For thirteen month the entire town of Point Pleasant, West Virginia was gripped by a dark terror that culminated in a tragedy that made headlines all over the world. This is a story that contains all the elements of a modern science fiction movie but every single word is true.
Homes throughout the little towns were plagued with unearthly noises and ghostly manifestations while mysterious aerial lights traveled silently overhead seemingly on a regular schedule. Winged monsters and frightening apparitions terrified the population as automobiles stalled and telephones and TV sets ran amok. A Red Cross Bloodmobile filled with fresh blood was pursued along a darkened highway by a weird flying machine. Domestic animals were found slaughtered and mutilated in pastoral farm fields. Innocent people lived in surrealistic horror, haunted by the fearsome demonic "Bird" and besieged by legions of strange beings (some of which arrived in ordinary-looking automobiles).
-- John A. Keel, The Mothman Prophesies
As recorded in John Keel's seminal book The Mothman Prophecies, The Mothman sightings began to be reported in 1966. The red-eyed winged creature was dubbed "Mothman" by a newspaper reported, since the "Batman" TV series was at the height of its popularity. Sightings continued and fervor escalated over the following months, coinciding with a bewildering array of strange activity - including precognition, odd prophecies, UFO sightings and encounters with bizarre "Men in Black." It's one of the most puzzling and fascinating periods on record of paranormal activity focused in one geographic area. The creature itself has never been explained, although skeptics laughably suggested that it was a mis-sighting of a sand crane.
The Mothman is a creature reportedly seen in the Charleston and Point Pleasant areas of West Virginia from November 12, 1966, to December 1967.Most observers describe the Mothman as a winged man-sized creature with large reflective red eyes and large moth-like wings. The creature was sometimes reported as having no head, with its eyes set into its chest. A number of hypotheses have been presented to explain eyewitness accounts, ranging from misidentification and coincidence, to paranormal phenomena and conspiracy theories.
- November 15, 1966
However, as quoted in Keel's The Mothman Prophecies, the Scarberrys, despite driving more than 100 miles per hour, claimed to have noticed a dead dog on the side of the road, and in fact made such accurate note of its location that they claimed to have gone back the very next day and looked for it. Explanations for how they were able to make so accurate a mental note at a time of such great distress, or why they would go back to look for the dead dog, are not included in Keel's book. A plaque on the Mothman statue provides a version of the original legend: "On a chilly, fall night in November 1966, two young couples drove into the TNT area north of Point Pleasant, West Virginia, when they realized they were not alone." Driving down the exit road, they saw the supposed creature standing on a nearby ridge. It spread its wings and flew alongside the vehicle up 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 then followed Roger Scarberry's car back to the secret ex-U.S. Federal bomb and missile factory, but found no trace 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.
November 16, 1966
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 her infant daughter Teena in tow, were in a car en-route to visit their friends, Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Thomas, who lived in a bungalow among the igloos (concrete dome-shaped dynamite storage structures erected during WW-II) near the TNT plant. The igloos were now empty, some owned by the county, others by companies intending to use them for storage. They were heading back to their car when a figure appeared behind their parked vehicle. Mrs. Bennett said that 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.
"Mothman" was an invention by an Ohio newspaper copyeditor, after the first news stories of the "Big Bird" sightings appeared. A large collection of first-hand material about the Mothman is found in John Keel's 1975 book The Mothman Prophecies, in which Keel lays out the chronology of the Mothman and what he claims to be related parapsychological events in the area, including UFO activity, Men in Black encounters, poltergeist activity, Bigfoot and black panther sightings, animal and human mutilations, precognitions by witnesses, and the December 15 1967 collapse of the Silver Bridge spanning the Ohio River. Keel's first book was the basis of a 2002 film, The Mothman Prophecies, starring Richard Gere, Laura Linney, Debra Messing, and Will Patton, directed by Mark Pellington. A companion book called The Eighth Tower, also released in 1975, was derived from material edited from The Mothman Prophecies by the publishers. In the May-June 2002 issue of the Skeptical Inquirer, journalist John C. Sherwood, a former business associate of UFO hoaxer Gray Barker, published an analysis of private letters between Keel and Barker during the period of Keel's investigation. In the article, "Gray Barker's Book of Bunk", Sherwood documented significant differences between what Keel wrote at the time of his investigation and what Keel wrote in his first book about the Mothman reports, raising questions about the book's accuracy.
Cryptozoologist Loren Coleman, in conjunction with Sony/Screen Gems studio and as noted in the documentary film by David Grabias, "In Search of the Mothman", served as one of the fictional movie's two publicity spokespersons (Keel being the other, although Keel's involvement was limited by health concerns).
Andy Colvin, a photographer and documentary filmmaker who claims to have seen the Mothman, has produced two books and a reality series on Mothman called The Mothman's Photographer, featuring John Keel and almost 50 witnesses. Colvin's sister took a snapshot of him in 1973 that allegedly shows a Garuda in the background.
There are several theories concerning the Mothman phenomenon.
- Supernatural theories
John Keel claimed that Mothman was related to parapsychological events in the area, including UFO activity, Men in Black encounters, poltergeist activity, Bigfoot and black panther sightings, animal and human mutilations, precognitions by witnesses, and the December 15, 1967 collapse of the Silver Bridge spanning the Ohio River.
- Misidentified bird
One of the early theories is that the Mothman was a misidentified Sandhill Crane, which, in the late 1960s had been a problem in surrounding regions. Sandhill cranes have an average wingspan of 5.3 feet (up to 7 feet), average overall length of 39 inches and have the general appearance described, glide for long distances without flapping, and have an unusual shriek. Other theories suggest the possibility of the Mothman being a Barn Owl, an albino owl, or perhaps a large Snowy Owl (based on artists' impressions). Skeptics suggest that the Mothman's glowing eyes are actually red-eye caused from the reflection of light, from flashlights, or other light sources that witnesses may have had with them.
The Mothman Festival is a weekend long event held in Point Pleasant, West Virginia occurring on the 3rd weekend every September. There are a variety of events that go on during the festival such as Guest Speakers, Vendor Exhibits, and Hayride Tours focusing on the notable areas of Point Pleasant, West Virginia.
The Mothman vinyl line has been created by renowned artist David Horvath, co-creator of Uglydolls. He has created a line of Japanese vinyl figurines that currently numbers seven. The figurines include Eye Witness, TNT Area, Silver Bridge, Point Pleasant, Indrid Cold, Prophecy, and Chernobyl types. The figurines were produced in editions of fifty or one hundred, depending on the version. The complete set has earned a permanent place at the Mothman Museum in Point Pleasant.
MOTHMAN! The Enigma of Point Pleasant
© Copyright 2001 by Troy Taylor. All Rights Reserved.
Late in the evening of November 15, two young married couples had a very strange encounter as they drove past an abandoned TNT plant near Point Pleasant, West Virginia. The couples spotted two large eyes that were attached to something that was "shaped like a man, but bigger, maybe six or seven feet tall. And it had big wings folded against its back". When the creature moved toward the plant door, the couples panicked and sped away. Moments later, they saw the same creature on a hillside near the road. It spread its wings and rose into the air, following with their car, which by now was traveling at over 100 miles per hour. "That bird kept right up with us," said one of the group. They told Deputy Sheriff Millard Halstead that it followed them down Highway 62 and right to the Point Pleasant city limits. And they would not be the only ones to report the creature that night. Another group of four witnesses claimed to see the “bird” three different times!
