One of the more fascinating paranormal events that have occurred in the United States is the famous sightings of a creature commonly referred to as the Mothman. The sightings of the Mothman occurred generally between November 1966 to December 1967 near Point Pleasant in West Virginia. During this time, hundreds of people claimed to have seen a bizarre creature that was the size of a man, but had wings more like a moth or insect and fiery red eyes.
The sightings culminated with the collapse of the Silver Bridge on December 15th, 1967 which killed 46 people. No further sightings of the Mothman happened after that event, which gave rise to the belief that they were somehow connected. The sightings, along with the collapse of the bridge lead to the famous John Keel book The Mothman Prophecies in 1975 which gave the accounts national attention. The events were further immortalized in the 2002 film, The Mothman Prophecies which starred Richard Gere and the events of the film were based on the book.
The sightings of the Mothman began on November 15th, 1966 when two couples from Point Pleasant saw a large, white creature with glowing red eyes that followed their car while driving near a former munitions plant. Over the course of the next several months, more people sighted a similar creature. Two volunteer firemen spoke of seeing a large, birdlike creature also with red eyes.
The sightings and their connection to the collapse of the Silver Bridge were generally unknown nationally until 1970 when Gray Barker, a noted writer who often featured paranormal activities and UFO sightings in books and articles wrote a book about the Mothman sightings in West Virginia called The Silver Bridge. Other researchers, including UFOlogist Jerome Clark have done research showing that hundreds of people had sighted the Mothman, whose appearance while frightening, was never threatening as if it was trying to communicate rather than attack.
There are those who claim that Mothman sightings continue, especially at sights of great tragedy such as the attack on the World Trade Center buildings in 2001 where there were some reports of a “flying man” spotted shortly after the attack. Such sightings tend to be rare and are not generally associated with the events in West Virginia back in 1966 and 1967.
Today, the Mothman has been celebrated in a sense, a statue bearing his likeness currently stands in Point Pleasant and a festival in his honor is held every third weekend in September, which includes various festival events such as guest speakers, vendors and even hayrides.
Skeptics point out that while the validity of the witnesses and their sightings are not questioned, they do point out that the creature they saw does bear a resemblance to Sandhill Crane, which is a rare, but large crane that stands nearly five feet tall with a large wingspan and had reddish eyes. Such a bird may have wandered away from its normal migratory route and may have been responsible for some of the sightings.