Mothman was the name given to a strange creature sighted multiple times in the Point Pleasant area of West Virginia, on the border with Ohio between November 1966 and November 1967. Several observers described the creature as a man-sized beast with wings.
Skeptics have argued (notably in the March/April 2002 issue of the magazine Skeptical Inquirer) that the most likely explanation of the sightings is excited eyewitnesses mistaking a barn owl.
The largest collection of material about Mothman is found in John Keel's 1976 book The Mothman Prophecies, in which Keel lays out the chronology of Mothman and what he claims to be related parapsychological events in the area, including but not limited to UFO activity, Men in Black encounters, poltergeist activity, and the December 5, 1967 collapse of the Silver Bridge across the Ohio River, from Point Pleasant to Gallipolis, Ohio. The book was the basis of a 2002 movie starring Richard Gere, directed by Mark Pellington.
The Mothman creature, so named by the press because of the Batman TV series which was popular at the time, was first sighted November 12, 1966 by a group of five men preparing a grave in a cemetery close to Clendenin, West Virginia, when what they described as a "brown human shape with wings" lifted off from behind nearby trees and flew over their heads.
Late at night on November 15, two young married couples from Point Pleasant, Roger and Linda Scarberry and Steve and Mary Mallette, were out for a drive in the Scarberrys' car, and were driving near a World War II TNT factory about seven miles outside of Point Pleasant, in the 2500 acre McClintic Wildlife Station, when they spotted two red lights in the shadow by an old generator plant near the gate of the factory. They stopped the car, and were startled to see that the lights were the glowing red eyes of a large animal, "shaped like a man, but bigger, maybe six and a half or seven feet tall, with big wings folded against its back", according to Roger Scarberry. Terrified, the couples took off in their car, headed for Route 62. Going at high speed down the exit road, they saw the creature again, standing on ridge near the road, spreading its wings and taking off straight up into the air, following their car all the way to the city limits. The panicked foursome went straight to the Mason County courthouse and told their story to Deputy Millard Halstead, who later said "I've known these kids all their lives. They'd never been in any trouble and they were really scared that night. I took them seriously." He followed Roger Scarberry's car back to the TNT area, but found no sign of the strange creature.
The next night, November 16, while the local townspeople, heavily armed, were searching the area around the old TNT plant for signs of Mothman, Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Wamsley and Mrs. Marcella Bennett with her baby daughter Teena were in a car on their way to visit their friends, Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Thomas, who lived in a bungalow among the "igloos", concrete dome-shaped structures erected for explosives storage during WWII, close to the TNT plant. The igloos were now empty, some owned by the county, some by companies intending to use them for storage. However, only three of the Thomas children were at home, and they were headed back to their car when a figure appeared behind their parked car. Mrs. Bennett said it seemed like it had been lying down, slowly rising up from the ground, large and gray, with glowing red eyes. Mrs. Bennett was so afraid that she dropped her baby, standing transfixed until Raymond Wamsley grabbed her and the child, ushering them into the house, where they slammed and bolted the door. While Wamsley phoned the police, the creature walked onto the porch and peered in through the window at them.
The creature was seen again on November 24, this time by four people, who saw it flying through the air over the TNT area, and then again in the morning of November 25, by Thomas Ury, who was driving along Route 62 north of the TNT, who said he saw the creature standing in a field by the road, then suddenly spreading its wings and taking off, following his car as he sped into Point Pleasant to report it to the sheriff.
On November 26, Mrs. Ruth Foster of the St. Albans suburb of Charleston, West Virginia saw Mothman standing on her front lawn, but it was gone when her brother-in-law went out to look. On the morning of the 27thth, it pursued a young woman near Mason, West Virginia, and was seen again in St. Albans the same night, by two children.
References and sources: