The Mothman Mystery

On the 16th November 1966, a local newspaper published an article that brought terror to the residents of Point Pleasant, a small town in West Virginia Under the mysterious headline, ""Couples See Man-Sized Bird

CreatureSomething"", the newspaper reported eyewitness accounts of an otherworldly 7 foot tall, winged apparition, that was haunting local residents This creature became known as Mothman The first sighting of Mothman occurred just a few days before the article, when five gravediggers saw a man-like figure fly above them, screeching as it flapped above the trees Just a few nights later, two young couples reported to police that through the glow of their headlights they witnessed a large white creature with blazing red eyes, chase their car from above as they tried to out run it Sightings of Mothman continued to be reported for the next year and the theories of just who or what Mothman was became increasingly mysterious with each new encounter

Author John Keel interviewed Point Pleasant residents and reported that over the course of 1966-67, both he and residents of Point Pleasant experienced a host of bizarre phenomena influenced by the supernatural manifestations of Mothman Residents experienced prophecies, witnessed UFOs and were visited by inhuman, threatening men in black One supposed witness of Mothman, after claiming to have been confronted by it hundreds of times, revealed, ""it seems like it doesn’t want to hurt you It just wants to communicate with you” The increasingly terrifying influence of Mothman on Point Pleasant reached a deadly climax on the 15th December 1967, when the city’s Silver Bridge suddenly collapsed sending 46 people tumbling to their death, the worst loss of life from a bridge accident in American history

According to Keel, many of the victims were relatives of Mothman’s witnesses However, in the aftermath of this tragic incident Mothman was never seen again and the legend arose that Mothman appears as an omen before impending disasters During the 13 month period in which Mothman is thought to have terrorised the residents of Point Pleasant, over 200 people claimed to have been affected by a strange phenomenon Over one hundred people are said to have witnessed it, with many more rumoured to be too afraid to report their sightings John Kee believes that Mothman could have been an alien, reporting that his presence to the town was accompanied by mysterious energy fields, weird animal behaviours and technology failures

But Mothman hysteria may have been fuelled by high UFO paranoia in America at the time Not everyone is convinced that Point Pleasant was ever a vortex of paranormal activity Biologists have stated that the early descriptions of Mothman fit that of a heron, or the sandhill crane, a large bird with a 7ft wingspan and red colourings around its eyes Even more intriguing was the reported site of Mothman’s ‘home’ Many witnesses spotted Mothman around the site of a former World War II munitions plant, which had also been previously used as a bird sanctuary

This revelation has led to the disturbing theory that Mothman was a mutated bird, infected by the chemicals and radiation deposited in the area However, Folklorist Jan Harold Brunvand has suggested that the legend of Mothman is a mixture of myth and reality Whilst researching witness accounts of the cryptid, Brunvand found common elements among the reports, with older folk tales, suggesting that something real may have triggered the scares and became interwoven with existing folklore Whether or not there was ever any reality to the existence of Mothman, the legend now lives in popular culture Popularised by John Keel’s book and the 2002 film based on it, the mystery of Mothman is now happily embraced by the citizens of Point Pleasant

Since 2002 Point Pleasant has hosted an annual Mothman festival, with restaurants, shop windows and even a museum all celebrating their frightening folklore

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