Another sighting had more bizarre results. At about 10:30 on that same evening, Newell Partridge, a local building contractor who lived in Salem (about 90 miles from Point Pleasant), was watching television when the screen suddenly went dark. He stated that a weird pattern filled the screen and then he heard a loud, whining sounds from outside that raised in pitch and then ceased. “It sounded like a generator winding up” he later stated. Partridge’s dog, Bandit, began to howl out on the front porch and Newell went out to see what was going on.
When he walked outside, he saw Bandit facing the hay barn, about 150 yards from the house. Puzzled, Partridge turned a flashlight in that direction and spotted two red circles that looked like eyes or “bicycle reflectors”. They moving red orbs were certainly not animal’s eyes, he believed, and the sight of them frightened him. Bandit, an experienced hunting dog and protective of his territory, shot off across the yard in pursuit of the glowing eyes. Partridge called for him to stop, but the animal paid no attention. His owner turned and went back into the house for his gun, but then was too scared to go back outside again. He slept that night with his gun propped up next to the bed. The next morning, he realized that Bandit had disappeared. The dog had still not shown up two days later when Partridge read in the newspaper about the sightings in Point Pleasant that night.
One statement that he read in the newspaper chilled him to the bone. Roger Scarberry, one member of the group who spotted the strange “bird” at the TNT plant, said that as they entered the city limits of Point Pleasant, they saw the body of a large dog lying on the side of the road. A few minutes later, on the way back out of town, the dog was gone. They even stopped to look for the body, knowing they had passed it just a few minutes before. Newell Partridge immediately thought of Bandit, who was never seen again.
On November 16, a press conference was held in the county courthouse and the couples from the TNT plant sighting repeated their story. Deputy Halstead, who had known the couples all of their lives, took them very seriously. “They’ve never been in any trouble,” he told investigators and had no reason to doubt their stories. Many of the reporters who were present for the weird recounting felt the same way. The news of the strange sightings spread around the world. The press dubbed the odd flying creature “Mothman”, after a character from the popular Batman television series of the day.
The remote and abandoned TNT plant became the lair of the Mothman in the months ahead and it could not have picked a better place to hide in. The area was made up of several hundred acres of woods and large concrete domes where high explosives were stored during World War II. A network of tunnels honeycombed the area and made it possible for the creature to move about without being seen. In addition to the manmade labyrinth, the area was also comprised of the McClintic Wildlife Station, a heavily forested animal preserve filled with woods, artificial ponds and steep ridges and hills. Much of the property was almost inaccessible and without a doubt, Mothman could have hid for weeks or months and remained totally unseen. The only people who ever wandered there were hunters and fishermen and the local teenagers, who used the rutted dirt roads of the preserve as “lover’s lanes”.
Very few homes could be found in the region, but one dwelling belonged to the Ralph Thomas family. One November 16, they spotted a “funny red light” in the sky that moved and hovered above the TNT plant. “It wasn’t an airplane”, Mrs. Marcella Bennett (a friend of the Thomas family) said, “but we couldn’t figure out what it was.” Mrs. Bennett drove to the Thomas house a few minutes later and got out of the car with her baby. Suddenly, a figure stirred near the automobile. “It seemed as though it had been lying down,” she later recalled. “It rose up slowly from the ground. A big gray thing. Bigger than a man with terrible glowing eyes.”
Mrs. Bennett was so horrified that she dropped her little girl! She quickly recovered, picked up her child and ran to the house. The family locked everyone inside but hysteria gripped them as the creature shuffled onto the porch and peered into the windows. The police were summoned, but the Mothman had vanished by the time the authorities had arrived.
Mrs. Bennett would not recover from the incident for months and was in fact so distraught that she sought medical attention to deal with her anxieties. She was tormented by frightening dreams and later told investigators that she believed the creature had visited her own home too. She said that she could often hear a keening sounds (like a woman screaming) near her isolated home on the edge of Point Pleasant.
Many would come to believe that the sightings of Mothman, as well as UFO sightings and encounters with “men in black” in the area, were all related. For nearly a year, strange happenings continued in the area. Researchers, investigators and “monster hunters” descended on the area but none so famous as author John Keel, who has written extensively about Mothman and other unexplained anomalies. He has written for many years about UFO’s but dismisses the standard “extraterrestrial” theories of the mainstream UFO movement. For this reason, he has been a controversial figure for decades. According to Keel, man has had a long history of interaction with the supernatural. He believes that the intervention of mysterious strangers in the lives of historic personages like Thomas Jefferson and Malcolm X provides evidence of the continuing presence of the “gods of old”. The manifestation of these elder gods comes in the form of UFO’s and aliens, monsters, demons, angels and even ghosts. He has remained a colorful character to many and yet remains respected in the field for his research and fascinating writings.
Keel became the major chronicler of the Mothman case and wrote that at least 100 people personally witnessed the creature between November 1966 and November 1967. According to their reports, the creature stood between five and seven feet tall, was wider than a man and shuffled on human-like legs. Its eyes were set near the top of the shoulders and had bat-like wings that glided, rather than flapped, when it flew. Strangely though, it was able to ascend straight up “like a helicopter”. Witnesses also described its murky skin as being either gray or brown and it emitted a humming sound when it flew. The Mothman was apparently incapable of speech and gave off a screeching sound. Mrs. Bennett stated that it sounded like a “woman screaming”.
John Keel arrived in Point Pleasant in December 1966 and immediately began collecting reports of Mothman sightings and even UFO reports from before the creature was seen. He also compiled evidence that suggested a problem with televisions and phones that began in the fall of 1966. Lights had been seen in the skies, particularly around the TNT plant, and cars that passed along the nearby road sometimes stalled without explanation. He and his fellow researchers also uncovered a number of short-lived poltergeist cases in the Ohio Valley area. Locked doors opened and closed by themselves, strange thumps were heard inside and outside of homes and often, inexplicable voices were heard. The James Lilley family, who lived just south of the TNT plant, were so bothered by the bizarre events that they finally sold their home and moved to another neighborhood. Keel was convinced that the intense period of activity was all connected.
And stranger things still took place..... A reporter named Mary Hyre, who was the Point Pleasant correspondent for the Athens, Ohio newspaper the Messenger, also wrote extensively about the local sightings. In fact, after one very active weekend, she was deluged with over 500 phone calls from people who saw strange lights in the skies. One night in January 1967, she was working late in her office in the county courthouse and a man walked in the door. He was very short and had strange eyes that were covered with thick glasses. He also had long, black hair that was cut squarely “like a bowl haircut”. Hyre said that he spoke in a low, halting voice and he asked for directions to Welsh, West Virginia. She thought that he had some sort of speech impediment and for some reason, he terrified her. “He kept getting closer and closer to me, “ she said, “ and his funny eyes were staring at me almost hypnotically.”
Alarmed, she summoned the newspaper’s circulation manager to her office and together, they spoke to the strange little man. She said that at one point in the discussion, she answered the telephone when it rang and she noticed the little man pick up a pen from her desk. He looked at it in amazement, “as if he had never seen a pen before.” Then, he grabbed the pen, laughed loudly and ran out of the building.
Several weeks later, Hyre was crossing the street near her office and saw the same man on the street. He appeared to be startled when he realized that she was watching him, turned away quickly and ran for a large black car that suddenly came around the corner. The little man climbed in and it quickly drove away.
By this time, most of the sightings had come to an end and Mothman had faded away into the strange “twilight zone” from which he had come... but the story of Point Pleasant had not yet ended. At around 5:00 in the evening on December 15, 1967, the 700-foot bridge linking Point Pleasant to Ohio suddenly collapsed while filled with rush hour traffic. Dozens of vehicles plunged into the dark waters of the Ohio River and 46 people were killed. Two of those were never found and the other 44 are buried together in the town cemetery of Gallipolis, Ohio.
During Christmas week, a short, dark-skinned man entered the office of Mary Hyre. He was dressed in a black suit, with a black tie, and she said that he looked vaguely Oriental. He had high cheekbones, narrow eyes and an unidentified accent. He was not interested in the bridge disaster, she said, but wanted to know about local UFO sightings. Hyre was too busy to talk with him and she handed her a file of related press clipping instead. He was not interested in them and insisted on speaking with her. She finally dismissed him from her office.
That same night, an identically described man visited the homes of several witnesses in the area who had reported seeing the lights in the sky. He made all of them very uneasy and uncomfortable and while he claimed to be a reporter from Cambridge, Ohio, he inadvertently admitted that he did not know where Columbus, Ohio was even though the two towns are just a few miles apart.
So who was Mothman and what was behind the strange events in Point Pleasant?
Whatever the creature may have been, it seems clear that Mothman was no hoax. There were simply too many credible witnesses who saw “something”. It was suggested at the time that the creature may have been a sandhill crane, which while they are not native to the area, could have migrated south from Canada. That was one explanation anyway, although it was one that was rejected by Mothman witnesses, who stated that what they saw looked nothing like a crane.
But there could have been a logical explanation for some of the sightings. Even John Keel (who believed the creature was genuine) suspected that a few of the cases involved people who were spooked by recent reports and saw owls flying along deserted roads at night. Even so, Mothman remains hard to easily dismiss. The case is filled with an impressive number of multiple-witness sightings by individuals that were deemed reliable, even by law enforcement officials.
But if Mothman was real... and he truly was some unidentified creature that cannot be explained, what was behind the UFO sightings, the poltergeist reports, the strange lights, sounds, the “men in black” and most horrifying, the collapse of the Silver Bridge?
John Keel believes that Point Pleasant was a “window” area, a place that was marked by long periods of strange sightings, monster reports and the coming and going of unusual persons. He states that it may be wrong to blame the collapse of the bridge on the local UFO sightings, but the intense activity in the area at the time does suggest some sort of connection. Others have pointed to another supernatural link to the strange happenings, blaming the events on the legendary Cornstalk Curse that was placed on Point Pleasant in the 1770's.
And if such things can happen in West Virginia, then why not elsewhere in the country? Can these “window” areas explain other phantom attackers, mysterious creatures, mad gassers and more that have been reported all over America? Perhaps they can, but to consider this, we have to consider an even more chilling question... where will the next “window” area be? It might be of benefit to study your local sightings and weird events a little more carefully in the future!
© Copyright 2001 by Troy Taylor. All Rights Reserved.In 1967, the Silver Bridge between Point Pleasant, WV, and Gallipolis, OH, collapsed killing 46 people. This, the first major collapse since the Tacoma Narrows Bridge (7 Nov 1940) prompted national concern, leading to National Bridge Inspection Standards in the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1968. Instead of wire cables, the 700-ft suspension bridge deck hung from a chain of linked eyebars. The dogbone-shaped eyebars had a hole, or "eye," in each end and were linked in pairs by massive pins. When an eyebar pin on one side of the bridge failed its chain dropped below the roadway. The chain on the other side was then unable by itself to support the weight of the entire structure, resulting in complete failure.
Mason County Courthouse
Point Pleasant, County Seat of Mason County, West Virginia-- Originally chartered in 1794 and incorporated 1833. Named after Camp Point Pleasant, established there by General Andrew Lewis at the time of his famous battle with the Indians in 1774. Built on the site of the bloodiest battle ever fought between the Indians and white settlers: the Battle of Point Pleasant, October 10, 1774, the chief event of Dunmore's War, a forerunner of the American Revolution. Location of Tu-endie-wei State Park. Burial place of Cornstalk, Indian Chieftain, and Ann Bailey, celebrated in annals of the border.MOTHMAN - MYTH OR MONSTER?
by M.J. Graeber
MAGONIA Supplement Number 46, March 17, 2003
AMONGST the many urban legends that have sprung up in the United States over the years, perhaps the story of a strange winged creature that was encountered during the 1960s near Point Pleasant, West Virginia is the most fascinating.
The numerous observations of the thing known as Mothman were widely reported by the press, on radio, and over TV news networks throughout the nation; and a book about the creature, written by investigative journalist John Keel, is said to be something of a Fortean classic. Moreover, a motion picture based on Mr Keel's writings, starring veteran film actor Richard Gere, was released on 25 January 2002.
But the many close encounters and fleeting observations of Mothman do not appear to be similar to other urban legend reports such as ghostly sightings of Midnight Mary, the Jersey Devil, or even encounters with alligators splashing about in the sewers of New York City. For the Mothman observations are also said to have a "psychic component" and, although it seems a bit unclear as to why or how the Silver Bridge disaster is linked to the psychic aspect of the Mothman mystery, there were rumours that some Point Pleasant residents had experienced premonitions of impending disaster. Indeed, strange forewarnings of various fateful future events (including the attempted assassination of the Pope) were channelled to Mr Keel by several contactees. Apparently, these psychic warnings reached their peak when the Silver Bridge that spanned the Ohio River near Point Pleasant, West Virginia, suddenly collapsed on 15 December 1967, killing 46 people.For this and many other reasons, Mr Keel's book is entitled The Mothman Prophecies and, although it is obvious that the creature itself did not actually converse with its primary witnesses (early reports indicated that Mothman squeaked like a large mouse), it is thought that the mere sight of the creature may have somehow triggered the psychical remote viewing capabilities of some of the individuals who came into close proximity with it.
Moreover, there were even rumours that two mothmen had been spotted beneath the Silver Bridge just before it toppled. According to the story, they were beating their enormous wings in unison and the combined resonant sound had violently vibrated the structure causing it to collapse. But engineers who examined the fallen span felt that it had succumbed to the combined effects of being of antiquated design (it was built in 1928), increased traffic and structural fatigue.
In addition to the sightings of Mothman, there was also a rash of dog disappearances, and strange cattle and small animal mutilations associated with the creature. In one instance Mothman was said to have stopped chasing a carload of young people to gaze upon a dead dog lying in the road. Similarly, in 1909 the Jersey Devil was said to have devoured small dogs and chickens, and the snatching of various pets and livestock has also been linked to UFOs and mystery airship sightings dating back to the 1890s.
Of course, many rumours have sprung up about Mothman since the 1966 sightings. Some are pure fabrications, while others appear to be simple distortions of the original reports. So, too, there exists a great deal of speculation regarding the creature's true appearance, its activities, and its probable origin.
In fact, to date, it appears that a definitive illustration of the creature hasn't been established and, although most people say that Mothman was grey in colour, there is a report of his having a greenish, scaly skin tone, something like a reptile. In one report, Mothman was said to have pecked at a car window so it's difficult to know if this pecking was typical of bird-like behaviour or if it was similar to that of an insect's reaction to the car's interior lighting (i.e., like a moth drawn to a flame).
