Monday 16 November 2009

Mothman the legend and the tourism.

Mothman’s legend lives on by Heather Crum

POINT PLEASANT — For 43 years Point Pleasant, W.Va., has been haunted by the Mothman, which has gained attention all over the world. The city has used this bizarre legend to develop tourism.The legend behind the infamous winged creature known as the Mothman began 43 years ago this Sunday in November of 1966 when two young couples saw something they would never forget, according to Jeff Wamsley, author of two Mothman books, Mothman Museum creator, and director of the Mothman Festival.

When Steve and Mary Mallette and David and Linda Scarberry turned onto an old dirt road on the outskirts of Point Pleasant that took them through an area known as TNT, an abandoned World War II TNT factory, the foursome came face-to-face with the creature and the account of what they saw that day started a craze that has since swept the city of Point Pleasant, the nation and the world. While out joyriding through the heavily wooded area the couples saw two red lights off in the distance that they simply passed off as shadows from a nearby power plant. Moments later, however, those lights began to move toward them at a rapid pace. What they saw next, according to reports, were the eyes of an enormous creature that looked like a man with wings on its back. The animal then chased them in their car exceeding speeds of 100 mph. They claimed to have escaped when the creature became distracted by a dead dog on the side of the road. They were unable to find the following day. On the same night, Newell Partridge, a Salem W.Va., resident, also reported strange sightings on his property. His TV began showing strange patterns on the screen and he heard terrible noises coming from outside. His dog reportedly began howling from the porch. Partridge went outside to investigate and reportedly saw the same red-eyed creature. When Partridge’s dog, Bandit, saw the creature, he ran after it and the dog was never seen again. Partridge learned the next day that the same creature was seen later that evening 90 miles away in the TNT area and he believed Bandit was the dog the couples saw. Wamsley said that over the next year more than 100 reports of a “bird-like” creature began popping up all over the city and he said that there were probably around 100 more sightings at the same time that did not go reported because of the skepticism of the event. Sparse sightings have occurred ever since.

This story caught international attention with the help of a movie. The 2002 movie entitled The Mothman Prophecies was directed by Mark Pellington and written by John A. Keel, an avid Mothman researcher, and Richard Hatem. “Of course, when the movie came out people got different angles on it and everything so I tell people that come into the museum that the real story is a lot scarier than what the movie was,” Wamsley said.

The creature is also associated with the worst disaster in Point Pleasant’s history, the collapse of the Silver Bridge. The event happened on Dec. 15, 1967, when a bridge that spanned the Ohio River collapsed during rush-hour traffic. Over 45 cars fell in to the icy water in less than a minute. According to Dorsal Plants, 50-year-old former resident of Point Pleasant, 46 lives were lost. He said that the bridge failure was due to a defect in an eyebar, but some say that the Mothman was sighted under the bridge moments before it collapsed. The Mothman has been linked to a curse on the town of Point Pleasant and has been associated with 83 deaths so far.There have also been reported sightings of the creature in the U.S., United Kingdom, Mexico and several other places around the world. Each report has been linked to the occurrence of a major event. The most recent sighting was in Mexico where the swine flu pandemic began. Loren Coleman, a reporter for Wireless Flash News, Inc., said the Mothman can “sense viruses.” According to Wamsley, most scientists dismiss the creature as nothing more than a large bird, such as a sandhill crane. This specific type of bird has red patches on its head.Plants said other things may be blamed for some Mothman sightings. When the Mothman legend was just taking off, he was approached by an out-of-town man looking for the TNT area in search for the creature. “As it turns out, we got out the to the TNT area. It was very very late at night,” Plants said. “One of my friends happened to have a flashlight with a red lens cap and as it turns out at the right moment a huge red light come shining on, we all screamed it was the Mothman, we all took off running, including the guy with the cameras and we’ve never seen him since.” The name changed from “bird-like” to Mothman when an Ohio newspaper used the term and it has been used ever since.“A lot of those original witnesses said that it had the shape of a man of what they saw, so there are conflicting theories there and we still do today.” Wamsley said. Despite what scientists say, the people of Point Pleasant dismiss the possibility and are still exploring the Mothman legend to this day. The legend is being used in the city of Point Pleasant as a main theme for tourism and has caused the city to grow beyond expectations because it has similar unexplained characteristics like the Loch Ness monster and Bigfoot according to Wamsley. “It has been a good launching board for other things that is in Point Pleasant,” Wamsley said. “Not too many small towns like us have that kind of a calling card you know, to get people to come and look around and stuff.” In the city of Point Pleasant there is the world’s only Mothman Museum, a Mothman statue, guided tours of the TNT area and the Mothman Festival. Sept. 18 and 19, 2010, will mark the ninth edition of the Mothman Festival in downtown Point Pleasant. The festival features hayrides to TNT, guest speakers, entertainment, exclusive showings of various documentaries, vendors, various props used in the Mothman movie and a Miss Mothman pageant.


So was Mothman a publicity stunt? It is the charge they lay at the residents at Loch Ness and other cryptid sites. I am not sure most people would say they say they saw something knowing it could mean they could be ridiculed and criticised. But when a cryptid is sighted the media and the tourism follows , which always leads people open to talk of publicity stunt. I think as cryptozoologists we have to be aware of this but keep an open mind, not everyone is out to make money.


Loren Coleman said...

Of course, I am not a reporter for "Wireless Flash News," although I have been quoted by them.

However, never in my life have I said that Mothman can "sense viruses."

I discussed, at one time, how Mexican sightings of a Mothman-like entity appeared to have occurred right before the outbreak of "swine flu" in Mexico. But there was not any cause and effect implied. It was merely made as a curious observation.

Ah, the media. :-)

Tabitca said...

I didn't write anything about that as I figured most people would know who you are. I am flattered to see you sometimes visit my blog. Thanks for commenting.