Several times throughout 1966 and 1967 a strange winged creature struck terror into the hearts of residents in a small town in Mason County. Point Pleasant, West Virginia became the alleged nesting spot for a terrifying creature that was to be known as the Mothman. The events that unfolded in this small town remained with the witnesses for all of their living days. Fringe Paranormal went to Point Pleasant for the annual Mothman festival to learn more about the strange happenings all those years ago that continue to fascinate and chill residents up to the present day.
Perhaps the best way to acquaint the reader with the Mothman is to reprint several original newspaper articles describing the bizarre events that took place many years ago. The following articles are reprinted from the Point Place Register.
Nov. 16, 1966 – ‘It wasn’t like anything you’d see on TV…’
An eyewitness account of Mothman’s first sighting
“It was a bird…or something. It definitely wasn’t a flying saucer.”
Two Point Pleasant couples said 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 deadly serious and asserted they hadn’t been drinking.
Steve Mallette of 305 Jackson Ave. and Roger Scarberry of 809 30th St. 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 clumsy 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 getting out of there.”
They did just that, but the “thing” followed them. They said it was hovering over their 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-gray-like creature then scurried through a field. It had also 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 of 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 coming back to look for the creature?
“Yes,” Mallette said. This afternoon and again tonight.”
“Today,” Scarberry said, “but tonight, I don’t know.”
Nov. 21, 1966- Early opinions split over what ‘bird’ really was
Calls, letters and rumors continue to plague the Mason County Sheriff’s Office from persons offering information on the so-called “bird” that was spotted in Mason County last Tuesday night.
However, the original four persons who reported their experience to Deputy Sheriff Millard Halstead are not convinced that the creature is a bird.
Dr. Robert Smith of the West Virginia University biology department said the description fits that of a sandhill crane, but Mr. and Mrs. Roger Scarberry contend that the creature they saw around midnight Tuesday had the shape more like that of a man, but had a wide wing spread and red eyes.
Meanwhile, Halstead said four other persons said they saw the creature Saturday night on Camp Conley Road, about one mile back from the main highway on state route 62.
Four youths – Billy Burdette, 16; Darrell Love, 18; Johnny Love, 14; and John Morrow, 14, all of Point Pleasant Route 2 – described it as having red eyes and said when they got close to it, it flew off.
Hundreds of sightseers have toured the TNT area since the report by local news media Wednesday, but during the weekend traffic tapered off after some authorities labeled it as a sand hill crane.
Halstead said today he had received two letters from persons across the country who were offering information in an attempt to identify it.
A Silver Springs, Md., resident, Henry J. Frey, said he had read the account in the Washington Daily News. Frey said he is “an authority on many subjects,” and has concluded from the description that it is a great blue heron. He said these birds belong to a family of wandering birds.
Halstead received another letter from Donald Birchfields, who lives in Altoona, Pa., and had picked it up in a local paper. He is of the opinion that it is a sand hill crane. It was also reported the sand hill crane has a bigger population than 30, as reported earlier.
Nov. 25, 1966 – Mothman makes first apparent daytime appearance
Mason County’s famous “bird” is apparently still with us and has made its appearance in the daytime for the first time.
Tom Ury, a Clarksburg resident, told the sheriff’s office he had an experience with the “bird” this morning at 7:15 a.m. as he traveled north on Route 62.
Ury, an assistant manager of the Kinney Store at Clarksburg, was en route back to the northern city after spending Thanksgiving here with relatives when he encountered the “bird”.
“I know people think you’re crazy when you tell of seeing something like this,” Ury said. “but I’ve never had such an experience. I was scared.”
In giving an account to the Register, the frightened young man said as he went up the road he spotted a flying object that seemed to come from the woods on his right.
After his description of the area, it was determined it came from the area back of the Homer Smith residence.
“It came up like a helicopter and then veered over my car. It began going around in circles about two or three telephone poles high and kept staying over my car,” he added.
While his first thought was that of fear, Ury noted, “I tried to get away and was going 70 miles an hour, but it kept up with me easily.”
He stated that it kept soaring over his vehicle until he got to Kirkland Memorial Gardens and then it made its way to the left and over the river.
Apparently still shook up, Ury said, “I have a convertible and at first felt it was going to come through the top, but after it stayed in the air at about the same height, I didn’t feel it would attack.”
Nov. 28, 1966 – ’Bird’ story in mason County prompts worldwide attention
Mason County’s “bird” story has made its way into newspapers all across the land and just last week turned up in the Army’s official publication of the Stars and Stripes.
In the Nov. 19 Pacific edition, a two column headline, “Red-Eyed Creature Reported in W. Va.,” drew the attention of many servicemen in Vietnam.
Among those was a regular Army man from Point Pleasant, Sgt. 1st cl-E 7 Morton A. Jackson.