Interestingly, several Mothman investigators have suggested that some of the reports sound remarkably like misidentifications of a very large bird. They suggest that a sandhill crane seen from a distance, especially in poor lighting conditions, might look like a man wearing a grey coat, and if the six-foot tall crane should have momentarily unfurled its wings, it seems reasonable to suspect that the misidentified man might have been thought to have huge wings too. Moreover, cranes often use their long powerful legs to spring into the air when taking wing, and it may be that this sort of lift-off technique was thought to be "helicopter-like" by some of the Mothman witnesses. After all, the relatively rare sandhill cranes are not commonly seen in north-eastern American States such as West Virginia. But, enough speculation on the creature for the moment; what in the world did the witnesses actually report seeing?
One of the first sightings of Mothman occurred near Point Pleasant on the night of 15 November 1966, when two young married couples were driving along on a road outside the city limits. Apparently, they saw the seven-foot tall creature standing near an abandoned power plant not too far from a defunct munitions dump known as the TNT area. It had enormous wings and was ashen grey in colour. After being momentarily mesmerised by the creature's large, glowing red eyes (which one witness described as looking like "bicycle reflectors"), the witnesses frantically sped back towards Point Pleasant with the creature swiftly flying along in pursuit of their car.
According to the witnesses, the creature never seemed to flap its ten-foot wide wings as it followed them at speeds which they thought were approaching 100 mph. Fortunately, the creature broke off its pursuit and the terrified group rushed into Mason County Court House and reported the strange encounter to Deputy Sheriff Millard Halstead. Halstead, not knowing quite what to make of the story, returned to the TNT area with the young folks, but failed to catch a glimpse of the creature.
This would not be his last visit to the old explosives site or the abandoned power plant as reports of encounters with the winged monster started to mount.
Interestingly, the initial reports described the creature as looking like "a large bird", but a reporter covering the story dubbed the creature "Mothman" because Batman was a popular TV show at the time and, somehow, the name just stuck.
Of course, there were some discrepancies in the reports involving the creature's appearance, but its enormous reflective eyes, wingspan, height and colouring appeared to be rather consistent.
Another encounter with the thing happened the next day (16 November) when a group of people drove out near the old TNT area to visit the Ralph Thomas family. This group consisted of an adult male, two women and a small child. As they parked their car in front of the Thomas' home one woman reported that a big grey thing seemed to rise up from the ground near the car (as if it had been lying in the grass). It was larger than a man, she thought, and had huge red eyes.
The group momentarily froze in their tracks at the sight of the monster and one woman dropped the child she was holding in her arms, then, after quickly picking the child up, they dashed into the house. Once inside, the shaken group and the Thomas children locked the doors and peered out of the windows (Mr and Mrs Thomas were not home at the time). According to the witnesses' continuing account, Mothman then ambled up upon the porch and gazed through a window at them. By the time the police arrived on the scene Mothman had vanished once more.
According to Daniel Cohen, author of Creatures from UFOs (Simon and Schuster, New York, NY, 1975), "Prior to November 16th, 1966, a number of UFOs had been observed in the Point Pleasant area. In fact. for years there had been a large number of UFO sightings reported throughout the state of West Virginia." Yet, Mr Cohen finds it to be a bit unusual that the Mothman sightings have been speculatively linked to UFOs, since no one actually reported observing the creature coming out of (or entering) a flying saucer. Mr Cohen feels that people probably just "assume" that Mothman was somehow connected to the UFO sightings because the sightings of each happened to have coincided (both geographically and temporally). Of course, it's also true that some crop circle formations as well as cattle mutilations have also been linked to UFO activity, when no one actually saw a UFO in the vicinity at the exact times of such incidents; but in other instances, strange aerial lights (UFOs) and mysterious black helicopters have been reported along with cattle mutilations and the appearances of crop circles.
Moreover, according to Fate magazine's David F. Goodwin, reported sightings of men in black (MIBs) in and around the Point Pleasant area at the time of the Mothman encounters tended to add even more mystery to the overall story and this, too, may bolster suspicions that Mothman was, indeed, of extraterrestrial origin.
The illustrations of the creature that have been published vary quite a bit, and on Mr John Keel's book jacket the creature looks like a comic-book superhero of sorts (i.e., a spiderman with enormous insect-like wings). The creature's wings appear to be upright and independent of its arms, and it has a normal-sized head sitting upon broad and muscular shoulders. The illustration does not in the least bit look "bird-like" nor does it appear to be particularly terrifying to behold.
In Mr Daniel Cohen's book, Mothman appears to be more batman-like and it's difficult to determine if its head, which also appears to be normal in size, is hooded or masked - this Mothman has very long spindly arms that appear to be supporting his unfurled bat-like wings or cape.
In both illustrations the creature's costume is tight fitting. But in other sketches the creature looks like a headless man with enormous bug-like eyes situated between its shoulders. Interestingly, insectoid creatures have reportedly been seen in UFOs along with humanoids and several other types of alien entities.
Both Thomas Ury and Connie Carpenter described Mothman as being tall and grey. Ury said he thought that the creature looked like a man wearing a grey coat, and each reported seeing its gigantic wings unfold from behind its back. Interestingly, Ury and Carpenter were pursued by the creature while in their cars and Carpenter described its face as being "horrible" like something straight out of a science fiction movie. But others in Point Pleasant would suspect that Mothman was actually an incarnate manifestation of a 200-year old curse upon their community.
In 1774, a Shawnee chieftain named "Cornstalk" was mortally wounded in a battle with colonial militiamen at the confluence of the Ohio and Kanawha Rivers (which is now known as Point Pleasant). Apparently, Chief Cornstalk was tricked into an ambush by the fork-tongued governor of Virginia (Lord Dunmore) who desired to quash anti-British sentiments amongst the colonists by inciting fears and hatred against the Native Americans of the region.
Chief Cornstalk thought he was meeting with the colonists to make a treaty and is said to have uttered a dreadful curse upon the land with his dying breath. Since that time, numerous catastrophes of varying magnitude such as fires and floods have occurred in Point Pleasant, causing generation after generation of townspeople to wonder if Cornstalk's curse had truly come to pass, even to the point where the appearance of Mothman was believed by some to be a malevolent incarnation of the curse that brought down the Silver Bridge.
One rainy night in August 1973, my daughter Tina (then aged 13) accidentally dropped a sewing needle on the floor and didn't realise that she had until she stepped on it as she was heading off to bed. Unfortunately the needle, which was nestled in the pile of a shag rug, broke off deep in her right foot and, although I was able to remove about a half-inch piece of it, yet another piece remained deeply embedded and required professional medical attention.
At first, Tina seemed uncertain that a little piece of the needle was till lodged in her foot, so it was not until two or three hours later that she decided the pain she was experiencing was not an after-effect of the initial injury. As I recall, at was about 1:00 a.m. that we started our trip to the emergency room of Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital in Darby, Pa., which was located about six or seven miles from our home.
It was very foggy that night and a light misty rain coated the windscreen as we began our trek. We didn't encounter too much traffic as we travelled along Woodland Avenue and left the city limits of Southwestern Philadelphia. The misty drizzle continued to fall and, naturally, I was driving fairly slowly as visibility was quite limited.
