Mythical Monday: In Search of the Mothman by Mae Clair

Recently, my husband and I took a trip to a small town in West Virginia called Point Pleasant. Our entire purpose for visiting was so that I could do research for a novel I intend to write drawing on the Mothman legend, UFOs and the Silver Bridge disaster of 1967.

It was a 6.5 hour drive, but thankfully, most of that was by scenic highway. Visiting the area, talking to some of the people who live there and experiencing the surroundings firsthand gave me a much a richer view than I would have found online or in books. I definitely owe hubby a trip of his choice for this one!

Point Pleasant is a riverfront town located on the confluence of the Ohio and Kanawha Rivers. Morning to night water traffic is steady with powerful riverboats pushing enormous barges of coal up and down the waterways.

barge

We found Main Street to be quaint but very old, positioned behind towering flood walls. On the opposite side of those walls lies a picturesque riverfront park with walking trails, spots for fishing, a large pavilion, open amphitheater and – most unique of all – endless hand-painted murals depicting the town’s history beginning in the early 1700s when it was a settler outpost.

muralsmurals2

The first night we were there a duo of musicians with steel stringed instruments set up in the amphitheater and we lingered to enjoy the concert.  I was shocked more people weren’t crowded about. The park was never busy, no matter when we visited. When there isn’t live entertainment, music is piped throughout by speakers mounted on the floodwalls. Talk about a place for a writer to linger!

singers

theater

But, my main purpose for being there was to learn more about the Silver Bridge disaster and the Mothman. The original Silver Bridge collapsed into the icy waters of the Ohio River on December 15, 1967 during heavy rush hour traffic, claiming forty-six lives. Later analysis showed it was carrying much heavier loads than it was designed to sustain and had been poorly maintained.

Many, however, believe the Mothman — a giant humanoid winged creature with glowing red eyes, spotted numerous times in the Point Plesant area beginning in November of 1966 — was somehow tied to the bridge collapse. Some believe him a malevolent form, others that he was attempting to warn the town of impending disaster. Whichever account you favor, it’s undeniable that after the Silver Bridge fell, sightings of the Mothman dwindled then ceased altogether. Coincidence?

According to legend, the town of Point Pleasant was originally cursed by a Shawnee Indian Chief named Cornstalk in the years preceding the American Revolution. Once at war with the white man, Cornstalk eventually made peace and became a friend of the settlers. Through trickery and deceit, he and his son were unjustly imprisoned and murdered. It’s said that with his dying breath, Cornstalk condemned the region and its people down through the ages. Some believe the Mothman is an extension of that curse.

Although there were numerous credible eyewitness reports of “the bird” (as he was originally dubbed locally), the legend of the Mothman didn’t truly take wing until 1975 when John Keel wrote a New York Times best-seller about the events. THE MOTHMAN PROPHECIES  was later made into a movie in 2002, starring Richard Gere.

Having read the book, devoured the movie, and engaged in extensive online research — including much related to the Silver Bridge disaster – I was eager to discover the area myself. Did the Mothman still roam the skies of Point Pleasant?

Please join me next week as hubby and I set out in pursuit of this elusive urban legend, venturing into the remote “TNT Area,” said to be the site of an old Indian burial ground. Ghost hunters frequently visit the region, and it was featured on A&E’s Paranormal State.

Legend has it that even George Washington recorded “strange sightings” in his early surveys of the area and, if viewed by satellite, the region is “blurred out” in the same manner as Area 51.

Next week on Mythical Monday, I’ll be share my own experiences in this isolated region as my Mothman search continues! I hope you’ll join me  for the conclusion of my two-part blog.

msearchteam

29 thoughts on “Mythical Monday: In Search of the Mothman by Mae Clair

  1. Okay you got me hook, line, and sinker! I can’t wait for part two. I’ve always wondered about the Mothman and the possible Native American connection…

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    • It was such a fantastic trip, Debbie. I’ve never gone on a research hunt before. I learned about the oddities in George Washington’s surveys from the owner of one of the stores in Point Pleasant. I really want to look into that and see what he wrote about. That would have actually been before the incident with Chief Cornstalk. From what I’ve gathered, that area of West Virginia, part of Pennsylvania and part of Ohio are in a “triangle of weirdness.” Naturally, I’m hooked on learning more!

