1966 – POINT PLEASANT, WEST VIRGINIA, USA
The most famous entity here, Mothman is considered by some to be more “cryptid” (mysterious animal) than “alien,” but it shares many of the strange qualities reported in alien encounters, including intense, luminous eyes and a sickening, seemingly radioactive aura. The first publicized sighting came from two couples, Roger and Linda Scarberry and Steve and Mary Mallette, who were passing an old TNT factory on November 15 when they spied a pair of red lights near a generator plant. Curious to see what could be lit up at the long abandoned site, they stopped the car and discovered that the lights were actually huge, reflector-like eyes set in the chest of a seemingly headless figure, six to seven feet tall with huge wings folded against its back and a covering of black fur or feathers. When they returned to their car and fled, they spotted the creature on a hillside moments later, which shot into the air and followed their car closely until they reached Point Pleasant city limits, sometimes exceeding 100 miles an hour. As they entered the city, Scarberry noticed the body of a large dog lying by the road, and returned later to see if it belonged to anyone, finding it had vanished. This is around where the story gets creepier.
Earlier that same evening, Salem building contractor Newell Partridge had supposedly been at home watching television when the screen distorted into a strange pattern and he heard a loud whine from outside “like a generator winding up.” He heard his hunting dog, Bandit, howling in the front yard and went outside to see his beloved companion staring at a pair of luminous red circles by the hay barn. The dog bolted in pursuit of the inhuman eyes, and would never be seen again. Two days later, he read about the TNT plant sighting in the local paper, including the statement about the dead dog, and was certain Bandit had been killed by the strange monster.
The following night, again before the Scarberry and Mallette story had been published, Mrs. Marcella Bennet spied a “funny red light” hovering above the TNT plant, and drove with her baby to the home of Ralph Thomas and his family. When she got out of her car, a “big gray figure” with “terrible glowing eyes” rose up from the ground near her, frightening her into dropping her daughter. She scooped up the infant and ran to the house, where the whole family reported the creature shuffling around their porch and peering into windows. Mrs. Bennet was so terrified by the incident that she sought counseling for months, and claimed to hear mysterious shrieks near her home.
With the publication of these accounts, Mothman madness gripped Point Pleasant with over 100 alleged witnesses to the creature itself and other curious phenomenon, including UFO activity and even mysterious “Men In Black” harrassing locals. The hysteria (if that’s all we can really chalk it up to) began to fade by the following year, but came to an abrupt end on December 15, 1967, when 46 people were killed in the collapse of the Ohio river bridge. Mysterious lights were reported over the TNT plant that same dark night, and more “Men In Black” were reported through Christmas weekend, but never again would a Mothman encounter make local news.
Even if every “alien” encounter is a mere fabrication or hallucination, creatures like the ominous mothman, the invincible goblins and those smelly amoeboids deserve to be remembered just as fondly as the manticore, the cockatrice and the gorgon. They’re the demons, fairies and youkai of a society more jaded by science, and it’s almost depressing that close encounters gradually homogenized into the same silvery humanoids. Please, if you ever feel the need to spread a sensational story about a space monster…give it some bug-eyes and tentacles. Support cryptodiversity.