Tina was a little apprehensive about how the emergency room doctor might remove the needle and I was attempting to assure her that he or she would make it as painless as possible for her (they actually removed the needle through the top of her foot).
Traffic lights seemed to suddenly appear from out of nowhere through the misty shroud and the occasional street light appeared to be a luminous cone that slipped by like a buoy in a foggy harbour.
Suddenly, a red light pierced the mist and I brought my car to a halt at an intersection. The faint outline of a neon sign illuminated a tavern's window and reflected off the wet pavement. Two street lights also illuminated a section of the roadway just beyond the tavern's lights and the shadow of a strange bipedal figure caught in the light fanned out across the ground revealing what looked like an enormous headless man with huge shoulders, elongated arms, and gigantic wings. My daughter instinctively slid across the seat closer to me and grabbed my arm while asking, "Daddy . . . what is it?"
Of course I, too, was completely astonished by the spectacle as the shadow started to recede and the figure it belonged to emerged. The headless monster was about seven feet tall, and moved with a shuffling gait. It had two bright white vertical eyes, lit up like those of some animal caught in a car's headlights. Its wings were translucent or light grey in colour and looked as if they were flaring out - but they were not fully extended as if the thing intended to take flight. The monster's arms seemed to dangle low against its body and its hands looked like claws, because the thing had passed through the first street light so quickly it was now almost completely silhouetted against the light and headed straight towards us.
I quickly looked about and revved my car's engine in order to escape, and my action seemed to startle the monster as my tyres squealed and the car fish-tailed on the rain-soaked roadway.
As we passed the figure, I momentarily caught a glimpse of it in our headlights and realised that the thing wasn't a monster at all - but an early-morning hiker with a large backpack-bedroll strapped above his shoulders. He was wearing a transparent (plastic) poncho and had attached his bedroll to his backpack's frame with straps that also had bicycle reflectors affixed to them.
My daughter and I were both so relieved and astonished by our optical discovery that we immediately broke into nervous laughter and completely forgot about Tina's foot for a moment or two. This had been an extremely scary experience and, if we had not had the opportunity to better observe the figure as we sped by it, we may never have realised that our "Mothman" was merely a hiker dressed for inclement weather. Come to think of it, at the time of the incident Tina and I were totally unaware of the Mothman legend and, of course, neither of us had read John Keel's or Gray Barker's books about the creature's many appearances or the collapse of the Silver Bridge.
Was Mothman a misidentified swamp bird, a ufonaut, the embodiment of a Shawnee chieftain's dying curse, a hiker, or a will-o'-the-wisp born of a localised hysteria that gripped Point Pleasant much like the sightings of the Jersey Devil did in 1909? In that case, people locked their doors and windows, closed businesses, and armed themselves. Similar behaviour has recently been associated with the appearances of an ill-defined creature simply known as Monkey Man in New Delhi, India, where a roving band of over-zealous young men armed with clubs mistakenly attacked a late-night delivery man working in their community.
In the area surrounding Point Pleasant at the time of the Mothman encounters a large vulture was shot, as was an Arctic snowy owl that must have scared the wits out of the farmer that brought it down. After all, it looked sort of light grey in colour, and had round reflective eyes.
Sightings of Mothman suddenly dropped off after the 15 December 1967 collapse of the Silver Bridge, and no one seems to know why, but one wonders if Mothman's appearances somehow caused (or triggered) some folks to experience prophetic visions of the bridge's impending doom? Perhaps we will never know for sure, but this much seems certain - those who actually saw Mothman appear to be unimpressed with the many attempts to prosaically identify the creature, and it is clear that their encounters with the thing had a profound impact upon them. So it is that Mothman slips into the history of Point Pleasant while steadily growing into a modern-day legend and a rather remarkable piece of American folklore.
'Mothman' sightings will continue
By Stephen Schaefer, USA TODAY
Melissa Moseley, AP
Until now, the Mothman has been known only to a devoted, cultlike few. That's certain to change with The Mothman Prophecies, out Friday and starring Richard Gere. The otherworldly 7-foot, red-eyed, winged apparition known as Mothman might even become a pop-culture totem, like Big Foot.
John A. Keel's The Mothman Prophecies is based on paranormal events the author experienced and studied in Point Pleasant, W.Va., in 1966-67, while writing about UFOs for Playboy. It's not giving away too much to say the residents were hearing and seeing things, culminating in a bridge collapse that cost 46 lives.
Because the thriller is advertised as "based on true events," Keel, Mothman director Mark Pellington and Mothman expert Loren Coleman (featured at 10 ET/PT Wednesday night on the FX channel documentary Searching for the Mothman) reveal the "truths" behind the film. "Maybe we should have said 'inspired by true events,' " a cheerful Pellington says.
Says Coleman, who has published a book on the "dark and sinister" subject: "Pellington's made it a psychological thriller and not a monster movie. With this movie, Point Pleasant will become like Roswell and explode with tourism." In the film, Washington Post reporter John Klein, played by Gere, investigates the strange goings-on. "That's fiction," Pellington says.
But a few truths are out there:
* Frightened teens. "That came right out of the book," Pellington says. "Keel describes two kids who had sex who felt this thing attack them."
Says Coleman, who interviewed one of them: "A huge creature about 7 feet tall with huge wings and red eyes shuffled toward them, they ran to the car, and at 100 mph drove back to Point Pleasant. They could see the creature flapping right behind them."
* Sad sack. Will Patton (TV's The Agency) plays a man going nuts from his encounters with the Mothman, who takes the form of Gere's Klein. "He's invented, a composite of two of the major witnesses who had intense Mothman manifestations," Pellington says. "Like Alan Bates says to Klein in the film, 'It's perception, John. They appear differently to everybody. A man, a voice, a light, a monster.' That I wrote."
* The scientist. Bates (Gosford Park) plays Alexander Leek, driven mad by his Mothman encounter. Leek is fictional, but the name is a clue: It's Keel spelled backward.
Says Keel, 72: "The book tells what happened to me. Alan Bates gives a Keel speech, almost word for word, of what I've been saying for years."
* The tragedy. As for the Silver Bridge collapse, "that happened in 1967," Pellington says. "It was explained as metal fatigue. Once the bridge came down, the phone calls and sightings stopped. That's why it became legendary and why people blamed a force." Coleman says that is fiction. "Sightings continue."
The real Keel, unlike Gere's Klein, was nowhere near the bridge that day. "I knew the exact time it was going to happen, but you couldn't warn anyone because it might cause a panic, and it might not be true." He knew because "I was getting these damned mysterious phone calls, just like in the movie."
The film has 36 people dying, not 46, but the studio didn't "want to kill too many," Pellington says. "My father's football number was 36, and 40 was too many."
cpsi-paranormal mothman page: http://www.cpsi-paranormal.org/Mothman.html
MOTHMAN LIVES DOT COM: http://www.mothmanlives.com/
MOTHMAN MUSEUM MYSPACE PAGE: www.myspace.com/mothmanmuseum
EYES OF THE MOTHMAN (official site of the documentary film): http://www.eyesofthemothman.com/mothintro.html
MOTHMAN CENTRAL: http://www.paraview.com/mothman_central.htm
MOTHMAN from Answers Dot Com
Winged humanoid creature reported in West Virginia from November 1966 to December 1967, along with strange lights, apparitions of men in black, and other occult phenomena supposedly connected with UFOs. These phenomena culminated on December 15, 1967, with the collapse of the Silver Bridge across the Ohio River at Point Pleasant. The name "Mothman" was the inspiration of a newspaper editor, who derived it from the Batman comic book hero, then the subject of a popular television series.
