On November 12, , five men who were digging a grave at a cemetery near Clendenin, West Virginia , claimed to have seen a man-like figure fly low from the trees over their heads.
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Shortly thereafter, on November 15, , two young couples from Point Pleasant, Roger and Linda Scarberry and Steve and Mary Mallette, told police they saw a large grey creature whose eyes "glowed red" when the car's headlights picked it up. They described it as a "large flying man with ten-foot wings", following their car while they were driving in an area outside of town known as "the TNT area ", the site of a former World War II munitions plant.
During the next few days, other people reported similar sightings. Two volunteer firemen who saw it said it was a "large bird with red eyes". Mason County Sheriff George Johnson commented that he believed the sightings were due to an unusually large heron he termed a "shitepoke". Contractor Newell Partridge told Johnson that when he aimed a flashlight at a creature in a nearby field its eyes glowed "like bicycle reflectors", and blamed buzzing noises from his television set and the disappearance of his German Shepherd dog on the creature.
Robert L. Smith at West Virginia University told reporters that descriptions and sightings all fit the sandhill crane , a large American crane almost as high as a man with a seven-foot wingspan featuring circles of reddish coloring around the eyes, and that the bird may have wandered out of its migration route. This particular crane was unrecognized at first because it was not native to this region.
After the December 15, collapse of the Silver Bridge and the death of 46 people,  the incident gave rise to the legend and connected the Mothman sightings to the bridge collapse. The Mothman Prophecies is a major motion picture, loosely based on the book of the same name by John Keel.
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Hill proposed that the photo showed "a bird, perhaps an owl, carrying a frog or snake away" and wrote that "there is zero reason to suspect it is the Mothman as described in legend. There are too many far more reasonable explanations. Folklorist Jan Harold Brunvand notes that Mothman has been widely covered in the popular press, some claiming sightings connected with UFOs, and others claiming that a military storage site was Mothman's "home". Brunvand notes that recountings of the Mothman reports usually state that at least people saw Mothman with many more "afraid to report their sightings" but observed that written sources for such stories consisted of children's books or sensationalized or undocumented accounts that fail to quote identifiable persons.
Brunvand found elements in common among many Mothman reports and much older folk tales, suggesting that something real may have triggered the scares and became woven with existing folklore. He also records anecdotal tales of Mothman supposedly attacking the roofs of parked cars occupied by teenagers.
Conversely, Joe Nickell says that a number of hoaxes followed the publicity generated by the original reports, such as a group of construction workers who tied flashlights to helium balloons. Nickell attributes the Mothman reports to pranks, misidentified planes, and sightings of a barred owl , an albino owl , suggesting that the Mothman's "glowing eyes" were actually red-eye effect caused from the reflection of light from flashlights or other bright light sources.
BOOK REVIEW: "The Mothman Prophecies" by John A. Keel
According to University of Chicago psychologist David A. Some pseudoscience adherents such as ufologists , paranormal authors, and cryptozoologists claim that Mothman was an alien , a supernatural manifestation, or a previously unknown species of animal. In his book The Mothman Prophecies , author John Keel claimed that the Point Pleasant residents experienced precognitions including premonitions of the collapse of the Silver Bridge, unidentified flying object sightings, visits from inhuman or threatening men in black , and other phenomena. Point Pleasant held its first Annual Mothman Festival in and a foot-tall metallic statue of the creature, created by artist and sculptor Bob Roach, was unveiled in There is a variety of events that go on during the festival such as guest speakers, vendor exhibits, a mothman pancake eating contest, and hayride tours focusing on the notable areas of Point Pleasant.
Media related to Mothman at Wikimedia Commons. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For other uses, see Mothman disambiguation. I'm speaking of the collapse of the Silver Bridge. It was built in using a steel eye-bar design, innovative at the time. On the evening of December 15, , one of the eye-bar connections failed due to a minute manufacturing defect exacerbated by stress and corrosion.
The resulting bridge collapse killed 46 people. Suddenly, the people of Point Pleasant had far more grave and serious matters to deal with than Mothman sightings. Interest in the otherworldly visitor vanished almost instantly. The mania had passed. It was only several years later that UFOlogists and paranormal experts started drawing connections between Mothman and the bridge collapse.
Suddenly, there were reports of Mothman flitting about the bridge days or even moments before the collapse I also find hilarious the reports of Mothman sightings before the IW bridge collapse in — I guess Mothman is a frustrated civil engineer?
The Mothman of Point Pleasant () - IMDb
Stranger still were stories of Mothman trying to communicate with people, and unearthly encounters with a man calling himself Indrid Cold who looked odd and spoke as if unfamiliar with basic human concepts. How did a simple story of a red-eyed flying beast get so elaborate? That is the stuff legends are made of — in this case, quite literally. The elaboration and popularization of the Mothman story is primarily the responsibility of two men: John Keel and Gray Barker. Most people know about Mothman from Keel's book, The Mothman Prophecies , upon which the film is based.
In that volume, Keel outlined his own investigations around the Point Pleasant area, blended with accounts from various witnesses of Mothman related phenomena. Keel managed to graft himself into the Mothman story, describing weird phone calls and mysterious visits while he was performing his investigations. He crafted a far-flung, imaginative tale of government conspiracy, beings from other dimensions, creepy men in black trying to suppress Mothman witnesses, with Mothman flying above it all as an avatar of disaster and tragedy.
The Mothman Prophecies was not the first book to inflate the Mothman legend, however. The Silver Bridge was the book that first connected Mothman to the bridge collapse and first wove an aura of tertiary paranormal phenomena around the Mothman story. Gray's book had a short publishing run and was not widely known at the time. Through letters published in , it became apparent that Keel and Barker were well aware of each other in the 60s and 70s. At first they talked of collaborating, but there seemed to be some disagreement and the relationship devolved to antipathy.
The whole incident was quite bizarre, involving the two authors accusing each other of being androids in league with the MiBs.
Seriously, that actually happened. But the most telling part is that The Mothman Prophecies was not the first time Keel had written about Mothman. This wide-ranging work mentioned the Mothman story, but stuck to the basic facts of the few recorded encounters. Indeed, he seemed to be refuting Barker's claims and directly contradicting the theory Keel would himself publish five years later , saying: "It is completely erroneous to blame the collapse of the rickety old Silver Bridge on flying saucers or 'Men In Black.
Somehow, in five years, Keel went from a plain denial of any Mothman-Silver Bridge connection to one of the most elaborate and bizarre cryptid tales ever told, with himself as a central character.
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The clues to what sparked the change come, again, from the published letters of Keel and Barker. To put it bluntly, in much of their paranormal and UFO writing they were "taking the piss. I lost the 'sensible' subscribers…long ago, so I get a kick out of letting it reflect the utter mental illness of the field.
So that was how they made their living. In an obituary for John Keel, skeptic and author Robert Scheaffer talked about meeting Keel, describing him as a "trickster. He once claimed, with no witnesses or evidence, that Mothman had attempted to carry off a Red Cross Bloodmobile. As Mothmen do. That leaves us with the smattering of Mothman sightings that have continued over the years — some even connected to Chernobyl!
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Legends take on lives of their own. The story lives on, conflated with local folklore the Curse of Chief Cornstalk , ancient religious figures guardian spirits known as garuda , and other cryptids pterodactyls and the Jersey Devil. Some people love a good story and want to play along. Some people want to sell books and Mothman festivals. And there will always be some people who see something they can't explain and make it into a Mothman.