Folklore Friday: The Mothman and The Men in Black
One unforgettable thing I did in 2018 was that I finally made the great trek to The Mothman Festival in Point Pleasant, WV. Now, if you're wondering what the heck I'm talking about, it's cryptids. I'm talking about American folklore, the cousin of Bigfoot, the monster under your bed--all that juicy stuff.
Mothman was first seen on November 12, 1966. Five men were in a cemetery, digging a grave when they saw a brown winged creature lifting off from the trees--but it wasn't a bird. The said it was huge, and vaguely humanlike.
Then, just three days later, on November 15, 1966, two young couples from Point Pleasant--Roger and Linda Scarberry and Steve and Mary Mallette--saw it again. They were driving by the old West Virginia Ordnance Works, an area often referred to as the "TNT Area." It dates back to World War II and is an abandoned munitions to the north of Point Pleasant, West Virginia. It's a labyrinth of underground tunnels and above ground "igloos" and fields.
In 1979, fishermen reported chemicals in the ponds, and it was labeled an environmental disaster. By 1983, the TNT Area was considered one of the most polluted sites in the country.
And so, as the couples drove through the area around midnight, Linda Scarberry noticed, two large, glowing red eyes in near the old North Power Plant. They described the creature as somewhat human, grey, about 7 feet tall, and with wings folded against its back. Roger Scarberry stalled in the road for a minute, so they could get a better look. Then the creature spread its "10-foot wings" and began chasing them down Highway 62 to the Point Pleasant city limits at speeds exceeding 100 mph.
Back in town, the horrified couples decided to park and plan their next move. The creature was no where in sight and they needed to debrief. They decided to agree it was just a bird and go back for another look. They drove back to the TNT Area and almost immediately saw the beast, waiting beside Route 62. The shone the headlights on the creature and it immediately lifted vertically into the air with tremendous speed until it was out of sight.
This time when they arrived back into town, they went to the Mason county courthouse and told their story to Sheriff George Johnson and Deputy Miller Hallsted. Two hours later, City Police began investigating the area, but couldn't find any proof. The next day, a press conference was held and others came forward with previous sightings. The November 16th issue of the Point Pleasant Register, featured an article on the event with the headline "Couple Sees Man-Sized Bird...Creature...Something."
Over the next 13 months, there were over 100 sightings--though not everyone came forward. Many were harassed by The Men in Black--and no not the Will Smith kind. These Men in Black were terrifying, wrong somehow. There's nothing funny about them. They're unsettling and clearly not human. But they show up on the doorsteps of those who have witnessed UFOs or other paranormal events and harass them into silence. They were black suits, usually travel in a group of three, and drive black cars. Some argue they're government agents. Some insist THEY are aliens themselves. One consensus is that they are not friendly and not someone you ever want to meet.
Mason County Sheriff George Johnson said he believed the sightings were actually of an unusually large heron. Wildlife biologist Dr. Robert L. Smith at West Virginia University told reporters that the descriptions all fit the sandhill crane, a large bird almost as tall as a man, with a seven-foot wingspan, and red colored circles around the eyes. He suggested that people didn't identify it right away because it wasn't native to the area.
In the end, everything seemed to culminate with the collapse of The Silver Bridge on December 15, 1967. The collapse resulted in the deaths of 46 people. Two of the victims were never even found.
Afterwards people questioned if the Mothman was the one who caused the accident or if it were rather a warning.
Creatures that appear to be Mothman or something eerily similar have been reported near other disasters as well. In one case, it was a mine in Freiburg, Germany, where a Mothman-like creature scared miners away just before the mine collapsed. One was also seen at Chernobyl before the infamous nuclear meltdown. There were even some Mothman pictures taken in New York on 9/11.
So what do you think of it? Friend or foe?
For further reading, check out this episode of one of my favorite shows--Unsolved Mysteries:
And this solid podcast breakdown in three parts from Last Podcast on the Left (they're a little inappropriate at times, but overall go over a lot of important information/theories):