In his book The Mothman Prophecies: An Investigation Into the Mysterious American Visits of the Infamous Feathery Garuda (1975), author John A. Keel suggests that these and other occult appearances might be the work of evil entities. The term "garuda" derives from ancient Hindu mythology, where Garuda is king of the birds, half-man, half-bird, the vehicle of the god Vishnu. In the religious epic the Ramayana, Jatayu is the son of Vishnu's Garuda, and dies fighting against the demon Ravana in an attempt to prevent the abduction of the princess Sita.
In February 1976, three schoolteachers in Texas reported sightings of a "Big Bird," discussed in Grey Barker's Newsletter (no. 7, March 1977). An earlier issue of the newsletter (no. 5, March 1976) had reported a more bizarre claimed abductee experience with "Vegetable Man," pictured as a triffid-style animated tree.
UFO authority Jacques Vallee compared Mothman and similar apparitions to Springheeled Jack, the legendary creature of early nineteenth-century Britain, who attacked travelers and terrified women with his giant leaps and diabolical appearance. Mothman was said to chase motorists and to frighten women. Witnesses stated that he was large, gray in color, without feathers, and with eyes that glowed red. It has been suggested that Mothman is a UFO phenomenon.Sources:
Clark, Jerome. Encyclopedia of Strange and Unexplained Phenomena. Detroit: Gale Research, 1993.
Haining, Peter. The Legend and Bizarre Crimes of Springheeled Jack. London: Frederick Muller, 1977.
Keel, John A. The Mothman Prophecies: An Investigation Into the Mysterious American Visits of the Infamous Feathery Garuda. New York: Saturday Review Press/Dutton, 1975. Reprint, New York: New American Library, 1976. Reprinted as Visitors From Space: The Astonishing True Story of the Mothman Prophecies. St. Albans, England: Panther, 1976.
Mothman & The Thunderbird
August 2002 by Daniel V. Boudillion
Revised & Updated June 2003
The Mothman is one of the strangest and most terrifying of anomalous creatures ever to be recorded in America. Between November 12, 1966 and December 15, 1967, it terrorized citizens in the Point Pleasant area of West Virginia. It was said to have been encountered by at least 100 people over the course of that year. According to author John A. Keel (The Mothman Prophecies, 1975) who was on hand investigating the reports during the time of the sightings, the creature was reported to be roughly man-shaped, either grey or brown, and between five and seven feet tall. Its body was wider than a man's. It did not appear to have a head, but rather its "eyes" were set on the upper chest. These "eyes" were very large, and alternately described as glowing red lights, or a reflected red like a bicycle reflector. (Glowing red eyes are the surest sign of a paranormal entity.) When it walked it shuffled on what appeared to be human-like legs, but no feet were ever observed. Rather than arms it had bat-like wings which it did not flap. It was always seen to glide. The non-flapping of the wings, even in ascent, is particularly disturbing. Indeed, it was reported to regularly ascend straight up like a helicopter - and again be it noted, without any wing-action. (In regards to the wings, John Keel determined that a man the size and heft of the Mothman would require 24 foot wings to be able to glide.) It was fast in flight, able to pace cars going over 100 miles an hour. In flight it emitted a humming sound and often emitted a "mouse-like squeaking." Occasionally it was heard to also emit a screeching sound something like a woman screaming. (This "woman screaming" sound is common among anomalous creatures, particularly the Bigfoot creatures.) No one who saw it was indifferent to the creature - it struck terror into the hearts of all its viewers.
On June 15, 2002 I was visiting the Fruitlands Museum in Harvard Massachusetts. While in the Indian Museum, I noticed an artifact that bore a startling resemblance to Mothman descriptions. This artifact is ten inches tall and made of copper sheet. It was recovered in Amoskeag Falls, Manchester, New Hampshire, and was probably fashioned from a copper kettle acquired through trade with Europeans during the early Contact Period, circa 1550-1630 A.D. It is attributed to the Pennacook Indians and labeled "Thunderbird." The main difference between the Mothman descriptions and the Thunderbird artifact is that the artifact is crafted with a head, while the Mothman is typically described as having no head. The general body shape - other then the head discrepancy - is identical. The most striking similarity is the "eye" placement. The Thunderbird artifact has two holes placed on the upper chest, same as Mothman descriptions. Presently, these "eyes" on the Thunderbird artifact are being used as string holes to lace the figure to a museum stand.
I inquired of the Museum Staff if the holes were meant as "eyes", or were lacing holes. They did not know, but gave their opinion that as "eyes", they were very compelling. I also asked if the holes were part of the original creation or were added later as lacing holes, but the staff was unable to provide information on this. A New England Koasek Abenaki who is familiar with both this item and with Thunderbird lore states that, "the two holes bored into the copper at the 'chest' would have had a braintan lace knotted through them to suspend the ornament/talisman from the wearer's neck." He goes on to state that, "We have our own theories as to the significance...." Interestingly, the Fruitlands item I examined is only a reproduction - the original is in the collection of the Peabody Museum at Harvard, catalog number 88-45-10/46959. A Native American version of its acquisition by Harvard's Peabody Museum is that it was obtained from a robber of a Pennacook Abenaki gravesite in New Hampshire.Thunderbird Lore:
Although primarily associated with the Plains Indians, the Thunderbird was known to the Algonquin speaking peoples of New England. However, like most Native American culture in New England, little is now known of their beliefs. In regards to the Thunderbird, this much is known: it was a fearsome being and resembled a winged man or an immense bird, it caused fear and dread, and was said to actually kill and eat humans from time to time. (Jim Brandon - The Rebirth Of Pan)
According to a New England Koasek Abenaki about the Pmola (puh-MOH-lah): "Our legends tell us of a being who appeared as a giant bird-like creature, with glowing red eyes and claws, who would swoop down on unsuspecting animals and people and carry them off ... never to be seen again. The Indian peoples of the Eastern Seaboard and Woodlands all share similar stories. Grandmothers and Mothers would caution their children to behave, lest Pmola find them unawares and carry them away."
Jacques Marquette, a French explorer relates a petroglyph of the Piasa near Alton Illinois in 1673: "On the flat face of a high rock were painted, in red, black, and green, a pair of monsters, each as large as a calf, with horns like a deer, red eyes, a beard like a tiger, and a frightful expression of countenance. The face is something like that of a man, the body covered with scales, and the tail so long that it passes entirely round the body, over the head, and between the legs, ending like that of a fish." It was supposed to live high in a cave on the bluff. An Alton, Illinois scholar named McAdmas observed during the mid 1800s, that the name Piasa "signifies, in Illini, 'The bird that devours men.'" And indeed, it was Illini legend that children and adults were carried away and eaten.
The Cherokee ledgend of the Tlanuwa is similar of the Piasa. The Tlanuwa were a pair of immense birds said to live in a cave on the north bank of the Little Tennessee River in Blount County Tennessee. They would fly up an down the river, even coming into the villages to carry off and eat dogs and small children.
