Folk Tale Turned Urban Legend: Mothman (Pt 1)

The town of Point Pleasant West Virginia is known as a tourist location for anyone wanting to know about the Mothman. The town holds an annual festival in the Mothman’s honor, along with a Mothman museum, a cafe, a tasty themed pizza, and a large statue with big ruby red eyes. 

Folk Tale Turned Urban Legend: Mothman (Pt 1)

Emily Bunker, video producer and reporter

From November 12, 1966 to December 15, 1967, a creature soon to be known as the “Mothman” would terrorize the small town of Point Pleasant West Virginia. 

Mothman is a humanoid creature with big luminous eyes and a large wingspan. His wings however, are often depicted as that of a bird and not a moth, as the name suggests. 

Mothman was first seen by five grave diggers near Clendenin, West Virginia. The five claimed to see a man-like figure flying low out of the trees over their heads. Not long after this, two young couples, Roger and Linda Scarberry and Steve and Mary Mallette, told local police they saw a large grey creature whose eyes “glowed red” when their car’s headlights picked it up. They described it as a “large flying man with ten-foot wings”, which followed behind their car while they were driving driving in an area outside of town known as “the TNT area”, the site of a former World War II munitions plant.

The first newspaper was published in the Point Pleasant Register on November 16, 1966, titled “Couples See Man-Sized Bird … Creature … Something”. The national press soon picked up on the report and spread the story across the United States as they struggled to make sense of the strange phenomenon. 

During the next few days, similar sightings would be reported. In one instance, two volunteer firemen described the Mothman as a “large bird with red eyes.” Mason County Sheriff Johnson commented that he believed the sightings were due to an unusually large heron he deemed a “shitepoke”, which is any of a number of birds of the heron family.

Contractor Newell Partridge told Johnson that when he aimed a flashlight at a creature in a nearby field its eyes glowed “like bicycle reflectors.” Partridge blamed the buzzing from his TV and the disappearance of his German Shepard dog on this creature. 

Wildlife biologist Dr. Robert L. Smith at West Virginia University told reporters that descriptions and sightings all fit that of a sandhill crane, a large American crane almost as high as a man with a seven-foot wingspan featuring circles of reddish coloring around the eyes, and that the bird may have wandered out of its migration route. This particular crane was unrecognized at first because it is not native to the West Virginian region. This however, is just a conspiracy, though it is believed by many critics. 

The elusive creature was covered in an episode in a series by Buzzfeed called Unsolved. The show is run by Ryan Bergara and his co-host, Shane    Madej (also known as the “ghoul boys”). Together they discuss unsolved true crime and supernatural mysteries. Shane came up with a creative list of names for the Mothman, which consist of;

  • The Sky Beast   
  • Moon Monster                         
  • The Cloud Feud
  • The Evil Eagle
  • Dr. Sky Shadow                        
  • Mr. Wind Biter
  • The Blood Bird
  • Flappy Spookster
  • The Winged Wretch           
  • The Wing-A-Tron (This one by Ryan)

Ultimately, after a long and humorous discussion, the Ghoul Boys came to the conclusion that whether or not the Mothman actually exist will remain . . . 

Ghoulfriendo. “Ghoulfriendo.” Don’t Try It Demons, 21 Apr. 2018,

Google Search, Google,

“Sandhill Crane Photos and Videos for, All About Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology.” Photos and Videos for Sandhill Crane, All About Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology,

“Steve and Mary Mallette, Roger and Linda Scarberry Mothman Witnesses: Mothman Sightings, Mothman, The Mothman Prophecies.” Pinterest,