LIFE: Four decades after first being spotted, Mothman is still a hot topicExactly 40 years ago, on Nov. 15, 1966, Roger and Linda Scarberry became some of the first people at the Point Pleasant TNT area to see and have a frightening experience with the flying creature that has become known as "The Mothman."
By Dave Lavender
By Dave Lavender
That next day, long lines of cars were out at TNT trying to see the winged creature and see it they did.
During the rest of 1966 through 1967, Mothman was sighted by more than 100 adults in Mason, Lincoln, Logan, Kanawha and Nicholas counties, according to John Keel's famous book, "The Mothman Prophecies," which spawned the major motion picture starring Richard Gere.
Described as larger than a man, a near 10-foot wingspan with the ability of helicopter-like take-offs and flying speeds of nearly 100 miles an hour, Mothman struck fear and curiosity across the country.
"He staged his appearances with clever showmanship, popping up in unexpected places in front of witnesses who had previously been skeptical," Keel writes in his book.
After the Silver Bridge collapsed on Dec. 15, 1967, the sightings of the Mothman, as well as the equally creepy and extensive sightings of Men in Black and UFOs mysteriously subsided.
To mark the 40th anniversary of that first reported wide-spread sighting of the Mothman, we touched base with Point Pleasant resident Jeff Wamsley, the author of "Mothman: The Facts Behind The Legend with Donnie Sergent, Jr., and "Mothman : Behind the Red Eyes ... The Complete Investigative Library."
Wamsley, who addresses the latest Sci-Fi Investigates show featuring the Mothman, also runs the new Mothman Museum, located on Main Street in downtown Point Pleasant.
LAVENDER: I know the Sci-Fi channel was here this summer filming, tell us a little bit about where they went and about the shoot.
WAMSLEY: We met with producer Tim Beacham of NBC in mid July to plan all the shooting locations and the cast and crew came in mid August and filmed for about a week. They did all sorts of investigative interviews, visited the Mothman Museum, camped overnight in the TNT area. They also spent the night at the historic Lowe Hotel and looked into Point Pleasant's history of Chief Cornstalk and the Silver bridge disaster. Basically the show is a reality format with cast members who travel the country and investigate things like the Mothman, Bigfoot, Roswell etc.
LAVENDER: It's been 40 years since the Mothman sightings in Nov. 1966 when Linda Scarberry and many others started seeing the Mothman and the men in black, why do you think people are still so fascinated from around the world with what happened here so long ago?
WAMSLEY: I think the main reason is because none of these Mothman/UFO/MIB sightings 40 years ago have never been fully explained. All of the events that occurred here in 1966-67 are all documented through the press clippings and eye witness reports, was it a Sandhill Crane or something else? The fact that there were so many people here seeing this thing, whatever it was, gives the Mothman legacy validity. It wasn't just two or three people who reported these encounters.
LAVENDER: Point Pleasant has had lots of publicity about Mothman including the movie. What kind of impact will this showing on the Sci-Fi channel probably have?
WAMSLEY: Hopefully it will catch the attention and interest of people who are curious about the Mothman story who have never had the chance to visit Point Pleasant. The Mothman Museum as well as the annual Mothman Festival continue to set attendance records each year, it's a hands-on experience for many because they can investigate it for themselves by visiting the TNT area or possibly talking to someone here who lived through the Mothman/UFO experience first-hand.
LAVENDER: Tell us about the Japanese crew coming here in November?
WAMSLEY: The film crews and documentary projects taking place here in Point Pleasant are getting to be fairly common. We are expecting a Japanese TV film crew to arrive here in mid-November to film a segment about the Mothman to featured during a 60-minute show about various topics such as Bigfoot and other monsters seen around the world. It's pretty cool when Mothman ranks up there with the Godzilla fans.
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See Also: Mothman: Myth or Reality?