According to a New England Koasek Abenaki about the Bad8gi (BAH-dohn-KEE): "I personally believe that the Thunderbird here in the East is based upon an ancient species of raptor, one that possessed a wingspan in excess of twenty feet. These gigantic preying birds were the antecedents of the Eagles that are so important to our culture and traditions today. Ancient oral traditions among the Algonquin/Abenaki tell us that these raptors rode the lightning and the thunderheads, coming up from the South, in a corridor that extends from Mexico right on up the Appalachians into New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine. I believe that the copper representation you refer to is this Thunder Being, and was made to harness the spiritual powers to benefit the wearer. Our word for this Being is Bad8gi."
[The "8" in Bad8gi is intentional. In Abenaki, the sound "OOHN" is represented by the 8 or ô, (an "o" with a circumflex.) ]
The largest bird in North America is the California Condor with a wingspan of up to nine feet. The largest known bird today is the Andean Condor with a wingspan up to 12 feet. Unlike the Andean Condor, the California is a very rare and endangered bird with only a small territory left of its once large range. But as recently as the early 1800's it still apparently lived in eastern America as well, according to Halliday's Vanishing Birds. Could Andean Condors, however, be flying up - or have ever flown up from South America? In any event, Ornithologists tell us that the claw strength of either condor is not strong enough to carry food for much distance, and besides, the condor is a carrion eater, not a predator bird. Be that as it may, reports of giant birds - Thunderbirds perhaps - have been reported in eastern America since colonial times. These giant birds are reported to have wings like a "B-29", and are known for trying to carry off children and livestock. Numerous modern reports from Illinois attest to this.
Interestingly, there once existed a gigantic bird in North America called the Teratornis Merriami (Feduccia, The Age of Birds). It stood five feet tall with a 24 foot wingspan. According to Dr. Kenneth Campbell it was, unlike the condor, a predator bird, "the long narrow beak was of the predator type, rather than the carrion eater type (condor)." He goes on to say, "the bones of some as recent as 8000 years ago have almost always been found in conjunction with human habitation sites." (Loren Coleman comments: "Were Amerindians killing these giant condor-like birds for their feathers or because the birds had been kidnapping their children and stock?) This is interesting information indeed, because 8000 years places it well within the human era, and Thunderbird legends may well be echoes of this giant predator bird.
Native Americans who have written me have this to say about the Giant Bird/Thunderbird connection: "The giant raptors were strong fliers and strong walkers. They preferred making short trips on foot and they were the size of a man and walked almost erect (not like the usual bird).
Indians in Illinois dreaded meeting the giant raptor at night and mistaking it for a human, which happened."
From another source, "[Consider] Nadinahamasit, the Turkey Vulture. If you have ever seen this unmistakable form above you, it is real easy to visualize the Thunderbird. Black, all wings and primaries outstretched, just a ridin'-the-thermals, little no-neck head darting this way and that, looking for prey."
These descriptions are particularly relevant as the silhouette of a giant walking turkey vulture (if there is such a thing) would from behind have a very similar silhouette to the Mothman, and, it is interesting to note that the Mothman is described as "... from behind, it appears to have no head."
Bearing in mind Loren Coleman's remark, a correspondent had this to say, "My father's grandmother was one of the last Tamaroa Indians, who were natives of central Illinois along the Mississippi river and its tributaries. According to them, they battled the giant eagles for generations and when the last one known to them was finally killed they found hundreds of human skulls in its lair. It was not a condor or vulture but a perfect replica of the familiar golden eagle but about 3 times larger. Despite their size they were strong fliers and also strong walkers, and theypreferred to traverse short distances afoot walking almost erect like a human with folded wings behind them.
Giant bird sightings are not, however, in any way straightforward - if that can even be the case in such an odd subject. There is a certain paranormal element to many of the modern sightings. For example, in Illinois - which is a hot-spot of such sightings - reports are that the creatures glow. Typical of night sightings, "It was grayish and illuminated ... it as big as a house. It [glowed] greenish-yellow and bobbed up and down." Another report, "[it was] illuminated by a dull glow." And, "Its eyes were wide open and shone like burning coals." (All from Alton Illinois - Piasa territory.)
Mothman's European Relatives:
The Mothman and his kin seem to get around. The following are reports of winged "human-shaped" entity sightings.
Sweden, 1946: During the "ghost rocket" episode, the Swedes were also reporting huge winged creatures without heads.
Kent England 1963: Four teenagers saw a black figure shuffle towards them, "It was the size of a human ... but it didn't seem to have any head ... there were huge wings on it back - like bat wings." (Mervyn Hutchinson)
Mawnan Cornwall, 1976: Two 14 year old girls and a 12 year old saw a hissing "owl man" accompanied by a hissing noise. Sally Chapman: "It was like a big owl with pointed ears, as big as a man. The eyes were red and glowing ... its feet were like pincers." Barbara Perry: "It was horrible, a nasty owl-face with big ears and big red eyes. It was covered with grey feathers. The claws in its feet were black. It flew straight up...."
Note the headlessness in the Swedish and English accounts, and the glowing red eyes, grey feathers, and ability to fly straight up on the Cornwall accounts. All are reported attributes of the American Mothman. The grey feathers, the shuffle-walk, and the red eyes are shared by both the Mothman and the Thunderbird.
There is a startling visual resemblance between the Mothman descriptions and the Thunderbird artifact. The single difference is the head - the Thunderbird has one, Mothman doesn't. If the holes in the Thunderbird figure were intended as eyes, the identical placement of the eyes is a significant feature. With the exception of the head, the Thunderbird is a figure that exactly reproduces the Mothman descriptions.
A correspondent has this to say about the head-discrepancy: "I feel compelled to tell you that I found an important misconception in your evaluation of the Pennacook figure. The shape in the Native America figure is not a "head", but a stylized flame as shown by it's shape. This has been placed there to anthropomorphize the figure but does not show a solid head. This in my eyes makes the figures identical."
(While on the subject of heads, it is interesting to note that in 1952 in Flatwoods West Virginia a towering entity with glowing eyes and a "head shaped like an ace of spades" was seen by multiple witnesses. The "ace of spades" shape is a good description of the head on the Pennacook Thunderbird artifact.)
A second resemblance is its perceived disposition: the citizens of Point Pleasant felt terrorized by the Mothman - the Thunderbird was a figure of dread and fear in the culture of the Pennacook craftsman who created the copper figure. There is more correspondence between the artifact and composite sketch than between physical descriptions of the Mothman and traditional descriptions of the Thunderbird. The traditional descriptions of the Thunderbird tend to represent a gigantic bird, while the Mothman is described as a winged man-like figure. However, in either case, both had glowing red eyes - a telling clue - and flew, and were beings of dread. From behind, a large walking Thunderbird bird would resemble a Mothman being. The oddly raised shoulders of the Mothman would correspond to the hunched up wings of a shuffling bird. Both are recorded as shuffling. It is also significant that Thunderbird lore states that giant raptors when walking could be mistaken at night for a human.
Interestingly, both the Mothman and Thunderbird are recorded as flying without flapping their wings. The Mothman is always recorded this way, the Thunderbird only occasionally. However, the occasions it is sighted in "paranormal" non-flapping flight, are also the occasions it is observed to have glowing red eyes.