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  2. Eeek! I want to come back and read more, but I’m skeered. LOL I love that you got to go on a research trip. It makes writing even more fun when you’ve had a chance to see things firsthand and up close. Okay, I think I’ve talked myself into coming back to see your other posts. *covers eyes and peeks through fingers* 🙂

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    • LOL! There is no question the TNT area is disturbing, but we were there in the daylight (more on that next week). Doing a research trip was a complete blast. Something I would definitely do again (assuming I can convince hubs!)

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  3. Those murals are gorgeous.
    Great post, Mae. Looking forward to next week’s. Visiting the place will really get you going on writing the book. Stephenie Meyer visited the town of Forks to get a feel for the setting in Twilight.
    Ha ha, love the cap!

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    • Aren’t the murals something? They stretch up and down the entire park.

      I had no idea about Stephenie Meyer and Forks (heck, I thought it was fictional, LOL). I have been jotting notes like crazy about the book since I got back. The problem is I’ve got two other (short) writing projects ahead of it, which is frustrating. I’m going to try to juggle all of them!

      Glad you liked the hat. Now if I could only find a matching t-shirt! 🙂

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      • Good luck with the matching t-shirt. Maybe you’ll wear that for next week’s post. 😉
        You’re very good for sticking to your writing projects. I have a tendency to veer off when I get a new idea!

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  4. Mae – There’s nothing like ‘on scene research’ for bringing authenticity to your writing. I’m currently reading Jodi Picoult’s latest novel and every sentence sparkles with life and I believe it’s due to the depth of first hand research she puts into every novel she writes. I’m eager to learn if the ‘locals’ are eager to talk with you about Moth Man.

    I’m certain you are aware that 1 of every 9 bridges in the United States is ripe for failure at any moment. DOT is more interested in funding new construction instead of repairing what we already have. Head of DOT, Department of Highway Safety said it’s sexy to build new roads instead of repairing old bridges! Hope he doesn’t take a dunk in a river anytime soon.

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    • PA is riddled with bridges in need of repair, Sheri, as I guess the whole country is. We’re a big state, so the amount of bridges is huge. In the case of the Silver Bridge in Point Pleasant, it was an eye-bar suspension bridge built in 1927. It was determined that a single link in the chain gave way which caused the whole bridge to fail. Such a tragedy!

      As for research, I would love to undertake a trip again. It really makes a difference in perspective.

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  5. The locals that did not encounter the Mothman are willing to speak. Those that did are considerably less willing. I speak as a born and raised Point Pleasant girl 🙂

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    • Hi, Niki. I’m honored you stopped by to read my post. It’s a pleasure to have you here. I certainly understand the reluctance of the people who were involved with those sightings to open themselves to strangers. It was wonderful that so many of them trusted John Keel.

      I found your town a pleasure, especially the riverfront park. More than anything, thinking about the tragedy of the Silver Bridge made me ponder how hard it must have been for the town to recover. I’m sure it’s a close community. At least that was the impression I got.

      Many thanks again for commenting! It was fantastic to have the perspective of someone born and raised in Point Pleasant. 🙂

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      • When I was in 6th grade, an assignment was to write a book on a topic and I picked the Silver Bridge collapse. It was fascinating to research! I am a teacher, but have never given up my dream of becoming an author. I love my hometown and it has a rich history. Much luck to you 🙂 My mom works for the development authority in downtown Point Pleasant. Stop by and see them on your next trip!

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      • I just ordered two historical perspective books from Amazon, one on the town and one on the Silver Bridge. From the small amount of research I’ve already done I’ve learned so much! How cool that your Mom works for the development authority!

        I have that same dream of writing full-time. Much luck to you as well. Writing is a great dream to chase! 🙂

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    • LOL! Originally I was going to make everything one post but realized it got waaaay too wordy. Big surprise there for a writer, huh?

      Cd, you have lived so many interesting places, you already have tons of info for research. I’m freaking jealous of that! 🙂

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    • It’s weird…I get totally creeped out by supernatural events and beings, but view cryptids differently. In another life, I would have loved to be a cryptozoologosit. Too bad only a handful of people can make a living at it!

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    • Hi, Joanna! Great to see you here. Many thanks for dropping by and checking out my Mothman post. There’s just something about this legend that really fascinates me. I’m glad to hear you’re looking forward to part two….and the book! Now all I have to do is start writing it! 😀

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  6. Pingback: Mothman | WhisperingDark

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