In West Virginia folklore, the Mothman is a creature reportedly seen in the Point Pleasant area from November 12, 1966, to December 15, 1967. The first newspaper report was published in the Point Pleasant Register dated November 16, 1966, titled “Couples See Man-Sized Bird … Creature … Something”. The national press soon picked up the reports and helped spread the story across the United States.
The Silver Bridge was a suspension bridge built in 1928 and named for the color of its aluminum paint. The bridge carried U.S. Route 35 over the Ohio River, connecting Point Pleasant, West Virginia, and Gallipolis, Ohio.
On December 15, 1967, the Silver Bridge collapsed under the weight of rush-hour traffic, resulting in the deaths of 46 people. Two of the victims were never found. Investigation of the wreckage pointed to the cause of the collapse being the failure of a single eyebar in a suspension chain, due to a small defect 0.1 inches (2.5 mm) deep. Analysis showed that the bridge was carrying much heavier loads than it had originally been designed for and had been poorly maintained.
The collapsed bridge was replaced by the Silver Memorial Bridge, which was completed in 1969.
The Mothman appears in popular culture. The 2002 film The Mothman Prophecies, was based on Keel’s book. The following is a Point Pleasant Register article from Wednesday, November 16th 1966 titled “Couples See Man-Sized Bird…Creature…Something”.
“It was a bird…or something. It definitely wasn’t a flying saucer.”
Two Point Pleasant couples said today they encountered a man-sized, bird-like creature in the TNT area about midnight last night.
Sheriff’s deputies and City Police went to the scene about 2 o’clock this morning but were unable to spot anything.
But the two young men telling their story this morning were dead serious, and asserted they hadn’t been drinking.
Steve Mallette of 3305 Jackson Avenue and Roger Scarberry of 809 30th Street described the thing as being about six or seven feet tall, having a wing span of 10 feet and red eyes about two inches in diameter and six inches apart.
“It was like a man with wings,” Mallette said. “It wasn’t like anything you’d see on TV or in a monster movie..”
The men and their wives were in Scarberry’s car between 11:30 p.m. and midnight when they spotted the creature near the old power plant adjacent to the old National Guard Armory buildings.
The creature was seen standing on three occasions and was described as being extremely fast (“It flew about 100 miles an hour”) in flight but was a clumsey runner.
Deputy Millard Halstead said he had seen dust in the vicinity of a coal field. But “It could have been” caused by the bird, he said.
“I’m a hard guy to scare” Scarberry said, “but last night I was for getting out of there.”
They did just that but the “thing” followed them. They said it was hovering over the car, apparently gliding, until they reached the national Guard Armory on Route 62.
“We went downtown, turned around, and went back and there it was again,” Mallette said. “It seemed to be waiting on us”. He said the light-grey-creature then scurried through a field, It also had flown across the top of the car.
“It apparently is afraid of light,” Mallette reasoned, “and maybe it thought it was scaring us off.”
The young men said they saw the creature’s eyes, which glowed red, only when their lights shined on it. And it seemed to want to get away from the lights.
They said it looked like a “man with wings” but that its head was “not an outstanding characteristic.”
Both were slightly pale and tired from lack of sleep during the night following their harrowing experience. They speculated that the thing was living in the vacant power plant, possibly in one of the huge boilers. “There are pigeons in all the other buildings,” Mallette said, “but not in that one.”
“If I had seen it while by myself I wouldn’t have said anything,” Scarberry commented, “but there were four of us who saw it.”
They said it didn’t resemble a bat in any way but “maybe what you would visualize as an angel.”
The last time they saw it was at the gate of the C. C. Lewis farm on Route 62.
They heard a sound like wings flapping and they said the bird rose straight up, like a helicopter.
“This doesn’t have an explanation to it,” Mallette said, “It was an animal but nothing like I’ve seen before.”
Are they going back to look for the creature?
“Yes,” Mallette said, “this afternoon and again tonight.”
“Today,” Scarberry said, “but tonight, I don’t know!”
Location: Braxton & Webster Counties West Virginia
Tunnels to: Unknown
Notes: The area bordered by Newville on the west, Helvetia on the east, Cleveland on the north and Hacker Valley on the south [Braxton & Webster counties] contain many subsurface anomalies according to the late husband of British Canadian Joan Howard, an abductee whose husband did survey work in the area.
He told of strange caverns in the area with strange sounds of voices and machinery emerging from within as if beyond the walls, caves containing strange hieroglyphic writings, a pipe that stands out of the ground FAR from any industrial area which ejects a gas flame upwards, a cavern with a deep chasm near the entrance who vanished.
Two more men saw a cavernous labyrinth deep within the earth, many abandoned with strange laboratory equipment, containers that were half-buried marked hazardous, and cages for birds.