The most compelling information on Mothman comes from the first documented sighting of this half-man, half-mothlike creature. Two young couples claimed to have been chased by a six to seven-foot-tall, brown-colored, humanoid creature with wings. They were able to give concise information to the investigating officers, and a media blitz about Mothman the strange winged creature followed.
Mothman Mystery Begins
The first sighting reportedly occurred on November 15, 1966 at 11:30 pm. Roger and Linda Scarberry, along with Steve and Mary Mallette, decided to drive out to a popular youth hang out, the abandoned World War II TNT factory that was seven miles outside of their hometown, Point Pleasant, West Virginia. This extensive site once housed a secret government explosive factory composed of hundreds of bermed, concrete dome warehouses connected by an underground tunnel network. From the air, these storage "igloos" blended in with the massive 2,500 acre animal preserve and bird sanctuary.
When the couples arrived, no one was there. As they started to leave, they spotted two red, glowing eyes near one of the tunnel entrances. Roger Scarberry drove the car out of the factory yard, but the creature chased them for some distance. Some Internet sites report the car raced along the dirt road at 100 MPH, but in a video-taped workshop, news reporter John Keel, noted for his 1975 book The Mothman Prophecies, (made into a movie in 2002) states that the car traveled 60 MPH.
The young people drove immediately to the police station and convinced the officers to follow them back to the site. Even though nothing was discovered to validate their story, the police believed them. When the local newspaper picked up the story, the editor named the creature Mothman after a Batman fictional character.
One very interesting aspect of this story is often overlooked. According to Janet Board's book, Alien Animals, the encounter continued once the Scarberrys returned home. She tells how Roger and Linda were attacked by what was described as a poltergeist, and that the couple saw the creature outside their home.
Media Blitz and Massive Sightings
Later, another witness named Merle Partridge came forward claiming an encounter with the creature the night before at 10:30 pm. Partridge lived in Salem, some 90 miles from Point Pleasant. He claimed to have heard a high-pitched sound. He went outside to investigate and came face to face with a two glowing, red eyes in the darkness. When the creature lifted from the ground, Partridge's dog gave chase. His dog was never found, although the couples reported seeing a dead dog alongside the road as they sped away from the factory.
The town of Point Pleasant was quickly overrun with the news media and curiosity seekers. As the days unfolded, more and more sightings were reported, but many believed those reports were the result of mass hysteria. Soon, UFO reports flooded the police station, and the townspeople lived in fear for the next 13 months.
Sighting of November 12, 1966
Unknown at the time, there was still an earlier sighting in Clenden, a nearby town, where five men dug a gravesite for a burial the next day. They described a similar creature had flown from the treetops and swooped over them.
Wamsley Home Sighting
Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Wamsley, Mrs. Marcella Bennett and her daughter, Teena along with friends, Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Thomas, had a very startling encounter. The Thomas home was located among the TNT Factory's multiple igloos. When the visitors arrived at the Thomas's home, they noticed a gray shadow with large, red eyes squatting by the Thomas car. It stood up to a frightening height. They ran into the house, and Mrs. Wamsley called the police while the creature walked up onto the porch and peered through the windows at them. The police found no evidence of the encounter.
A.B. Colvin, a Point Pleasant photojournalist, reported sightings of the Mothman in 1967 and again in 1973. He wrote a book, The Mothman's Photographer that included nearly 40 eyewitness accounts.
On December 15, 1967, the last sighting of the Mothman placed him at the town's Silver Bridge that spanned the width of the Ohio River. The bridge collapsed that evening, and 46 people lost their lives when their vehicles plunged into the icy waters below.
Worldwide Sightings of Mothman
While the sightings at Point Pleasant ceased, other reports across America and countries across the world continued. In 1986, right before the catastrophic Chernobyl nuclear disaster, the Mothman was sighted. Understandably, many people claim that sightings of the Mothman precipitate a disaster. Some claim to have seen such a creature flying near the Twin Towers on the morning of September 11, 2001. A photograph of what many believe is a bird distorted by depth of field has made the Internet rounds.
Resources for more Mothman info:
- Mothman Museum: Located at 411 Main Street in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, the museum is open during the spring and summer months.
- The Mothman Festival: Held in Point Pleasant in September, the festival is an annual weekend event of various activities, including a hayride, 5K run and a Miss Mothman Pageant.
- Mothman Bus Tour: You can take a tour of the TNT Factory and travel the same road as the Scarberrys and Malletes did in 1966.
- Newspaper: Read the actual newspaper clipping from 1966.
Just what is the Mothman and where did it come from? Some claim it was summoned from another dimension by a local warlock. Others speculate it's the manifestation of a Native American curse of revenge. Another theory states it's a large bird mutated from biochemicals that leaked from the TNT Plant, while others believe it's simply a misidentified sandhill crane.
Take a Trip to Point Pleasant
You may prefer to investigate further with a trip to the town and walk the streets and visit the old TNT Factory. If you plan your trip during the festival, you're sure to run into locals who can share their tales of Mothman.