What constitutes a great American myth? Is it something where a Google search can’t help you find its origins? Maybe it’s something that permeates the minds of the inflicted and the communities that are built from them. It could be something that shows up time and time again and lingers around, jostling the memories of the people who first experienced it out of unknown origins.
The Mothman is one of those modern myths. It was first documented in the late 1960s. While it seems to have its origins in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, the Mothman has been spotted in numerous states. There are some who believe that spotting this creature warns of cataclysmic events to come, while others believe it is some type of alien life form with connections to Men in Black and UFOs. Then there are those who just claim it to be a hoax or a product of mass hysteria.
No matter what it is, the Mothman has continued to pop up, and it is one of the most intriguing American folklore stories. Let’s take a look at how this creature saw its start.
As mentioned, the first Mothman appearance was in Point Pleasant, West Virginia in 1966. On November 12th, five men from nearby Clendenin were digging a grave when they saw a shadowy, man-like figure fly over their heads from a tree. On November 15th, three days later, two young couples Steve and Mary Mallette, and Roger and Linda Scarberry, told the police that they had been chased in their car by a black figure with a 10-foot wingspan and glowing red eyes. This occurred new Point Pleasant as well, as the World War II munitions site called “TNT Area.”
Over the next year, more reports of this mysterious creature rolled in. This thing was first mentioned in the newspaper Point Pleasant Register on November 16, 1966, and was headlined “Couples See Man-Sized Bird… Creature… Something.” Later on, an Ohio newspaper copy editor dubbed the creature “Mothman.”
The locals believed that this creature lived in a vacant nuclear power plant that was located on the outskirts of town, in what used to be a top-secret government facility where they tested nuclear weapons. Could Mothman have been the product of government tampering? Was he some winged manifestation of weapons testing? Imaginations started to run wild as this legend was created.