Mothman was the name given to a strange creature reported in the Charleston and Point Pleasant areas of West Virginia between November 1966 and December 1967. The creature was sporadically reported to be seen before and after those dates, with some sightings as recent as 2005.
Most observers describe the Mothman as a winged man-sized creature with large reflective red eyes. A number of hypotheses have been presented to explain eyewitness accounts, ranging from misidentification and coincidence to paranormal phenomena and conspiracy theories.
The Mothman, whose name was inspired by the Batman villain "Killer Moth", was reportedly first sighted on November 12, 1966. A group of five men were preparing a grave in a cemetery near Clendenin, West Virginia when they reportedly saw a "brown human shape with wings" soaring from behind trees and flying over their heads. The sighting was not made public until later, and the first sighting reported in the media occurred three days later.
On November 15, two young married couples from Point Pleasant, Roger and Linda Scarberry and Steve and Mary Mallette, were on a late night drive in the Scarberrys' car. They were passing a World War II TNT factory about seven miles outside of Point Pleasant, in the 2500 acre (10 km²) McClintic Wildlife Station, when they noticed two red lights in the shadows by an old generator plant near the the factory gate. They stopped the car, and were startled to discover that the lights were actually the glowing red eyes of a large animal, "shaped like a man, but bigger, maybe six and a half or seven feet tall, with big wings folded against its back," according to Roger Scarberry. Terrified, they drove toward Route 62. Going down the exit road, they saw the creature standing on a nearby ridge. It spread its wings and flew alongside their car to the city limits. They drove to the Mason County courthouse to alert Deputy Millard Halstead, who later said "I've known these kids all their lives. They'd never been in any trouble and they were really scared that night. I took them seriously." He followed Roger Scarberry's car back to the TNT factory, but found no sign of the strange creature. According to the book Alien Animals, by Janet and Colin Bord, a poltergeist attack on the Scarberry home occurred later that night, during which the creature was seen several times.
The following night, on November 16, several armed townspeople combed the area around the TNT plant for signs of Mothman. Mr and Mrs Raymond Wamsley and Mrs Marcella Bennett with baby daughter Teena in tow were in a car enroute to visit friends, Mr and Mrs Ralph Thomas, who lived in a bungalow among the "igloos" (concrete dome-shaped dynamite storage structures erected during WWII) near the TNT plant. The igloos were now empty, some owned by the county, some by companies intending to use them for storage. They were headed back to their car when a figure appeared behind their parked car. Mrs Bennett said it seemed like it had been lying down, slowly rising up from the ground, large and gray, with glowing red eyes. While Wamsley phoned the police, the creature walked onto the porch and peered in at them through the window.
On November 24, four people saw the creature flying over the TNT area. On the morning of November 25, Thomas Ury, who was driving along Route 62, just north of the TNT, claimed to have seen the creature standing in a field, and then spread its wings and flew alongside his car as he sped toward the Point Pleasant sheriff's office.
On November 26, Mrs Ruth Foster of Charleston, West Virginia reportedly saw Mothman standing on her front lawn, which was gone by the time her brother-in-law went out to look. On the morning of November 27, it apparently pursued a young woman near Mason, West Virginia, and was reported again in St. Albans the same night, by two children.
A Mothman sighting was again reported on January 11, 1967, and several other times that same year. Fewer sightings of the Mothman were reported after the collapse of the Silver Bridge, when 46 people died. The Silver Bridge, so named for its aluminum paint, was an eyebar chain suspension bridge that connected the cities of Point Pleasant, West Virginia and Gallipolis, Ohio over the Ohio River. It was built in 1928 and collapsed on December 15, 1967; investigation of the wreckage pointed to the failure of a single eye-bar in a suspension chain due to a small manufacturing flaw.
Reports of Mothman sightings persist to this day. Instances of "strange flying creatures" and "winged men" have been reported in many American states as well as throughout Europe, Asia and the Middle East. There were supposed sightings in Chernobyl, Ukraine in 1986, shortly before the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.
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