Tuesday, August 26

The Mothman Festival

The Mothman Legend, Point Pleasant, West Virginia

Older Mothman Fest Poster
Need something a little different, strange even, to see and do in September?  How about visiting the area that made the Mothman famous?

How It Started

The Mothman is said to be a moth like creature seen in and around the area of Point Pleasant, West Virginia from November 1966 to December 1967. 
The first reported sighting was on November 12, 1966 by five men digging a grave at a cemetery near Clendenin, WV.  They claimed to see a man like creature fly down from a tree and over their heads. 

Three days later, on November 15, 1966 two young couples from Point Pleasant told police they saw a large white creature whose eyes glowed red when the car headlights shined on it.  The couples, visually shaken,  described it as a large flying man like thing with approximately  10 foot wings following their car while driving in the TNT area.  The TNT area is the site of the former World War ll munitions plant.
During the next few days there were many other sighting reported, many from citizens not easily dismissed. 
Two volunteer firemen reported they sighted what they say was a large bird like creature with glowing red eyes.
Drawing of the Mothman

Contractor Newell Partridge told the county sheriff that he too saw the creature and when he shined his flashlight into it’s eyes, they glowed like bicycle reflectors.  He also blamed buzzing noises from his T.V and the disappearance of his German shepherd on the creature.
Mothman by Patty Wolford

At the time, Wildlife biologist De. Robert L. Smith at the WV University told reporters that the descriptions and sighting all match the Sandhill Crane, a large American crane as high as a man with a seven foot wing span and circles of reddish coloring around the eyes.  Smith believes the bird may have wandered out of it’s migrations route.
The Silver Bridge collapse in 1967

On December 15, 1967 the Silver Bridge collapsed while it was full of rush hour traffic, resulting in the deaths of 46 people.  Two of the victims were never found.  Investigation of the wreckage pointed to the cause of the collapse to failure of a single eyebar in a suspension chain.  At the time, the bridge was carrying much heavier loads than originally designed for.
The Silver bridge collapse from the Ohio side.

The sightings of the Mothman stopped with the collapse of the bridge, giving rise to the legend that the Mothman sighting and bridge collapse were somehow connected and that the Mothman may have been warning about the tragic disaster.
Newspaper story concerning the Silver bridge disaster

Theories of who the Mothman was or what he was are many.  Some believe it was some kind of mutant, spawned from local chemical and weapons dumps. Some even suggested the Mothman was "the curse of Chief Cornstalk," a Shawnee leader who had been treacherously murdered in Point Pleasant in 1777, and who had finally gotten around to exacting his revenge.

Point Pleasant, West Virginia
Point Pleasant is a small town with a rich history. The river community, situated where the Kanawha and Ohio rivers meet, played an important role in the settlement of America. In 1774, the colonial army won the Battle of Point Pleasant, opening the area to the first permanent white settlers and paving the way for continued western expansion. 
Point Pleasant, West Virginia downtown

What To See And Do

Festival and Statue
Point Pleasant has an annual weekend long Mothman Festival the third weekend every September.  The first festival was held in 2002 and a life size statue of the Mothman was erected in 2003. 

The Mothman statue

The Mothman statue is made out of stainless steel and is copied from drawings from witnesses in the 1960’s.
Although the festival started small it's growing every year.  And there are many events during the festival including the Mothman Ball, a pancake eating contest, hayrides, historical tours, live music, and food and craft vendors.

Me with the author of Weird Ohio at The Mothman Festival

I ran across the booth of The Ghosts Of Ohio and the author of the book “Weird Ohio” while at the festival and purchased a signed copy.  I love everything Ohio!

Mothman Museum and Research Center
The museum was opened in 2005 and is run by Jeff Wamsley.  An offbeat little place filled with newspaper clippings, articles and props and a variety of other items about the Mothman. 
The museum also holds the largest collection of props and memorabilia from the movie The Mothman Prophecies.  
Drawings of the Mothman in the Museum

TNT Hayride
One of the highlights of our trip was the eerie hayride through the TNT area. Who doesn't love a scary hayride?  The “TNT Area” refers to the old ammunitions manufacturing plant where the Mothman was most active. It also encompasses the wildlife reserve that used to be a war-time ammunition holding ground. The hayride starts around 8:00 pm on the grounds, and along the way we saw many scary things and of course the Mothman.

Me disguised as the Mothman
Point Pleasant River Museum
This museum focuses on river life in the area.  Displays, videos and special quests highlight topics such as Ohio’s great flood, boat construction, sternwheelers, steamers, river disasters and local river industry.  The museum has a working pilothouse, a research library and a 2,400 gallon aquarium filled with Ohio River fish. 

The Point Pleasant River Museum at dusk

Riverside Park
This is one thing you don’t want to miss.  Although it has nothing to do with the Mothman, (but according to some, it might) it is well worth the visit.  Here you will see an amazing statue of Chief Cornstalk and one of General Andrew Lewis, both made of stainless steel.  Chief Hokoleskwa or Cornstalk was a leader of the Shawnee people who battled with English settlers in Ohio near the location of what is now Point Pleasant, West Virginia. The Chief survived the initial battles, which were won by General Andrew Lewis.  Chief Cornstalk later was later tricked into a meeting supposedly for peace talks, and was then ambushed and murdered, along with his son and members of his tribe in 1777 by the settlers. Cornstalk's bones were moved several times, but today, what is left of them,  rest in an obelisk located in Tu-Endie-Wei State Park in the town of Point Pleasant.  
Riverside Park also has beautiful murals by artist Robert Dafford, painted on the flood wall representing the history of Point Pleasant.

