Jennifer Wilber is an author and freelance writer from Ohio. She holds a B.A. in creative writing and English.
What Is the Mothman?
Mothman is a cryptid—or paranormal creature—most often associated with Point Pleasant, West Virginia, a small town located along the banks of the Ohio River. Mothman is usually described as a large monster standing over six feet tall, with wings that span six to ten feet across, menacing red eyes, and a body covered in feathers or fur.
Mothman was first sighted in 1966 by residents of Point Pleasant, and over one hundred sightings continued to be reported through 1968 in the town and surrounding areas. It is said that Mothman usually appears just before tragedy strikes as a portent of impending doom. Most of the sightings of the creature were associated with the collapse of the Silver Bridge, which connected Point Pleasant, WV, to Galliopolis, OH, in 1967, a tragedy that resulted in the deaths of 46 people.
Though most of the reported Mothman activity was confined to the Point Pleasant area between 1966 and 1968, it has also been reportedly seen in the neighboring state of Ohio several times throughout the years since its first appearance on the other side of the Ohio River.
Galliopolis, Ohio: 1966-1968
Because of its proximity to Point Pleasant, there is no surprise that residents of Galliopolis would report encountering Mothman frequently as well. As with residents of Point Pleasant, Galliopolis residents reported hundreds of sightings of the Mothman as well in the years surrounding the Silver Bridge collapse.
Alliance, Ohio: 1982
An anonymous eyewitness reportedly encountered the Mothman near Alliance, Ohio, one night in 1982. This encounter occurred when the witness and his friends were leaving a party late one night just outside of town. After they got into the car and pulled away, the witness noticed some kind of red lights in their rearview mirror.
At first, the witness and his friends assumed it was a car, but it came up too fast. That’s when they realized that the red lights were not car lights but rather the beady eyes of some kind of creature. The creature allegedly stopped about ten feet away from the car, and the witness and his friends could see the outline of the creature. It was some kind of weird, vaguely humanoid shape—but it definitely wasn’t human. In the witness’s words, he saw a “body outline of a weird person. Not sure what, but not human.”
The group initially justified their experience as a result of drinking too much, but one of the friends who witnessed the creature hadn't been drinking. The sober friend in the group saw the same thing as his inebriated friends that night.
Canton and Ravenna, Ohio: 1980s
An artist from Canton, Ohio, named Joe reportedly encountered the Mothman at least twice in the 1980s. The first time he encountered the creature was when he was about 12 years old. Allegedly, the creature appeared in his doorway in the middle of the night while he was in bed. It appeared to be transparent and had burning red eyes and seemed to be made up of tendrils of a black, smoke-like substance. It hovered over the 12-year-old for a minute, then laughed in a deep, echoing male voice before disappearing. Joe remembers being paralyzed, unable to move in his bed, for a while after the creature disappeared.
Joe claims to have encountered the creature a second time when he was sixteen years old. He lived in Ravenna, Ohio, at the time of this second encounter. This encounter was very similar to the first and also involved paralysis in his bed for what seemed like at least an hour to him. During this episode, he eventually got his strength back and was able to crawl to his mother’s room.
During Joe’s sophomore year at Akron University, he made a series of paintings based on these experiences, which he called “The Willies.” A fellow student allegedly told him that she had encountered the exact same thing as a child. Joe initially thought that he had encountered the “boogieman” as a child but decided it was more likely to have been the Mothman after noticing similarities between the creature he encountered and the creature described in The Mothman Prophecies.
This account of encountering the Mothman is interesting for a number of reasons. Unlike most other sightings, which appear outdoors, usually in the woods or forest, this witness encountered the creature inside their own home. It also appeared as a see-through entity, almost like a spirit, unlike the traditional encounters with a creature possessing a solid corporeal form. It is possible that this witness experienced sleep paralysis, rather than anything paranormal.
Columbus, Ohio: 2003
An anonymous resident of Columbus, Ohio, reportedly encountered Mothman while hiking with two friends along forest trails one evening in 2003 as the sun began to set. As they were walking, the three friends allegedly heard a noise behind them. When they turned around to see what it was, they saw a terrifying creature. The hiker described the creature as “… gray and had eyes like the devil.” The creature then flew up about six feet off the ground and swooped down at the three hikers, almost knocking them over.
The hikers ran away down the trail, attempting to get away from the creature, but it followed after them, making a horrible screeching sound, which almost caused one of the hikers to pass out. The three hikers eventually jumped into the creek in an attempt to lose the creature, and it eventually disappeared back into the woods.
Toronto, Ohio: 2003
Another Ohioan allegedly encountered the Mothman in the late summer/early fall of 2003 in the city of Toronto, Ohio, located along the Ohio river. This encounter occurred one night at around 2 AM while the witness was driving through the countryside. The driver allegedly spotted the creature on a township road outside of town, standing near the right side of the road. The creature was reportedly about the same height as an average human male, was whitish gray in color, and had creepy red eyes consistent with most Mothman sightings. The driver didn’t get a good enough look at the creature to notice whether or not it had wings. It stood on two legs and crouched down as the driver’s car approached, then took off and disappeared into the woods as the car came closer.
This anonymous observer kept their experience to themselves—for fear of being ridiculed for their claims—until a month or two later when they heard that several local kids had a similar sighting in the woods outside of town. The kids described the creature they encountered as tall and pale with glowing red eyes. Around this same time, the observer also heard from a former co-worker who claimed to have found a number of dead dogs arranged in a pile near the same location where the sightings of the creature had occurred.
Are These Alleged Mothman Sightings Real?
Is it possible that these reported sightings of the Mothman in Ohio have any credibility, or are they simply the result of over-active imaginations or hoaxes? Could there really be a winged, red-eyed creature terrorizing parts of West Virginia and Ohio, or are these sightings better explained by alcohol use, sleep paralysis, and plain old fabrication? Have you ever had an encounter with a creature you believe to be the Mothman or some other cryptid or paranormal entity?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 Jennifer Wilber
Liam Rhoades from Sarasota on September 19, 2019:
Once again , Ms Wilbur touches on a subject that hits me close to home....
Half of my family, my Father's entire side are from Point Pleasant, West (by God) Virginia..the stories of a strange winged creature with red eyes and a human like figure go back many.. many.. many years in my family and neighbors there..as well as friends of mine from Alliance Ohio ..they couldn't say what they've seen ..only it wasn't like anything they'd seen before or since..Although I'm not so convinced it's something Paranormal .what I mean is, if a 8-10 foot hairy man beast with giant feet can hide in the forest for 100's of years, then why not this thing? Point Pleasant is no stranger to Weird Events and Odd happenings..Look up the Legend of Ole "Corn Stalk" the Indian if you like the Macabre.. Sometimes we wonder "Are we alone in this Universe?" but to me, both answers are equally as Frightening as the Other.
Chris Eidel on August 04, 2019:
No matter what you think about God or aliens or talking trees you really a foolish person to think we are the smartest an most evolved species on this rock
Elijah A Alexander Jr from Washington DC on April 01, 2019:
I really enjoy your reporting on paranormal beings because of my experiences with paranormal voices and believe they are only so because science have not proven them. I believe most of the universe - I rather call Zeroverse since zero represents everything and nothing both - consists of things beyond our scientific knowledge and some knowledge they refuse to reveal.
I'm 74 years of age and in the past twenty to thirty years we have spotted two new planets circling earth that had not been seen before. I believe they were in a paranormal state until this time of earth's history when all except the 5% of the world's population will be destroyed and earth will become paranormal to what it is today (Revelation 21, my source). So, continue to publish these paranormal things, they aid my understanding of life.
I thank you for sharing them.