In 13 months, from November, 1966 until December, 1967, the people of Point Pleasant appeared to be under siege, from a bizarre creature that has come to be known as, The Mothman.
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What is generally considered to be the first encounter with the Mothman occurred on November 12, 1966 in Clendenin, West Virginia. Five men were working at a local cemetery, digging a new grave. They heard something rustling in the surrounding trees.
They then saw what they described as a big brown, winged man. The thing spread its wings and launched itself into the sky, flying over there heads. The Mothman had arrived in West Virginia, but this first encounter is far from the most dramatic.
November 15, 1966. Local contractor, Newell Partridge is at his home in Salem, WV watching TV, it is about 10:30 pm. Suddenly Partridges screen goes dark, then what he described as strange patterns appear. At the same time Partridge hears a loud whining sound.
He said ” it sounded like a generator winding up “. Partridges dog Bandit, a German Shepard, begins to bark and pace. After grabbing a flashlight Partridge, with Bandit leading the way, went outside to investigate.
Bandit ran straight towards the hay barn, located about 500 feet from the house. Partridge shined his flashlight towards the barn and saw two large red glowing eyes, ” Like bicycle reflectors “.
Partridge then went back into his house to get his gun, but once inside he became too scared to go back out. He was so upset by the encounter that he did not notice that Bandit was not with him.
It seems that November 15th was a busy day for the Mothman. Shortly after the Partridge sighting the Mothman was seen again, this time in Point Pleasant. Two young couples, Rodger and Linda Scarberry and Steve and Mary Mallette, were driving past an area known to the locals as the TNT area or just TNT.
The area is home to an old WWII munitions factory, now long abandoned. As they drove by they saw something strange standing by one of the doors of the closed factory.
They said the creature had two large red eyes but generally looked like a very large man, except for those wings, large bird-like wings that were folded up against its back. After glimpsing the Mothman the couples sped off at a high rate of speed.
For a few minutes the couples thought they had left the Mothman behind. Then as they rounded a corner there it was again, the same bizarre beast, now perched on a hillside, and staring straight at them.
Rodger Scarberry was driving the car and accelerated to what he said was over 100 miles per hour, headed for downtown Point Pleasant. But the Mothman followed, seeming to have no difficulty keeping up with the speeding car. As they neared the city the Mothman backed off, disappearing into the night. The now frantic couples went straight to the Sheriff’s office.
The Scarberrys and Mallettes spoke with Deputy Sheriff Millard Halstead. In a small town like Point Pleasant everyone knows everyone else, and Deputy Halstead had known the four witnesses for all of lives, and as strange as their story was, he could tell that there was something very wrong.
After listening to the four tell their story Halstead and the two couples went to the TNT area to investigate but found no evidence of the Mothman.
Word of the Mothman would travel fast, so it was decided that a press conference would be held to reassure the citizens of Point Pleasant that they were safe. This may have been a bad decision, but the press conference was held on November 16th, the day after the Scarberry, Mallette report.
After the four witnesses gave their accounts of their encounter with the 7 ft tall, red-eyed, bird winged Mothman, the people of Point Pleasant were assured that everything was ok and there was nothing to fear. The citizens were apparently were not convinced. That night a large group of armed men went to the TNT area in search of the Mothman. They found nothing.
The incredible story of the Mothman began to spread, not only locally but nationally and eventually worldwide. The story ran locally in the Point Pleasant Register as well as other newspapers in the area, and was read with great interest by Newell Partridge, the man who had seen the Mothman on the same evening as the Scarberrys and Malletts.
As he read, Partridge got some very bad news. Mary Mallette had said at the press conference that as they were racing towards Point Pleasant, trying to escape the Mothman, she noticed something lying on the side of the road which she believed to be a large dog.
When they went past the same spot on their way back out-of-town just minutes later, it was gone. Partridges beloved dog Bandit was never seen again.
Following the November 15th sightings, reports of encounters with the Mothman poured in. Author/Investigator John Keel traveled to Point Pleasant soon after the first reports. In all he would interview more than 100 witnesses.
But as the year went on the reports tailed off and some believed, or hoped, that the Mothman, whatever it was, had gone. Keel left Point Pleasant but soon began to receive strange phone calls from someone who said their name was Indrid Cold.
Colds message to Keel was a simple one although vague, Do Not Return To Point Pleasant Because Something Very Bad Is Going To Happen.
As 1967 neared its end the Mothman returned. The creature was reportedly seen underneath the Silver Bridge, which connected West Virginia to Ohio, over the Ohio River. Another witness claimed to have seen the Mothman gliding above the bridge.
Then at 5:00 pm on December 15, 1967, the loaded bridge collapsed, crumbling into the Ohio River. 46 people were killed. An investigation of the Silver Bridge collapse was carried out, and the cause of the disaster was determined to be an overloaded bridge that had been poorly maintained.
Strangely, reports of encounters with the Mothman ended. Some believe that there is a connection between the appearance of the bizarre Mothman, and the collapse of the Silver Bridge, this may or may not be the case. The claim is not so much that the Mothman was responsible for the bridge failure, but rather that the Mothman was a harbinger of death and disaster.
Today in Point Pleasant you will find Mothman Park, complete with an impressive 12-foot tall stainless steel statue of the Mothman and an annual Mothman festival.