The Pennacook Abenaki Thunderbird artifact has been labeled a "Bad8gi" Thunder Being by the modern Koasek Abenaki. The "Mothman" sketch is a composite of over 100 witness accounts from 1966. Both items are visually similar, and significant portions of their lore - the paranormal portions - overlap. One assumes there is a connection, a commonalty. But are they the same being?The initial question may not be whether there is a strange "Mothman" creature that troubled folks in West Virginia, or whether there really is or was a Thunderbird being that the Pennacook of New Hampshire and other Algonquin speaking tribes of New England feared - the point is that both cultures have legend of it, and images of this creature (in this case composite sketch and copper artifact) - with the exception of the head motif in this instance - are identical. Secondly, it would appear that this is a case of significant correspondence between anomalous-appearing beings, rather than sightings of a real yet unknown species (such as a large bird). The constants between the Mothman and Thunderbird are in the paranormal aspects. If they are the same creature, they are a paranormal one.
Thirdly, in regards to the Thunderbird, there appears to be two situations happening simultaneously: a paranormal red-eyed anomalous entity, and the possibility of a large unknown raptor akin to the Teratornis Merriami. This does not apply to the Mothman or his kin - the Mothman has always proved himself to be paranormal. If there are indeed strange paranormal beings in the world, perhaps they are definable by types - much in the way the reports of lake monsters and Bigfoot are recognizable "types." If so, whatever produces these phenomena appears to be consistent in its types. I find it curious that two cultures separated by 400 years, 750 miles, and dissimilar cultures have recorded a particular "type" in almost exact detail.
I would say that there are grounds for suggesting that the good folks at Point Pleasant in 1966 and the fine Abenaki Pennacook of sixteenth century New Hampshire were reporting images of the same being - whatever that being may really be. Anyone who would like to correspond about possible Mothman and Thunderbird connections, or has further information, may do so at: email@example.com.
Notes & Sources:
Alien Animals by Janet and Colin Bord
Complete Guide to Mysterious Beings by John Keel
Curious Encounters by Loren Coleman
Goblin Universe by Ted Holliday
Mothman & Other Curious Encounters by Loren Coleman
Mothman Prophecies by John Keel
Mysterious America revised edition by Loran Coleman
Monster No Joke For Those Who Saw It
The Athens Messenger
Friday, November 18, 1966
By Roger Bennett
Assistant News Editor
"They think it's a big joke. they think we can go out there and it'll come out for us.:
"It" is the red-eyed, winged-back, six-foot manlike thing which has turned a remote section of Mason County, W. Va., into a dusty, car-packed thrill show.
"They" are the hundreds of curious sightseers, who have jammed a 10,000-acre (sic) east of Point of Pleasant each night since the creature was sighted by two young married couples last Tuesday.
The sightseers know there isn't such a thing, but they aren't about to miss a chance seeing it.
The people who've seen it so far, especially Mr. and Mrs. Roger Scarberry and Mr. and Mrs. Steve Mallett (sic), are afraid they'll see it again. But they keep looking.
"I hope others do see it. I hope it scares them as much as it did us. Maybe then they'll believe the thing exists and we're not dreaming," Mrs. Mallette said.
The two couples first spotted the creature Tuesday in the sprawling - marshy area which contains the McClintic Wildlife Sanctuary and a huge abandoned TNT plant. Most of the property is government owned.
Thursday night the area was ablaze from the lights of cars and flashlights as the curious traveled up and down the maze of dirt roads. Police officials estimate more than 1,000 persons were searching the area prior to midnight.
Every intersection was jammed with parked cars and small clumps of laughing, jostling young adults. Huge abandoned powder plant buildings rang with the shrieks of youngsters, scaring themselves more in the pitch-black plants than the people standing in the narrow roadways.
Volunteer police officers and firemen - creeping through the crowds - have one major fear. They estimated that each car in the area had at least on gun. One officer hear and automatic rifle bark several times Thursday night behind one of the many buildings.
Early sightings - besides that of the two couples - have several things in common. The description includes two red eyes about six inches apart, wings with 10-foot span and always manlike, with stocky legs. These sightings came from Cheshire, Rutland, several persons at an isolated home near the TNT plant and one in Doddridge County, W. Va., east of Parkersburg.
The Scarberrys and the Mallettes said they believe the thing "didn't mean to harm us," even though Mrs. Scarberry had to be treated for shock, only to chase them away. At one time the creature came within 100 feet of their car.
In all they spotted it five times the first night. They've seen it twice since. The first night it chased their car at speeds up to 100, gliding above and behind the vehicle. It emitted a sound similar to a "record played at a high speed or squeak of a mouse."
4 More Say They Saw Red-Eyed 'Whatever'
Pacific Stars and Stripes
November 20, 1966
Point Pleasant, W. Va. (UPI) - The mystery of the flying "whatever it was" continued here Thursday.
Four more persons reported seeing a huge, bird-like creature with red eyes, and in Doddridge County, more than 100 miles to the north, a farmer feels his german shepher was "dognapped" by the thing.
Mason County Sheriff George Johnson said he does not discount the stories of Steve Mallette and Roger Scarberry and their wives. All four swear they saw the creature three times late Tuesday and early Wednesday, near an abandoned power plant five miles north of here.
Raymond Wamsley and his wife, and Marcella Bennett and Ricky Thomas told Johnson they saw it, too, in the same general area.
Johnson said he feels whatever everyone saw was nothing more than a "freak shitepoke," a large bird of the heron family. The shitepoke, or shag as it is sometimes known, is the smallest heron in the western hemisphere.
No one, however, could explain how a shag or similar large bird could fly 100 m.p.h. as Scarberry and Mallette said the thing they saw did. All four said they would take lie detector tests.
At a farm in Doddridge County near the Harrison County community of Salem, contractor Newell Partridge said he saw something with eyes like "red reflectors" in a meadow near his home. He sighted this "thing" about 90 minutes before the Point Pleasant incident.
Partridge said his television set began acting up, "sounding like a generator," and his $350 german shepherd, Bandit, started "carrying on something terrible."
After the dog had howled for some time, Partridge said, he opened the door and shone a flashlight into the field where the "reflectors" were seen.
The dog's hair stood straight up, Partridge said, and the animal then went after the reflectors. The dog never returned.
Is Mysterious Creature Balloon Or Crane?
The Athens Messenger
Sunday, November 26, 1966
Point Pleasant - Rumors are flying through Mason County faster than the "thing," which has been spoted by several people in various locations.
The "thing" is described as being six feet tall, soars with a pair of wings with a 10-foot span, has red eyes six inches apart and leaves a print like a hoof mark.
Two young married couples first spotted the "thing" Tuesday night in a 10,000-acre section east of Point Pleasant. The sector contains the McClintic Wildlife Sanctuary and and abandoned government TNT plant.
Since that time the flying creature has been seen in various parts of West Virginia and Ohio. Each description contains the phrase "red eyes, six inches apart."
The thing has caused a sudden interest in the remote TNT plant area and nightly motorists plow bumper-to-bumper over the dusty, dirt roads in hopes of spotting the creature.
Monday morning quarterbacks have taken three approaches to the sightings. They either laugh at the sighters, give theories about the creature or they contend they've seen it themselves.
The latest theory about the creature was advanced by Dr. Robert Smith, associate professor of biology at West Virginia University. Smith said the descriptions of the creature fit that of the huge sandhill crane.
Smith said the crane stands six feet or better, has a huge wing span and has red forehead feathers.
However, Ohio University Zoology department officials gave a different view concerning the sandhill crane theory.
Ohio U. officials said there has never been a known sighting of a sandhill crane in this part of the country.