Chief Cornstalk statue and Murals

Fort Randolph.
Located in Krodel Park, Fort Randolph is near where two large rivers meet, the Ohio river and the Kanawha.  This fort has a long history.  It was the farthest out-post from the original colonies in it's time and was first used as as a refuge for white settlers against Indian attacks.  Later it played an important part in the American Revolutionary War.
Living history comes alive with demos by reenactors of 18th century militia, native Americans and civilians. There are also outdoor dramas performed.
Go to the Fort Randolph website for schedule of events.

West Virginia Farm Museum
Many buildings of historical value have been moved and rebuilt on the grounds. There are log cabins, an early farmhouse, an operational 19th century blacksmith shop, turn-of-the-century doctor's and newspaper offices, the first Lutheran Church west of the Allegheny Mountains, and lots more.

You can stroll along a nearby nature trail or visit the herb gardens, carpenter shop or schoolhouse.
Depending on the time of your visit, there are also costumed interpreters. You may also see horses, chickens, donkeys, a goat and a llama.

Go to the Farm Museum’s website for festivals and events.

The Mothman Prophecies, The Book
Written by John A. Keel.   
In 1967, Keel popularized the term "Men In Black" in an article for the men's adventure magazine Saga, entitled "UFO Agents of Terror". According to Keel, he initially sought to explain UFOs as extraterrestrial visitations, but later abandoned this hypothesis.
His 1975 book, The Mothman Prophecies was Keel's account of his investigation into alleged sightings in West Virginia of a huge, winged creature called the "Mothman." The book combines Keel's account of receiving strange phone calls with reports of mutilated pets and culminates with the December 15, 1967, collapse of the Silver Bridge across the Ohio River.

The Mothman Prophecies, The Movie
The book by John A. Keel was widely popularized as the basis of the 2002 film of the same name starring Richard Gere.
The movie's release date was January 25, 2002, and some of the scenes were actually filmed in Point Pleasant.
The film "The Mothman Prophecies” is the story that deals with the mythical Mothman sightings in Point Pleasant
The film stared Richard Gere, Laura Linney and Debra Messing. 

The Gallipolis Locks and Dam
The locks and dam are located along Route 2 about 11 miles north of Point Pleasant and is a great fishing and bird watching site.  The Locks and Dam was built on the Ohio River near Gallipolis Ferry, West Virginia as part of a series of locks and dams to allow navigation year-round. It began operation in August 25, 1937, and final construction was completed in October 1937.

The Gallipolis Locks and Dam on Route 2

Fifty years later, construction began on a project to build bigger lock chambers, capable of locking through modern-sized tows and barges. Work began in November 1987 and was completed January 1993.

The Gallipolis Locks and Dam, north of Point Pleasant

We are finishing up our summer chores and stocking firewood for the cold winter months that are predicted for this year.  Hope you had a wonderful summer and stress free "back to school" time.


Mothman Information

The Mothman Festival 

Other Travel Ideas

South Dakota: Camping in South Dakota


Anonymous said...

Gosh I didn't know there was so much to see in the Point Pleasant area, and would love to do a weekend trip to the Mothman Fest. Thanks for the information and trip idea! Beth and Tim

Ohiothoughts said...

Glad you can use the info. There is a historical hotel in the old downtown area or many other motels / hotels in the Gallipolis area which is across the river in Ohio. Have a great trip!!

Anonymous said...

We live in the area and wanted to say thanks for writing such nice story about Point Pleasant. I started out reading this post but have been reading the rest of your blog for some time. I need to get breakfast ready, but afterward I'm coming back again to read additional posts! Mary

Ohiothoughts said...

Thanks Mary. Yes, we like the Point Pleasant area and really enjoyed the Mothman Fest. And it's encouraging to me that you enjoy the posts, thanks so much!

MCMama said...

You have photos at Fort Randolph, not the Farm Museum.

Ohiothoughts said...

Opps, MCMama, you're absolutely right! Thanks for catching that. I will correct it, not sure how I got it mixed up. We toured them both. Brain freeze moment I guess, of which I have a lot, ; ) Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

Hi! I've been reading your website for some time now and wanted to give you a shout out from Humble Tx! Just wanted to tell you keep up the good job!

Ohiothoughts said...

Why thank you! Not sure where Humble is but my daughter is in the DFW area. Beautiful state, Texas.

Freebird said...

I live near Point Pleasant & went to the Mothman Festival & went to all the places you touched on. And I think you did a GREAT JOB on shedding light on the Mothman. I also met Jeff Wamsley's wife & she is a real sweetheart & a pleasant gal too talk to. I also bought at the Mothman Museum a ton of shirts, mugs, books, & dvds on Mothman & was given allot of free stuff for being such a good customer!!! I had a blast while I was there & hope I can return again someday. As for you, I think you did & do a GREAT JOB with this & keep it going!!!!

Ohiothoughts said...

Freebird, thanks for the compliments! I haven't been to the festival in a couple years but hope to get back. There's lots to do in the area and to me, the whole story is quite interesting. I always try to keep an open mind as there are so many strange and unexplained happenings!
Again, thanks for stopping, reading and commenting, much appreciated,