotspot for fans wanting a selfie with the supernatural creature.
Created by artist Bob Roach from New Haven WV, the statue pays homage to the famous 1966 sightings.
Sure, it’s not the “real” Mothman, but getting your photo taken next to this stainless steel depiction of the monstrous beast is the next best thing.
The Mothman Statue took a year to make, and was mounted in its permanent home on September 13, 2003. To make it even spookier, the red eyes of this 13-foot-tall statue actually glow at night!
Though some Point Pleasant residents were said to be unnerved by the statue’s haunting visage, The Mothman Prophecies author John Keel came to the unveiling.
The Mothman Festival
According to employees at the Mothman Museum, the town of Point Pleasant WV welcomes more than 10,000 visitors during its annual Mothman Festival.
Typically held on the third weekend in September, the festival sees throngs of people gathering on Main Street to celebrate all things Mothman.
Visitors can enjoy live music, buy souvenirs from various vendors, eat from a line of food trucks, partake in Mothman cosplay, and hear expert speakers.
The annual festival is primarily free, but some attractions do charge a fee. That being said, the town of Point Pleasant tries to most much of the fun free (or at least cost-effective).
Note that the Mothman Museum is especially busy during this weekend, so expect queues. This year’s festival takes place on Sept 16-17, and on Saturday there’s a 5K Mothman run that starts at 8AM.
The Siver Memorial Bridge
Before you leave town, take a moment to pay your respects to the 46 people who lost their lives during the tragic collapse of the Silver Memorial Bridge.
Built in 1968, the current bridge stands just downriver from the site of the original Silver Bridge.
You can visit a plaque mounted at the site of the Silver Bridge disaster, located at 101-199 6th St in Point Pleasant.
The Mothman in Pop Culture
There is plenty of content out there to fuel fans’ hunger for all things Mothman.
Documentaries, books, and movies have all tried to capture the Mothman legend and find the elusive answers to ever-popular questions such as, “Who is The Mothman of Point Pleasant WV?” and “Is the Mothman real?”
More 50 years after the area’s first reported sightings, the Mothman legacy continues to live on in the imagination of those who believe in unexplained supernatural phenomena.
The Mothman Prophecies Book by John Keel
John Keel’s book recounts all of the alleged sightings of the Point Pleasant Mothman back in 1966 and 1967.
Though it’s subtitled “A True Story,” the book tends to fall towards the more skeptical side of things when it comes to appreciating the Mothman as a supernatural entity.
At the same time, no other pop culture creation had done more to further the Mothman myth!
The Mothman Prophecies Movie
This 2002 movie directed by Mark Pellington propelled the Mothman back into the minds and nightmares of the public.
Starring Richard Gere and Laura Linney, the movie centers on the character John Klein, a reporter investigating the Mothman urban legend.
His investigation leads him to Point Pleasant, West Virginia, where there have been a slew of mysterious sightings.
The film is based on the actual events that took place in Point Pleasant in 1966 and 1967, as described by John Keel in his book.
The Mothman of Point Pleasant Documentary
In his 2017 documentary, The Mothman of Point Pleasant, director Seth Breedlove investigated the history, legend, and legacy of the Mothman sightings.
This Mothman documentary also shares a brief history of the town of Point Pleasant itself. -by Emma Gallagher