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Mothman - Hide Your Lamps

Updated: Apr 5

Moths, the butterfly's dusty cousin. They aren't the most beautiful, smartest, or least pesky animal in the world. Can you tell that I don't like moths? Imagine reaching into your closet for your favorite sweater and an irate moth flies out at you from that same sweater. Now imagine that moth is the size of a large man.

The Mothman of Point Pleasant, West Virginia, has fascinated scholars of the Weird for decades. Sightings of the Mothman began in November 1966. Strange things had been happening in West Virginia for a while before Mothman showed up. Unidentified flying objects were reported in the area. There was even an encounter with an alien calling himself Indrid Cold, the Smiling Man.

Most descriptions of the Mothman are of a humanoid bird or bat. The name, Mothman, seems to have come from a throwaway comment made by a journalist.

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Saturday Night November 12 – Digging Graves

The first sighting of the world's mothiest man happened on a chilly Saturday night in Clendenin, West Virginia. Several men were digging Graves in the Clendenin, a town near Point Pleasant, cemetery that night.

Completely normal Saturday night activities aside, the men got the feeling that they weren't quite alone in that graveyard. Cemeteries are spooky places to be at any time of day, but an autumn evening might be the creepiest.

After, probably, checking the graves around them for signs of zombies or ghosts, one of the men happened to glance up at a tree. He cried out in terror. Soon his fellow graves-men saw it too.

Leaping from tree to tree was a winged humanoid creature. They described it as “brown” and “human-like”. After leaping through a few trees, the creature launched itself into the sky, passing over the gravediggers' heads.

Tuesday Night November 15 – Playing with Dynamite

Roger and Linda Scarberry drove out to the old WWII munitions factory with their friends, Mary and Steve Mallette. The 'TNT Area' was a favorite of local couples looking to get spooky near Point Pleasant.

They arrived at the TNT Area expecting nothing more than a creepy old factory. Instead, they came face to face with what they described as a 6-7 foot (1.8-2.1 meters) tall figure with bright red eyes.

Linda Scarberry stated that she was unable to make out any facial features due to the creature's hypnotic red eyes. Roger Scarberry and Steve Mallette told The Point Pleasant Register that the creature had a 10-foot (3 meters) wingspan and massive glowing red eyes spaced 6 inches (15.24 centimeters) 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..."

They watched the creature hopping around awkwardly for a while. Mothman didn't like their headlights, and seemed to be trying to avoid them (un-mothly behavior is you ask me). Eventually, the creature took to the air. The couples' relief turned to terror as they realized that it was flying right at them.

Roger floored it and they sped off into the darkness. To their horror the winged creature was still gliding above their vehicle when they hit 100 mph (160.93 km/h). The pursuit ended when they reached Route 62.

"I'm a hard guy to scare" Scarberry said, "but last night I was for getting out of there."

After making into town, they decided to go back to the TNT Area. They found the creature “waiting” for them. This time they got a good look at it, well, a better look. According to their interview with the press, they described it as light-gray with eyes that shone red only when illuminated by the headlights.

The creature walked off into a nearby field, ending their encounter.

"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."

Sightings Continue – Enter the Sandhill Crane Theory

According to the Gettysburg Times, eight more sightings of the Mothman happened in the next 3 days. One sighting highlighted in the article was by two deputy firefighters.

Captain Paul Yoder and Benjamin Enochs claimed to have seen an extremely large bird with glowing red eyes. Their description led Dr. Robert L. Smith, professor of wildlife biology at West Virginia University to come up with the theory of the Sandhill Crane being responsible for sightings of the mystery beast.

Let's take a look at the Sandhill Crane. Adult male Sandhill Cranes grow up to 1.2 meters (3.94 ft) tall and have a wingspan of up to 2 meters (6.56 ft). They are comparable to the average 7-year-old child. So not an exact match for the 7-foot tall muscular humanoid with a 10-foot wingspan.

Newell Partridge lived roughly 100 miles (160.93 kilometers) north of Point Pleasant. He blames Mothman for the disappearance of his German Shepherd named Bandit.

According to Newell, he saw the creature in a meadow near his home roughly 90 minutes before the sighting at the TNT Area. We already know that the Mothman can fly over 100 mph (160.93 km/h), so it's close enough.

Newell and Bandit were watching TV when strange patterns appeared on his screen. He claimed the TV was “acting like a generator”. At the same time, Bandit started freaking out. Partridge exited his home with Bandit.

He shone a flashlight into the field and saw a tall figure with “eyes like red reflectors”. Bandit's hackles rose, and he charged into the field after the creature. Newell was too terrified to pursue his pup, and Bandit was never seen or heard from again.

There was a flurry of activity over the course of the next year. Hundreds of people rushed to the TNT Area in the hopes of catching a glimpse of the elusive Mothman. It all came to a head on 15 December 1967.

The Silver Bridge Collapse

The Silver Bridge was built in 1928. It connected Point Pleasant, West Virginia, to Kanauga, OH. The bridge was named after the aluminum colored paint used after its completion.

Bridges are built to withstand the stresses of its time. The Silver Bridge wasn't designed for the heavier vehicles of the late 60s. During rush hour on 15 December 1967, a faulty eye-bar joint and a dodgy weld failed. The collapse took seconds, and resulted in the death of 46 people, and injuring 9.

Vehicles, bodies, and gift-wrapped Christmas presents were all swallowed by the Ohio River.

Some eyewitnesses of the collapse claimed to see the Mothman atop the bridge moments before the collapse. Following the collapse of the Silver Bridge, sightings of Mothman abruptly ended.

Was it trying to warn the people of Point Pleasant, or did it cause the collapse?

John Keel, and his investigation into the Mothman phenomenon, is where we'll begin for part 2.