He mailed the front page of the paper to his mother, Mrs. Roy Jackson and his sister, Mrs. Millard Halstead, both of Point Pleasant.
The sergeant, who is a brother-in-law to Deputy Sheriff Millard Halstead, had not received any information concerning this when he spotted the release in the Army’s paper.
However, Mrs. Jackson of 2319 Jefferson Ave., said they since had mailed clippings of circumstances surrounding it to her son.
Sgt. Jackson mailed his letter home from Vietnam Nov. 21 and it was received here Friday morning.
At the same time, Lt. Col. William L. Latta Jr. in Vietnam sent two articles from Star and Stripes about “the bird,” with the note: “Even Point Pleasant gets in the news in the Pacific.”
The clippings were received here by Col. Latta’s wife, Pauline Stephenson Latta of Columbus, Ohio, and were forwarded to the Register.
The Register has received requests for newspapers containing “bird” articles from various places, including Arkansas.
These incidents would change Point Pleasant for years to come. The city still has its small town flavor and yet it continues to draw visitors from around the world who seek to learn more about the elusive creature dubbed the Mothman. Fringe Paranormal traveled from its Toledo, Ohio headquarters to this West Virginia location just across the border. On tap, the eighth annual Mothman Festival.
Crossing over the main bridge, one may think that they are entering a run of the mill small town. Once you enter and start to explore the area you may find there is much more than meets the eye. The bridge into town feeds onto Main street where you are greeted by a sign welcoming you to Point Pleasant. The weather was warm and sunny for this weekend’s Mothman Festival held in the downtown area. Parking was surprisingly sufficient in spite of the large number of people attending the event. Vendor booths lined the streets with vendors hawking souvenirs and paranormal groups greeting attendees and promoting books and videos. “Men in black” and “Ghostbusters” were spotted roaming among the crowd. The food court offered plenty of appetizing selections. Mothman pancakes anyone? Walking toward the river, one had the option of taking in the “Miss Mothman” pageant. Eighty two contestants vied for the title of Miss Mothman in several age groups.
Overlooking the vendor booths and the festival goers is a large stainless steel statue of the Mothman created by local artist Bob Roach. The statue weighs between 600-1,000 pounds and took up to twelve months to complete. Moving down the street you can enter the Mothman Museum. This is the spot to go before you start to explore the area. Here you can read all the stories about the Mothman. There are many displays that illustrate just how much of an impact this phenomena had on the entire country when it first came to light. Comic books, newspapers, television, and movies (Richard Gere in the Mothman Prophesies for example) are all examples of the influence the events in Point Pleasant had on the populace. That influence lingers today. Moving further down the street one can experience the local ambiance of restaurants and stores. The
Historic State Theater played host to an array of speakers on the paranormal. Ghostly Talk Radio from Detroit, Michigan hosted the event. Speakers included James Willis (author of Weird Ohio) and Sue Swaitek (MUFON Director) as well as other authors and paranormal researchers.
Down the street from the theater is the Silver Bridge Memorial. On December 15, 1967 the Silver Bridge, which connected West Virginia and Ohio, collapsed. This disaster brought life to a standstill in the area; not only for the reason that the bridge was THE main route between West Virginia and Ohio in this area but more importantly because forty-six souls were lost that day. The memorial consists of a bronze plaque in memoriam to those who died. The plaque is set into a low concrete semi-circular wall which surrounds a brickwork space containing the names of those who perished. The collapse of the bridge was attributed to the failure of the bridge’s suspension. At the time of the incident some residents attributed the tragedy to a curse by an Indian chief from years gone by. To this day some even suggest that the sighting of the Mothman was a sort of supernatural warning of the impending disaster.
Let’s travel back to present day Point Pleasant. What has happened since the Mothman made his initial appearance? News of the event spread around the world making the sightings a phenomena which continues to enthrall people today. Some of the witnesses to the Mothman make appearances at events and at the Mothman Festival. Some witnesses refuse to speak about the incidents and still carry the fear of their encounters with them to this day. Some have speculated that the power plant which existed in the area at the time was responsible for some sort of mutation which created the man-beast. After the incidents the plant was dismantled to the point that not one brick remains. Conspiracy? Did the government do away with all traces of the plant to ensure the prevention of future mutations? Perhaps the plant was dismantled to negate any legal claims. UFOs and aliens have also been linked to the incidents by several groups; leading to the references to the men-in-black often associated with the Mothman. Hollywood has also taken the creatureunder its wings. Films include Richard Gere in the moth man Prophesies and Jeepers Creepers which features a creature very much like the Mothman. Yes, the Mothman continues to thrive today which is evidenced by the fact that right now someone is reading this. We may never find the truth behind the Mothman but investigators and every day people around the world will still try to find the answers.
For more information on the Silver Bridge collapse:
For a great site on everything mothman:
Prepared for Fringe Paranormal by Don C