On November 12, 1966, in Clendenin, West Virginia, a group of gravediggers working in a cemetery spotted something strange.
They glanced up from their work as something huge soared over their heads. It was a massive figure that was moving rapidly from tree to tree. The gravediggers would later describe this figure as a “brown human being.”
This was the first reported sighting of what would come to be known as the Mothman, an elusive creature that remains as mysterious as it was on the night that a few frightened witnesses first laid eyes on it.
The Legend Of The Mothman In Point Pleasant, West Virginia
Just three days after the gravediggers’ initial report, in nearby Point Pleasant, West Virginia, two couples noticed a white-winged creature about six or seven feet tall standing in front of the car that they were all sitting in.
Eyewitnesses Roger Scarberry and Steve Mallett told the local paper, The Point Pleasant Register, that the beast had bright red eyes about six inches apart, a wingspan of 10 feet, and the apparent urge to avoid the bright headlights of the car.
According to the witnesses, this creature was able to fly at incredible speeds — perhaps as fast as 100 miles per hour. All of them agreed that the beast was a clumsy runner on the ground.
They knew this only because it allegedly chased their vehicle to the outskirts of town in the air, then scuttled into a nearby field and disappeared.
Knowing how absurd this must have sounded to a local paper in a small, Appalachian community in the 1960s, Scarberry insisted that the apparition couldn’t have been a figment of his imagination.
He assured the paper, “If I had seen it while by myself, I wouldn’t have said anything, but there were four of us who saw it.”
The Infamous Silver Bridge Collapse
On December 15, 1967, just over a year after the first Mothman sighting, traffic was bad on the Silver Bridge. Originally built in 1928 to connect Point Pleasant, West Virginia, to Gallipolis, Ohio, the bridge was packed with cars.
This placed a strain on the bridge, which had been built in a time when cars were lighter. The Model T had weighed just 1,500 pounds — a modest sum compared to the 1967 average for a car: 4,000 pounds.
The bridge’s engineers hadn’t been particularly imaginative, nor had they been especially cautious, while creating this structure. The bridge’s design featured very little redundancy, meaning that if one part failed, there was almost nothing in place to prevent other parts from failing as well.
And on that cold December day, that was exactly what happened.
Without warning, a single eyebar near the top of the bridge on the Ohio side cracked. The chain snapped, and the bridge, its careful equilibrium disturbed, fell to pieces, plunging cars and pedestrians into the icy water of the Ohio River below.
Forty-six people died, either by drowning or being crushed by the wreckage.
Following the Mothman sightings, the bridge collapse was the second terrible and bizarre thing to put Point Pleasant on the map in a year’s time. So it didn’t take long for some to connect the two.
In 1975, author John Keel conflated the Mothman sightings and the bridge disaster while creating his book The Mothman Prophecies. He also incorporated UFO activity. His story took hold, and the town soon became iconic among conspiracy theorists, ufologists, and fans of the paranormal.
The Legend Continues To Grow
Since those initial sightings. There have been multiple sightings around the world. Sightings that typically come before a major disaster. Or so the story goes.
If you’d like a more in depth analysis of the various legends and stories surrounding the Mothman. Watch this video