In the mid-60s, a tiny town on the western edge of West Virginia was the site of a series of bizarre encounters with a strange creature that many believe wasn't of this world. While the origins of this monster, what it wanted, and where it went are still up for debate, there's one thing that everyone is certain of - the Mothman left a lasting mark on Point Pleasant. The impact that the terrifying sightings had are felt even to this day, from the yearly festival celebrating the beast, down the menacing statue of the creature placed smack in the middle of town.
Since his first appearance in the mid 60s, the tale of the Mothman has become an iconic piece of American folklore, and an even bigger part of the community that was at the center of the unsolved mystery. For those not familiar with the beast, or the havoc he wrought on Point Pleasant during a year-long nightmare, here’s a quick history lesson.
The first widely-circulated sighting of the Mothman occurred during the month of November in 1966, when a group of five men digging graves in nearby Clendenin, West Virginia claimed to have spotted a large humanoid flying low over a patch of trees. Days later, the same bizarre creature would again be spotted, this time by Roger and Linda Scarberry and Steve and Mary Mallette of Point Pleasant. The description that the couples gave to the police that evening would go on to become the most iconic imagery of the Mothman to date: As they drove home, they witnessed a large flying man, with massive wings spanning ten feet, and eyes that glowed red. Much to the couples’ horror, the strange creature began following their vehicle down the winding, desolate West Virginia backroads. Just as they pulled into town, the beast disappeared back into the night.
Over the next few weeks, the monster was spotted by numerous locals who all described the same beast. On December 15th, 1967, around a year since his first appearance, the Mothman was spotted for the last time perched high on the Silver Bridge, moments before the structure collapsed in the midst of rush-hour traffic. The devastating tragedy killed 46 people and has left many believers wondering if the Mothman’s presence was no coincidence at all. Some believe that the Mothman was a harbinger of doom.
Since the accident, sightings of the Mothman have continued to grow in number, but none so compelling as the ones which occurred in Point Pleasant in the mid-60s. In 2002, the story was even made into a feature length film starring Richard Gere. "The Mothman Prophecies" wasn’t a terrible film by any means, but to the residents of Point Pleasant, it was a boon. The bizarre tale, no matter how it was heard, has turned the horrific creature and the town it terrorized into a mecca for those of us still fascinated with a paranormal mystery.
When you arrive in town and pose to snap a few photos in front of the town’s 12-foot-tall Mothman Statue, the locals smile and wave (and do a bit of eye-rolling, I’m sure). The plaque tells the story of the original Mothman sightings, and it makes for one heck of a weird photo op.
Be sure to spend some time at the official The Mothman Museum, now in a brand new location right beside the statue, where you can pour over an assortment of relics from the 1960s sightings, as well as loads of props from The Mothman Prophecies. This is the best place to get a detailed description of the creature, where to find him, and of his supposed role in the bridge collapse. The Mothman clearly plays a huge part in Point Pleasant's history.
Once you've worked up a monstrous (pun intended) appetite, walk about a block to the Harris Steakhouse, affectionately known as the Mothman Diner, where Carolyn Harris has been serving up delicious homestyle food to the locals since 1969. The walls are adorned with crayon drawings of the infamous Mothman, and if the place isn't packed, Carolyn is happy to sit down and recount the spine-tingling tales of her own encounters with the creature. You absolutely need to try the Mothman Burger.
If you're planning on spending the night, your best option is The Historic Lowe Hotel. You won't find massive widescreen televisions and a state-of-the-art gymnasium here, but you will discover a charming old-time hotel that guests say is teeming with ghosts. Be sure to request room 314, allegedly the most haunted room in the whole building, where a "tall, gaunt man" believed to be Sid Hatfield (of Hatfield vs. McCoy infamy) has been terrifying guests for nearly a century.
Now, you could easily cap your evening off with an evening stroll by the river, where you can see the beautiful mural along the flood wall and pay your respects at the site of the original Silver Bridge collapse, but why end the night there? The grand finale lies just a few miles down the road in the middle of the woods at the abandoned military storage bunkers. You could visit the old bunkers during daylight hours, but take it from us - this adventure is one that should be pursued like all scary stories: in the middle of night, while a dense fog rolls through the rural hills. Trekking out into the woods in search of the entrance to the one ammunitions storage dome left unsealed is an admittedly terrifying experience, but it's one you won't soon forget... especially if you manage to meet the legendary creature you've been seeking.
For some, the origins of the Mothman lie in the 18th century. In 1774, the settler militia of Virginia (because back then, West Virginia was still part of Virginia) fought the Battle of Point Pleasant against the Shawnee Chief Cornstalk. The militia victory allowed the settlers in western Virginia to cross the Allegheny Mountains to fight for American Independence and weakened the alliance between the Native Americans and the British.
After the battle, Chief Cornstalk managed to keep the tense relationship between his tribe and the settlers somewhat friendly, until he was taken hostage by American soldiers to bargain with the tribes: As long as the soldiers had Cornstalk, they could trust that his men wouldn't join the British against the Americans. However, some other men being held with Cornstalk decided to escape, and the soldiers killed Cornstalk as revenge. As the story goes, Cornstalk placed a curse on the settlers of Point Pleasant with his dying breath... and some believe that the Mothman is the embodiment of Cornstalk's curse.
Even if you don't encounter the Mothman on your trip to Point Pleasant, you'll no doubt still find yourself charmed by the friendly, small-town atmosphere of Point Pleasant. For an added bonus to the fun of searching for the Mothman, visit during their annual Mothman Festival. It takes place in late September and features talks and lectures, vendors, and Mothman-shaped pancakes. It draws an awesome crowd of locals and Mothman enthusiasts from near and far, and it's always an interesting and unforgettable time!