Welcome to the newest feature here at The Invisible College Press. As you know, we publish books about UFOs, conspiracies, and the paranormal...books! But we often receive submissions of article and shorts. Why? I don't know. I guess people don't read the submission guidelines. But, instead of telling these people to take a hike, we've decided to give them a voice here at ICP and post their articles, because what the hell, it don't cost us nothing. Anyway, if you like these articles, feel free to contact the author...
Our first rant comes from our own intrepid editor in chief: Phil Reynolds
Recently, I took the opportunity to route a trip through Point Pleasant, West Virginia, Scene of the 1966-67 Mothman sightings. These events, and subsequent books spawned a recent movie - The Mothman Prophecies - a highly fictionalized account of the story. Let me recap those events for those who don’t know about it.
On 15 November 1966, two teenage couples were driving through the remote TNT area north of town - a deserted former-munitions storage area that had become the local lover’s lane. They were startled by something outside their ken - A large, winged, man-like being with glowing red eyes, according to their accounts.
They fled, with the creature in hot pursuit. Returning to town they reported the incident to the sheriff, who with other locals, followed them back to the site.
Over following days the area teemed with the curious as the hunt for the creature took on a life of its own. More witnesses turned up, and the quiet river town was besieged by newsmen and monster investigators looking to get the story on the creature. Some thought it was a bird, others thought it an angel or a demon.
Newsmen weren’t the only ones to besiege the town. The locals soon began reporting flying saucers, and the notorious Men In Black (MIB) made their trademark appearance. It was a wild and bizarre time in the heartland. John Keel, a noted Fortean writer, came to the area early on in the story. He spent weeks in Point Pleasant interviewing the witnesses and writing about the sightings. He coined the phrase Men in Black to describe the odd, oriental-looking folk who habitually showed up in UFO flap areas - usually in threes, clad in black, out-of-fashion suits.
Keel developed a close relationship with the townsfolk, and stayed in touch with them over the 14-month span of the sightings, which became increasingly bizarre as time went on. Some percipients were having dreams of impending disaster or receiving hints of some calamity that would soon occur. Then, in December 1967, events came to a head when the Silver Bridge, which spanned the Ohio River at Point Pleasant, collapsed - taking 46 people to a watery grave.
In 1973, Keel wrote a book about all of this. His The Mothman Prophecies would spark my interest in things that go bump in the night as well as eventually serving as the loose basis for the movie released this Spring. By the way, West Virginia hosted another famous monster sighting in the big flying saucer flap of 1952. The little town of Flatwoods, about 100 miles from Point Pleasant as the Mothman flies (126 miles by car), was paid a visit by a smelly, scary, floating monster on the 12th of September that year. Unlike our storied Mothman, that one wasn’t a repeater - but it did cause quite a stink.
Anyway... Point Pleasant today: It’s still a quiet, friendly town. Somewhat dwarfed and constricted by the huge bridges that span the Kanawa and Ohio Rivers. The old town area appears much as it probably did in 1966. The Lowe Hotel, built in 1901 to serve riverboat passengers, is still in operation, and is a comfortable base for those wanting to explore the area. Tu-Endie-Wei Park - scene of the first battle of the Revolutionary War, the flood wall, and much of the Main Street facades are still extant.
Outside that area there has been some decay and a shift of business away from the old downtown area. The bulk of the TNT area is still deserted, public land. The roads to the igloos are blocked for the most part with piles of dirt or cables. However, they are still accessible by foot. Most of the deserted buildings that were a focus of the original sightings have been leveled.
There’s a simple memorial at the site where the Silver Bridge once stood. It is low-key enough to be missed unless you are looking for it. The memorial on the Ohio side, at Gallipolis, is larger, but its a mile north of where the bridge actually stood. The actual crossing is a vacant lot.
As I said, it’s a friendly town that bears its notoriety with good nature. While in town I had the good fortune to meet Jeff Wamsley, proprietor of Criminal Records - a music shop that carries a full line of Mothman memorabilia. The sign in his window attracted my attention so the family and I stopped in for a look. He gave us directions to the TNT area as well as some interesting background on the life and times of Mothman.
Jeff and Donnie Sergent, Jr. have a book and CD out about the Mothman. In Mothman: The Facts Behind the Legend they gathered up some of the original eyewitness accounts and newspaper clippings of the events, as well as original correspondence from Keel to the witnesses - something not previously published. This book will be of interest to anyone who wants to understand the events surrounding the Mothman. They have an extensive website at: www.mothman.lives.com .
One curiosity from the book is the “scientistic” answer repeatedly touted in the regional newspapers of the day; that the Mothman was a Sandhill Crane. Not that anyone ever produced one in Point Pleasant. It just struck the fancy of some Junior Woodchuck professor. There is always someone willing to parrot the party line, and whether its “swamp gas” or a “Sandhill Crane” it gets picked up and repeated as fact - the easy answer. All is well...
The papers repeated the position like a mantra. There was one basic flaw with the crane hypothesis: It could never account for the cardinal characteristic of the creature. Its two glowing red eyes. Cranes have only one eye on each side of their head, making it impossible to return the double reflection every witness reported. Whether the Mothman was animal, vegetable, mineral, or some transitional spiritual being - we may never know, but it does Science a disservice to serve up off-the-cuff solutions around the edges of our understanding.
So, during my brief stay in Point Pleasant I did tap into something of how it must have felt for those monster hunters 36 years ago as I walked along the river and wandered through the TNT area - spooky with its dense growth. As I drove out of town I noticed a large number of adolescents sitting on their car hoods, talking in groups... Perhaps waiting for the next cry of “Mothman!”