Clarissa Johal: #FolkloreThursday - Roadtrip to Visit Mothman

Thursday, June 2, 2016

#FolkloreThursday - Roadtrip to Visit Mothman

My daughter wants to take a road trip to Point Pleasant, West Virginia this summer. Why, you ask? She wants to visit the Mothman Museum. And yes, there is such a thing. I checked into it, and not only is there a museum dedicated to Mothman, there's an entire festival. I'm always game for a road trip but knew little about Mothman. I decided to do some research into the folklore and found some fascinating stuff.

Sighting History

Photo courtesy of Metronomad via Flickr
The first known sighting of Mothman occurred on November 12, 1966. Five men were digging a grave at a cemetery near Clendenin, West Virginia. They claimed to see a man-like figure fly over their heads.

On November 15, 1966, two couples told police they saw a large white creature whose eyes "glowed red" in their the car headlights. They described the creature as a "large flying man with ten-foot wings." Supposedly, it followed their car while they were driving around the site of a former World War II munitions plant.
The creature was seen by five more people that week. One stated that he saw it standing in a field when it suddenly spread its wings and flew away.

On January 11, 1967, the Mothman was seen hovering around the Point Pleasant Bridge, also called the Silver Bridge. On and off throughout that year, more reports were filed about sightings of the creature around the bridge. The bridge collapsed on December 15, 1967 leading to the deaths of 46 people. Many think the Mothman sightings and the bridge collapse were connected.

Native American Curse?

Prior to the American Revolution, a young Hokoleskwa, who later became a prominent leader of the Shawnee nation, opposed European settlement west of the Ohio River. After the Battle of Point Pleasant in 1774, Hokoleskwa became an advocate for peace. His murder in 1777 by American militiamen during a diplomatic visit outraged both American Indians and Virginians.
In 1840 his grave was discovered and his remains were moved to the Mason County Courthouse grounds. In 1954 the courthouse was torn down and he was reburied in Point Pleasant. Legends arose of a Point Pleasant curse, which included the Mothman sightings.

Public Domain at Wikipedia
Scientific Explanation

Wildlife biologist Dr. Robert L. Smith at West Virginia University states that descriptions and sightings of Mothman all fit the sandhill crane, a large American crane almost as high as a man with a seven-foot wingspan. The bird has circles of reddish coloring around the eyes. This particular crane isn't native to the region, but may have wandered out of its migration route at the time. 

In spite of this theory, Mothman sighting continue around the world to this day.

Photo courtesy of Jason W. via Flickr
So, what do you think? Was Mothman a sandhill crane, cryptid, or curse? My thoughts are that Mothman was a sandhill crane (which will disappoint my daughter immensely). But, like I said, I'm always game for a road trip.

Anyone up for Bigfoot?  

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