Mothman The Harbinger of Doom

Posted by junketseo in Alexandria Ghost Tours
Mothman The Harbinger of Doom - Photo

On November 16, 1966, an article appeared in the Point Pleasant Register titled “Couples See Man-Sized Bird … Creature … Something.”

The national press soon picked up the reports, and the story spread like wildfire across America. Journalists descended on Point Pleasant, West Virginia, and soon, more and more sightings of that elusive “something” started popping up. 

Mothman Sightings

The sightings progressed. On November 12, 1966, five workers who were digging a tomb at a graveyard near Clendenin, West Virginia, alleged to have observed a man-like shape fly low from the trees right over their heads—a “brown human being” with wings. The gravediggers dismissed the whole event as a trick of the light or just their deadly nerves playing tricks on them, so they didn’t report it until the story hit the press.

“If I had seen it while by myself, I wouldn’t have said anything, but there were four of us who saw it.”

A rendering of the Mothman, standing tall with red eyes and large wingspan.
Copyright US Ghost Adventures

On November 15, 1966, two budding couples from Point Pleasant, Roger and Linda Scarberry and Steve and Mary Mallette, experienced the terror that, decades later, would grace the big screen.

The twosomes told police they observed a large grey creature whose eyes “glowed red” come out of nowhere just as their car’s headlights veered into a corner. 

The creature, they said, was able to fly at impossible speeds, as much as 100 miles per hour. The being chased their car to the outskirts of town and then scurried into a nearby track of green-land and disappeared. It vanished in a part of the town known as the “TNT Area,” the site of a former World War II munition plant. 

Described as a “large flying man with ten-foot wings,” it was incredibly cunning and particularly interested in their vehicle.  

Throughout the following days, other people described sightings of Mothman. 

Two volunteer firemen saw it: “large bird with red eyes.” 

Mason County Sheriff George Johnson noted that he thought the sightings were due to an oddly big heron he termed a “shitepoke.” 

The Gettysburg Times announced eight extra sightings in three days following the first claims.

Meanwhile, everyone was coming up with a theory. Wildlife biologist Dr. Robert L. Smith informed reporters that sightings all fit the sandhill crane. The crane is a large American bird with a seven-foot wingspan and circles of red coloring around the eyes. Point Pleasant, Smith told the press, wasn’t part of the crane’s migration route. 


The Silver Bridge Collapse


For over a month, people continued to see the Mothman. Additionally, a series of unexplained occurrences started to plague the city of Point Pleasant. Strange lights were seen circling the area. People continuously complained that their TV sets were acting wonky and that there was a constant buzzing in the air. Animals would bark at nothing, and most were afraid to go out at night. Stange men in black overcoats roamed the street.

All the weird shenanigans stopped on December 15, 1967, when the Silver Bridge collapsed. The Silver Bridge was a suspension bridge constructed in 1928 and named after the color of its aluminum paint. The relatively solid platform carried U.S. Route 35 over the Ohio River and joined Point Pleasant, West Virginia, and Gallipolis, Ohio. 

On that fateful December evening, the Bridge crumbled under the weight of rush-hour traffic. The disaster resulted in 46 recorded deaths. Two of the victims were never recovered.

Examination of the debris signaled that the cause of the collapse was the failure of a single eyebar in a suspension chain. The analysis revealed that the bridge was moving much heavier payloads than it had originally been planned for. The crumpled bridge was replaced by the Silver Memorial Bridge, which was completed two years later.

And Mothman? He vanished, never to be seen again in the area. 


The Mothman Prophecies


The Mothman was presented to a broader public by Gray Barker in 1970. And five years later, it was popularized by John Keel in his now-famous book The Mothman Prophecies

The title describes Keel’s chronicles of his research into alleged sightings of Mothman in the vicinity of Point Pleasant, West Virginia. 

It connects these stories and reports with his arguments about UFOs and numerous otherworldly events that occurred during that month in Point Pleasent. Keel was one of the first to bring forth the theory that the Mothman might be a harbinger of doom or even a watcher and recorder of these events. 

One of his hypotheses claims that the Point Pleasant inhabitants experienced some collective precognition. He suggests that they somehow manifested omes that signaled the collapse of the Silver Bridge, unidentified flying object sightings, visits from inhuman or threatening men in black, and other phenomena.

Folks have often speculated that Mothman might be an alien, a transdimensional being, an angel—sent by God to warn humanity—a ghost, or even a skinwalker. 

The 2002 film The Mothman Prophecies, starring Richard Gere, was based on Keel’s book. The film is loosely based on the book and takes a couple of liberties; nonetheless, over time, it has garnered a cult following. Since its premiere, the film has once more sparked interest in the Mothman phenomenon and increased the area’s tourism trade. 

Some ufologists, paranormal authors, and cryptozoologists are certain that Mothman was either an alien, a spectral manifestation, or a previously unknown animal species. They firmly believe that Mothman was a harbinger or an observer and that beings of its kind have plagued mankind since the dawn of time. 

Because of its popularity, an annual festival in Point Pleasant is dedicated to the Mothman legend. 

In June of 2020, a petition was drafted to replace all Confederate statues in the United States with representations of Mothman. As of July 2020, the appeal has amassed over 2,000 signatures. Maybe in a month or a year, I’ll have to update this article and put an addendum. “The South is full of Mothman statues, half the United States is scratching its head and asking, ‘what the?'”