Mothman & Paranormal Activity or Sandhill Crane

by Robert Egich

Halloween has just passed and it seems only fitting to address some of the lore and urban legends surrounding the Appalachian Mountain Regions.
Many years before Screen Gems Entertainment, Tom Rosenburg, Richard Gere and Laura Linney introduced the world to the legend of the Mothman through a motion picture entitled The Mothman Prophecies; the small town of Point Pleasant, WV. and its inhabitants, were well aware of the existence of a being that stoked fear in the hearts of everyone who claimed to have witnessed the sightings.

OK, well for now let us get some background information on this phenomenon and forget about the glitz and CGI of a Hollywood Production.

It is October 17, 1774 and a battle took place between Virginia militiamen and a tribal confederation led by; Shawnee Chief, Cornstalk. This battle took place between the Kanawha and Ohio Rivers, which would later; in 1794, be incorporated into the town of Point Pleasant, WV. It seems the Native Americans were deceived into believing the militia was coming there to sign a peace treaty. The militia suffered a massive defeat; never to return to the area again, and it was learned the battle was a rouse to divert attention from colonist independence from Britain by stirring hatred between inhabitants and Native Americans. Realizing this was an elaborate plot which resulted in Cornstalk and his warrior’s demise reportedly with his last breath cursed the area for 200 years. There is small evidence that the curse was a fictitious plot element of a local play during the 1900’s. His curse was a catalyst for many a discussion during  each unfortunate occurrence in Point Pleasant and the surrounding area during that time span, including floods and severe fires that seemed to plague the downtown through the years, and including a murderous hostage situation at the Mason County Courthouse in 1976.

Back To Present Time – Somewhat… 1966

On November 15, 1966, two young couples from Point Pleasant were traveling late at night in their vehicle. They were passing the abandoned World War II TNT factory, about seven miles north of Point Pleasant when they noticed two red lights in the distance by an old generator near the factory gate. They stopped the car, and reportedly discovered that the lights were the glowing red eyes of an immense being, “shaped like a human, but larger, maybe six and a half or seven feet tall, with large wings set against its back. On November 16, several armed townspeople combed the area around the TNT plant for signs of Mothman. Four individuals were driving to a friend’s house in the vicinity of the TNT plant near the igloo’s (concrete dome-shaped dynamite storage bunkers).  The igloos have long been empty owned by the county and various other companies for storage. They were heading back to their car when a figure appeared behind their parked vehicle, It seemed like it had been lying down, slowly emerging up from the ground, huge and gray, with glowing red eyes. The creature walked onto the porch and starred at them through the window.  On November 24, four people reported seeing the creature flying over the TNT area. On the morning of November 25, a man who was driving along Route 62 just north of the TNT, reported seeing the creature standing in a field, and then it spread its massive wings and ascended to the sky. There are stories like this too numerous to mention over the next months in the Point Pleasant WV,TNT area; but in 1967,  The Mothman was sighted again January 11 hovering over the town’s bridge; The Silver Bridge,  and many, many other times that same year. The Silver Bridge was built in 1928, and it collapsed on December 15, 1967 resulting in the death of 46 people. Investigation of the bridge wreckage was linked to the failure of a single eye-bar in a suspension chain due to a manufacturing flaw. There are rumors that the Mothman appears to prophecies disasters and seems to try to warn people of the impending threat. After that; Mothman vanished as mysteriously as he appeared, and was never to be seen again in Point Pleasant township, the surrounding area or to my knowledge anywhere.

One of the earliest and probably most convincing explanations I have heard and researched is the theory that The Mothman was in fact a misidentified bird; The Sandhill Crane, which had probably strayed from it’s normal migration pattern and in fact during the late 1960′s had become somewhat of a problem in surrounding regions. The Sandhill Crane is a very large bird with an average wingspan of over 5 feet but can reach lenghts of up to 7 feet. It’s body stands a average of 39 inches tall and it is described as having the ability to soar large distances without the use of it’s wings as well as emitting a very unusual shrieking sound. Also from the picture on the right, those large red markings on the head could seem quite ominous to a frightened individual looking at it in their headlights on a dark lonely road and with an imagination already fueled by local stories and folklore. There are numerous other theories into The Mothman mystery including hoaxes; of course, parapsychological and precognative events; probably stemming from premonitions of tragedy striking a town already plagued with mishaps, or general folklore story additions just to make a good tale even better. I’m not here to draw a conclusion; but instead, present some facts. You make up your own mind or theory as to the mystery of  The Mothman Prophecies.


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