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Mothman, Harbinger or Hero?

Updated: Mar 20, 2020

The year is 1966 and a small town in West Virginia has been visited by a strange creature. Eyewitness descriptions point to the fact that the creature was not from around there. One of the first witnesses to come forward described an encounter with a large gray humanoid with very large wings and glowing red eyes. The creature chased their vehicle at speeds at over 100MPH. More reports quickly followed and a lot of them made the news. Sightings of the creature that would come to be known as Mothman would spread like wildfire throughout the small town of Point Pleasant and reach into other counties in West Virginia and beyond. Other strange events such as, Men in Black, psychic phenomenon, and UFO sightings would be reported in the same areas. All of this would come to a seeming end at least as far as the newspapers and local media were concerned with the tragic collapse of the Silver Bridge in 1967.

The Silver Bridge was a large suspension bridge built in 1928 spanning the Ohio River. It acted as a contact point between West Virginia and Ohio and was a vital transportation asset. At 5 PM on December 15, 1967 the bridge would collapse during busy Holiday rush-hour traffic. This tragedy resulted in the loss of 46 souls. Following the collapse stories of Mothman would slowly fade away or more than likely not be addressed as ferociously by media sources out of respect for those who lost their families and friends. In those days there was no internet or social media, your social media was visiting your neighbors or friends at home or church or around the water cooler at work recounting the news of the day. There were lots of stories whispered by witnesses who claimed to have seen the creature on or near the bridge prior to the collapse. I have heard some of these stories. I even seen a photo that was said to depict Mothman sitting on the bridge. In my view this was a modern recreation. There is a growing pop culture legend around Mothman and you must be careful of hoaxes.

Recently I got the privilege of speaking with a witness who I’ll refer to as Rose. As a young girl Rose was crossing the silver Bridge on that fateful December 15, 1967 day. Like so many witnesses to strange events, Rose wishes to remain anonymous. She gave me permission to tell her story as long as she remained “out of the spotlight”. I get a lot of stories from people who have seen things and have issues processing the information and who are unsure how others may view them if they talk about what they have experienced, as a witness to paranormal phenomena, I can fully understand this. I wanted to tell Rose’s story because it is an example of a different interpretation of the Mothman phenomena. In my opinion, her encounter is both genuine and important.

Mothman on the Bridge

The day was December 15, 1967, Rose was coming back from visiting her Grandmother in the hospital and doing some Christmas shopping with her family. They were getting ready to cross the Silver Bridge returning to West Virginia when they caught sight of a dark creature which flew quickly toward their vehicle. The creature was dark gray or black with red eyes. Its head and shoulders set on top of two huge wings. The bottom half of the creature seemed to be ethereal, there were no visible legs and the lower portion seemed to be distorted and shifting in appearance. The creature darted back and forth in front of the family’s car as they crossed the bridge. She said, “His wingspan was close to the width of the bridge”. Its body was “Larger than any man I have ever seen”. Time to time it would turn, and she would catch a glimpse of the glowing red eyes which she described as set into a featureless face. She noted, “I never made out a nose or any other facial features except for those eyes...when he turned for a flash his eyes glowed a bright red.”

Rose observed the entity flying toward the vehicle and noted that it never landed and seemed to be trying to stop the vehicle. After approximately ten minutes the creature seemingly gave up and veered off. The family continued home. After phoning friends and family to tell them about the encounter she said they learned of the bridge collapse. The bridge collapsed approximately 30 minutes after her family’s crossing and encounter with the Mothman. “Mothman never scared me really, it was the others reaction to him that scared me.” To Rose, Mothman was not there to harm her, it was warning her and her family.

There are many stories and theories about the creature we now call Mothman. Some are darker and suggest it being a harbinger, demon, or something evil that was set loose upon the town. It is also suggested to be part of a Native American curse, but is it possible that Mothman may have been misinterpreted? Was it trying to warn the residents of the impending doom? If so, we are forced to ask some very real and unsettling questions. How would such a creature know that something such as this event was about to occur? How would it cause psychic phenomena and other strange events which are said to accompany the mass sightings? Since 2016 there has been an increasing number of sightings which seem to match the description of what Rose saw when she was a little girl and what hundreds of eyewitnesses have reported seeing between 1966 and 1967. If this creature or creatures are linked to tragedy, whether to warn or to cause them, then what could this mean for those places that are experiencing this phenomena now?

Many names, one creature?

Some believe the Mothman may feed off of negative energy generated in the areas where it is sighted. The latest mass sighting was in Chicago in 2016. 2016 would be Chicago's most deadly year in two decades with 762 murders, an increase of 58% since 2015. Could the creature have been drawn to the area due to the tremendous amount of negative energy? If the entity follows chaos and suffering then what about other points in history? In January 1926 sightings of the “Man Dragon” would begin to be reported through China. Witnesses would claim a large shadowy figure would be seen hovering over the Xiaon Te Dam. On January 19, 1926 the dam would collapse and inundate the village below with 40 billion gallons of rushing water. Over 15,000 villagers would lose their lives.

There are reports that New Yorkers witnessed a huge winged creature prior to the events on 9/11. Reports also place a winged creature at Chernobyl and Fukushima prior to their failings. In my opinion, the Chernobyl account seems to be controversial and could be a product of fiction. However, the Fukushima accounts are said to have a verifiable witness who came forward. They reported seeing a large winged, dark figure with glowing eyes. There are more but nearly everyone precedes a massive loss of life, all except for one.

September 10, 1978 in Germany a group of miners were preparing to head underground for their shift when they witnessed what they thought was a tall man in a trench coat standing in front of the entrance. As they drew closer, they realized that it was no trench coat and no ordinary man. They saw before them a large humanoid figure with wings. It let out a terrifying screech that sent the men scurrying away in fear. One hour later the mine the men were about to enter collapsed leading some to believe the creature which came to be known as the Freiburg Shrieker was there to warn the men away.

What if the Mothman is simply in the wrong place at the right time? Could the entity be there to warn away individuals prior to tragic events? Perhaps it’s easier to simply settle on Mothman being responsible because of the way it looks or acts? We have no proof either way but some, including Rose, believe that Mothman was there to warn rather than to harm her family.

-Ron Lanham

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