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The Mothman

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Mothman was the name given to a strange creature thought to have been sighted many times in the Point Pleasant area of West Virginia, on the border with Ohio between November 1966 and November 1967. Some observers described the creature as a man-sized beast with wings and large reflective red eyes, while others claimed that the creature possessed luminous eyes. A number of hypotheses have been put forward to explain what people reported, ranging from paranormal phenomena to owls, but no definitive explanation has ever been reached.

The Mothman was first sighted November 12, 1966 by a group of five men who were preparing a grave in a cemetery close to Clendenin, West Virginia when what they described as a “brown human shape with wings” lifted off from behind nearby trees and flew over their heads.

Late at night on November 15, two young married couples from Point Pleasant, Roger and Linda Scarberry and Steve and Mary Mallette, were out for a drive in the Scarberrys’ car. They were passing a World War II TNT factory about seven miles outside of Point Pleasant, in the 2,500 acre  McClintic Wildlife Station, when they noticed two red lights in the shadow by an old generator plant near the gate of the factory. They stopped the car and were startled to see that the lights were the glowing red eyes of a large animal, “shaped like a man, but bigger, maybe six and a half or seven feet tall, with big wings folded against its back,” according to Roger Scarberry. Terrified, the couples drove off in their car, heading for Route 62. Going down the exit road, they saw the creature again, standing on a ridge near the road. It spread its wings and took off, following their car to the city limits. They went to the Mason County courthouse and told their story to Deputy Millard Halstead, who later said “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 followed Roger Scarberry’s car back to the TNT factory, but found no sign of the strange creature.

The next night, November 16, local townspeople, armed, went searching the area around the old TNT plant for signs of Mothman. Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Wamsley and Mrs. Marcella Bennett with her baby daughter Teena were in a car on their way to visit their friends, Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Thomas, who lived in a bungalow among the “igloos” (concrete dome-shaped structures erected for explosives storage during WWII) close to the TNT plant. The igloos were now empty, some owned by the county, some by companies intending to use them for storage. They were headed back to their car when a figure appeared behind their parked car. Mrs. Bennett said it seemed like it had been lying down, slowly rising up from the ground, large and gray, with glowing red eyes. While Wamsley phoned the police, the creature walked onto the porch and peered in through the window at them.

On November 24, four people saw it flying through the air over the TNT area. On the morning of November 25, Thomas Ury, who was driving along Route 62 north of the TNT, who said he saw the creature standing in a field by the road, then spread its wings and take off, following his car as he sped into Point Pleasant to report it to the sheriff.

On November 26, Mrs. Ruth Foster of the Charleston, West Virginia suburb of St. Albans saw Mothman standing on her front lawn, but it was gone when her brother-in-law went out to look. On the morning of November 27, it pursued a young woman near Mason, West Virginia, and was reported again in St. Albans the same night, by two children.

The Mothman was seen again January 11, 1967, and several times during 1967.

By this time, most of the sightings had come to an end and Mothman had faded away into the strange “twilight zone” from which he had come… but the story of Point Pleasant had not yet ended. At around 5:00 in the evening on December 15, 1967, the 700-foot bridge linking Point Pleasant to Ohio suddenly collapsed while filled with rush hour traffic. Dozens of vehicles plunged into the dark waters of the Ohio River and 46 people were killed. Two of those were never found and the other 44 are buried together in the town cemetery of Gallipolis, Ohio.

On that same tragic night, the James Lilley family (who still lived near the TNT plant at that time) counted more than 12 eerie lights that flashed above their home and vanished into the forest.

The collapse of the Silver Bridge made headlines all over the country and Mary Hyre went days without sleep as reporters and television crews from everywhere descended on the town. The local citizens were stunned with horror and disbelief and the tragedy is still being felt today.

So who was Mothman and what was behind the strange events in Point Pleasant?  Some believe the sightings where the result of mass hysteria, overactive imaginations, and large birds.  Others see the Mothman as a harbinger… the omen of a horrible tragedy.  Supposedly, Mothman has been seen in other parts of the world before a disaster.

One things for sure.  If you’re ever out somewhere and see a large brown man with wings and glowing red eyes… perhaps you should move!

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