Wednesday, March 22, 2006

"He Supposedly Saw a UFO Go Down the Ohio River"

Mothman Drawing
Mothman has his own museum

By Samantha L. Thomas
The Daily Mail

     The Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot and the Jersey Devil are names recognized worldwide, hunted by those with an insatiable curiosity. For residents of West Virginia's own Point Pleasant, there is another name that should be on that list: Mothman.

The reported sightings of the large, winged creature with red glowing eyes started in the late 1960s, coinciding with many strange happenings in the area, including some saucer-like unidentified flying objects and climaxing with the collapse of the Silver Bridge in December 1967 that killed 46 people.

Point Pleasant resident Jeff Wamsley has written two books on the Mothman phenomenon, helps to organize the annual Mothman Festival, and recently decided to open a museum about the infamous creature on Main Street.

The collection includes news clippings and props from the set of the 2002 movie, "The Mothman Prophecies," which starred Richard Gere.

"We have everything from the telephones that Richard Gere used in the hotel scene to the napkin holders used in the diner set," Wamsley said. "The collection is massive, and it seems to really grab visitors' attention. In addition to the props, we have all sorts of private collections and archives, really rare stuff that helps tell the Mothman story."

One attention grabber is the "death list" displayed prominently in the middle of the museum. It draws connections between the sudden or strange deaths of those associated in some way with the Mothman legend.

"Some believe it and some people do not," Wamsley said of the list.

There is also a media center, which shows several films, documentaries and special segments from television shows such as "Unsolved Mysteries" and a recently aired special on the Travel Channel featuring a stop in Point Pleasant.

"We have amassed a very unique media collection," he said. "We are working on some rare 8mm footage shot right after the Silver Bridge collapse by my father in December 1967. Stuff like that has never been seen by the public, so it's interesting to work on and present to the public."

Todd Wiseman, a Mothman Museum worker and Ohio University film student, said he believes a creature similar to the Mothman still exists in the area because the museum receives reports of sightings.

Wiseman said several dozen reports have been turned in to the museum, some from the area outside Point Pleasant where Mothman was originally thought to have lived.

There are also several maps with pins marking areas throughout Mason County, symbolizing the sightings of the winged creature.

Darla Slater, a Huntington resident, recently visited the museum to pick up a few pieces of merchandise for her husband.

"He's a Mothman freak," Slater said of the man. "He supposedly saw (a) UFO go down the Ohio River." The man's wife described him as a total believer in the Mothman story and said he was living in the Ohio Valley when Point Pleasant's unexplained occurrences took place in the late '60s.

Wiseman agrees with Slater, saying he believes there have been almost as many strange occurrences happening in the Ohio Valley since the Gere movie came out four years ago as there were in the '60s.

More . . .

See Also: Sharp-Dressed Men: The Men-in-Black are Back


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