West Virginia Urban Legends: Mothman


Statue of Mothman in Point Pleasant, WV.

Abigail Woolard, Staff Writer

Legends can be made up, or they can be based on the truth. In my opinion, stories based on true events are better because of their connection to real-life sounds or sightings of things that go bump in the dark. Bone-chilling stories exist all over the world, but one urban legend that has always grabbed my attention is closer to home–the Mothman legend of Point Pleasant, West Virginia.  Some people say the Mothman was created in a military lab to be used in warfare, while others believe he was just a bird mutated by runoff from a nuclear power plant. Either way, he is one of the scariest West Virginia legends we have!

The first Mothman sighting was in 1966. Two gravediggers working in a cemetery late one night described seeing a black 10-foot tall creature fly right over them. They didn’t know it at the time, but they were the first ones to ever spot Mothman.

According to the legend, Mothman is a 10-foot tall creature with red eyes and wings, much as the gravediggers described. After the cemetery incident, a couple from Point Pleasant was driving west of Clendenin, and claimed to see Mothman in the middle of the road. One of the most famous sightings of Mothman, however, was on December 15, 1967, when locals claimed to see him fly over then sit on top of Point Pleasant’s famous Silver Bridge. The Silver Bridge was a suspension bridge that hung 102 feet above the Ohio river and connected Point Pleasant and Gallipolis, Ohio. Not long after the Mothman was seen at the Silver Bridge, it collapsed and killed 46 people!  After a thorough investigation, it was determined that a crack in one of the suspension chains caused the tragedy. 

Ever since then, people have claimed to see Mothman before tragic, natural calamities such as  earthquakes, tsunamis, and even the 9/11 terrorist attack. West Virginians are often split on their opinion of the intentions of the Mothman. Some believe he is merely a warning sign of impending carnage, while others view him as an evil spirit that actually causes the disasters. Although there is no proof of him causing these phenomena, there are always rumors.

What do you believe? Do you think Mothman causes these horrific events? Or is he trying to warn us of something terrible to come?