The origins of the moth man
The world today is filled with many stories of mythical beings and legends both ancient and modern. One of such mythical beings is the legendary mothman whose debut on the paranormal stage created a new wave of hysteria and transformed a quiet little town into a mine field of paranormal activity and tourist attraction.
It all started on the 15th of November, 1966. Five men digging a grave at the cemetery of Point pleasant, West Virginia reported to have seen a large bird like creature fly swiftly over their heads. Later the same day, young couples Roger and Linda Scarberry and Steve and Mary Mallet rushed to law enforcement to report sightings of a large man like creature with over seven foot wings and red glowing eyes at the TNT area. The creature had chased the couples’ car down the road before flying off into the night. Within the span of a few months, the number of sightings significantly increased from over 50 to more than a 100 spanning all over West Virginia. The local newspaper The Point Pleasant register published an article on the strange creature titled ‘Couples see man sized bird… creature… something’.
Okay, now that was just the beginning, you can guess what happened next. The sightings soon gained much publicity to the extent that the area virtually became a tourist attraction. Before getting to that part, let’s find out what caused the growth in publicity.
Firstly, the creature had to have a name…
Some months after the first sightings, the creature was given the name Mothman by an Ohio newspaper copy editor. It was based on a quite similar comic book character, Batman. The name stuck and has since been used to identify the creature.
The mothman goes viral…
In 1967, the Silver Bridge collapsed due to defects in a single eye bar of the bridge’s suspension chain. Experts also believed that this was due to poor maintenance and being subjected to loads heavier than that which it was designed to carry. You might be wondering how all these stuff concerns the mothman. Well, later on, paranormal author and investigator John Keel published a book Prophesies of the Mothman. The book linked the collapse of the bridge to sightings of the mothman moments before the disaster thus blaming the collapse on the mothman. His book was a big hit leading many conspiracy theorists and UFOlogists to the town. Most of them would come up with the craziest of theories about the mothman. Some theorized that the mothman was actually the cause of history’s most gruesome disasters. They claimed that he had been spotted in Chernobyl, Russia moments before the nuclear disaster occurred. Some also went as far as linking him to the 9/11 attacks on the world trade center. Some UFOlogists believe the creature to be an extra terrestrial or some mutated bird tested on by the government. They support their claims with the said visit of the speculated Men In Black to first hand witnesses. The mothman is believed to reside in an old nuclear plant on the Outskirts of the town which is also believed to be a secret government facility.
The Point Pleasant area soon became a tourist attraction and in 2002 the first Moth man festival was launched. The festival is attended by 10-12 thousand people annually every third weekend of September. The mothman had become a modern legend. In 2005, a statue of the mothman was unveiled together with a mothman museum and research center. There have also been petitions to replace confederate statues with moth man statues and the petitions have obtained over 2000 signatures by 2020.
Is there any explanation for the mothman phenomena?
Yes, tons of them. The existence of a mothman has strongly been dismissed by experts. Local scientists at the time described what the couples saw as a large heron whose eyes glowed bright red when lights were flashed on in in the dark. A more explicit explanation came from Dr. Robert L Smith from the West Virginia University. He stated that people were obviously seeing a Sandhill crane, a large migratory bird with a wing span of about 10 feet and large red circular spots on the eyes. The bird often left its migratory path and ended up in the town and as it was not native to the area, locals who couldn’t identify it (mostly at night) termed it as the mythical creature. Between 2002 and 2005, 28 Sandhill cranes were found around the area thus supporting Dr. Robert’s theory. Another possible culprit could be the owl. Owls have eyes which glow bright red in the dark especially when a light is flashed at them. Some also have very large wing spans attributing to the said night time illusions of a shadowy figure with wings.
Perhaps, the most obvious reason is mass hysteria. In such condition, a person or group of persons see things which they cannot explain, they tell others and soon everyone starts seeing the same illusion. It is a well known fact that our brains are limitless in the ability to trick itself. Mass hysteria is attributed to be the cause of the birth of many legends and the mothman is probably one of such.
Despite all these evidence , the number of believers in the moth man has grown since over the years making the mystery of the mothman one of the greatest legends in American history.
Attribution: The featured image in this post was gotten from WikiMedia Commons.