The state of West Virginia has had its fair share of strange, often inexplicable events, but perhaps the strangest yet is the arrival of the creature known as the Mothman, who changed the sleepy little town of Point Pleasant forever when it swooped in one cold autumn night.
Today, Mothman is one of the most well-known cryptids in the world, made famous partly by John Keel's book (later adapted to film) The Mothman Prophecies. Mothman is also hunted in Mountain Monsters on Destination America.
The first Mothman report was on November 12, 1966, near Clendenin, West Virginia. Five men were in a cemetery preparing a grave for burial when they saw something they couldn't explain. Lifting off from the nearby trees was a creature the men described as a "brown human being." The men held to the fact that what lifted off beyond the trees was no bird, it was a humanoid. This would be the first of many sightings.
It was later sighted in many places in Virginia and West Virginia, but the largest number of sightings happened in or near a place known as the "TNT Area," an abandoned munitions plant dating from World War II that is near Point Pleasant, West Virginia. The TNT Area is mostly forest, dotted with numerous grassy clearings and concrete domes. It is also riddled with abandoned tunnels, most of which have collapsed, been sealed off, or became flooded with water. A wildlife sanctuary adjoins the TNT Area.
It was here in the TNT Area on a cold night, 3 days after the first sighting, that a young couple would encounter this bizarre creature. Driving by the area, they noticed, unbelievably, two large, glowing red eyes in the darkness. They soon learned these eyes belonged to something that looked frankly human, about 7 feet tall with white fur and wings folded against its back. The true horror began, however, when the creature spread its wings and pursued them down the road to the Point Pleasant city limits.
This creature would be seen throughout the next few days, and it was estimated that there were over 100 sightings within a year, though these are unidentifiable reports and the actual number may be quite lower.
Many similar cryptids and creatures have been seen worldwide. The sightings are similar to Mothman is many ways, including the fact that most of them seem to be heralds of impending disasters. Some of the places Mothman or its fellows have visited include a mine in Freiburg, Germany, where a Mothman like creature scared miners away shortly before a collapse. Another notable visit was to the nuclear plant at Chernobyl, where a creature haunted the facilities for a while before the famous nuclear meltdown. Two not so popular incidents with Mothman were 9/11 and the Minnesota bridge collapse. There were two pictures taken on 9/11 and there were multiple sightings before the bridge collapse.
Some believe that the Mothman tries to warn people about disasters about to happen. Such as the Freiburg and Chernobyl sightings listed above. However the sightings at Chernobyl never actually happened, and this rumor was started on the internet. Since there only seems to be one Mothman instead of a bunch of his kind, and since he seems rather paranormal, these sightings are not of much interest to cryptozoologists. Cryptozoologists want to discover new kinds of creatures, not hunt for ghosts and spooks. Those who have looked into the problem have suggested sandhill cranes, Thunderbirds, or some variety of unknown bird or giant bat or a genetic thing.
Mothman is usually described as a bipedal, winged humanoid. It's coloration varies from gray to brown to even white. It is reported to be about 7 feet tall, with a wingspan of about 10 feet or more, plus over 300 mph of speed. No head has ever been reported. Instead, two huge red eyes are set in the chest. These eyes are reported to be glowing, or at least reflective. The details of his face (if it has one) and his feet have never been adequately described. Only one witness ever saw the face clearly, and she could only say that the details were horrible and monstrous. She had terrible nightmares and nearly suffered a nervous breakdown. Anyone who gets a close look at
Mothman seems to suffer from extreme fear and psychological distress, sometimes lasting for months or years afterwards, all out of proportion to how scared they ought to be. In particular, people say that a sense of pure evil overcomes them when they see Mothman's eyes.
Mothman is perhaps six or seven feet tall when standing. He can fold his wings and walk with a weird shuffle that many witnesses compare to a penguin. When he flies, he unfolds his wings and shoots straight up with great speed, then levels out to go wherever he wants to go. He has never been observed flapping his wings, not even on take-off. He just holds then straight and stiff. He can fly much faster than any bird should be able to fly, as measured by those victims who suffered from what seems to be Mothman's favorite activity: chasing cars. He'll fly in front of them and even sometimes try to rip off the roof, and go inside. But his wings don't make it easy, because he doesn't have palms and fingers like humans do.
Mothman sightings have been associated with at least two other cryptids. Gigantic Thunderbirds with gray bodies and red heads were sighted in the same area at the same time by a few witnesses. There was also a bizarre hairy humanoid of the type that researchers call "big hairy monsters" or "hairy bipeds." This big hairy monster was quite weird because it was headless. The only footprints that have ever been associated with Mothman sightings are very bizarre, consisting of footprints that are unmistakably those of a dog mixed with a few classic Bigfoot footprints. However, these dog footprints have two abnormal characteristics. They are far too big for any known dog, and are pressed into the soil so deeply that they suggest the animal must have weighed several thousand pounds. So far, nobody has claimed to see the giant dog that is suggested by these footprints. Since nobody has seen Mothman's feet, they may be his footprints because a creature of that size can weigh a lot.
Scientists believe the Mothman may have been a large heron, or a sandhill crane, but the Mothman sightings might just be too extraordinary to attribute them to such animals.
Two legends from Shawnee Indian lore mention creatures closely resembling Mothman, deemed Misignwa and Waupee respectively. In the legend of Misgnwa, description of Mothman is indeed similar to Bigfoot by ceremonial dress used during the Bread Dance. The Waupee legend is also similar in that it's part of Shawnee lore, and that a family of Indians chose to become white hawks living in the forests near Point Pleasant.
Some believe the Mothman may be the product of a blood cure placed upon the town by Chief Cornstalk, who was murdered along with his son by the West Virginia "white men." Similarly, the curse theory is one very attached to the collapse of the Silver Gate Bridge.
Mothman Festival Edit
The Mothman Festival is an annual commemoration of the visit of the cryptid known as the Mothman. It is held
on the third weekend of every September in Downtown Point Pleasant, West Virginia.
The festival features a wide variety of vendors, guest speakers, live music, food and events for all-ages. People from all over the world come to experience the unique atmosphere and learn more about the Mothman.