The Mothman Prophecies

10th September 2021. Reading Time: 12 minutes Conspiracy Theories, Famous Paranormal Cases, General. 327 page views. 0 comments.

The Mothman has become somewhat of an urban legend with a festival now honouring the creature each year and a large worldwide following all wondering, is the Mothman real?  What is even more intriguing is once you start down the rabbit hole of this case, it goes much deeper and much weirder than a moth-like creature.  UFO sightings and even the Men in Black. Is it all connected?  Let's dive in.

I first became aware of The Mothman Prophecies during a movie night a couple of decades ago.  It is a fantastic movie and I don't really need to say much because most people have at least heard of the movie.  What you may not realise however, is that it is based on the very real book The Mothman Prophecies covering real events that were reported to have happened in the town of Point Pleasant West Virginia which ended in a tragic event.  The Mothman has become somewhat of an urban legend with a festival now honouring the creature each year and a large worldwide following all wondering, is the Mothman real?  What is even more intriguing is once you start down the rabbit hole of this case, it goes much deeper and much weirder than a moth-like creature.  UFO sightings and even the Men in Black. Is it all connected?  Let's dive in.


The lights bobbed away from the building and the startled foursome saw they were attached to some huge animal. 

"It was shaped like a man, but bigger," Roger said later.  "Maybe six and a half or seven feet tall.  And it had big wings folded against its back." 

"But it was those eyes that got us, " Linda declared.  "It had two big eyes like automobile reflectors."

"They were hypnotic," Roger continued, "For a minute we could only stare at it.  I could not take my eyes off it."

It was grayish in colour and walked on sturdy manlike legs.  It turned slowly and shuffled toward the door of the generator plant which was ajar and hanging off its hinges.

"Let's get out of here!" Steve yelled.

Roger stepped on the gas and they shot through the gates, spun onto the exit road and headed for Route 62.

Suddenly they saw it, or another one like it, standing on a small hill near the road.  As they hurtled past it, it spread its batlike wings and took off straight up into the air ...

The Mothman Prophecies by John  A Keel (1975)

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons


In November 1966, workers in a cemetery at Clendenin, West Virginia saw a strange figure in the trees above their heads.  A couple of days later, 2 couples from Point Pleasant claimed they were chased by a large creature with 10 foot wings and glowing red eyes while driving near a former military munitions site just outside of town.  Over the next year, residents of Point Pleasant reported similar sightings with this moth man like creature.  Newspapers ran stories with accounts from locals all seeing this mysterious creature.  It all culminated in December of 1967 when the Silver Bridge in Point Pleasant which stood above the Ohio river collapsed during peak hour.  46 people died that day.  After this incident, the sightings stopped with many believing the Mothman was a form of omen.  This connection was originally made by author John A Keel, writer of the book The Mothman Prophecies. It was his book published in 1975 that turned the Mothman into a Worldwide phenomenon which even inspired the 2002 movie of the same name. 

While the book reads like fiction, Keel states that it includes real accounts and interviews with residents of Point Pleasant painting a much stranger picture than what it seems on the surface.  It wasn't just Mothman that was terrorising the town over the 13 months prior to the tragedy, it seems it was the centre of a lot of unexplained supernatural activity.

Sightings of Mothman

After the initial report from the graveyard workers, there were close to a reported 100 accounts of sightings of Mothman.  Many however are unverified so the total number of sightings is unknown.  Newspapers ran accounts from witnesses of the weird creature with Red Eyes. 

Friday 18th November 1966

Gettysburg Times Thursday 1st December 1966

As mentioned above one of the more popular rationalised theories is that the Mothman could simply be a Sandhill Crane.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

The Sandhill Crane is quite a large bird with a 10-foot wingspan and stands almost as tall as a human.  Notably, you will also notice the red around the eyes.  It is not a bird that was native to West Virginia, however, if the bird strayed from its migration path, locals would not recognise this as being a familiar species.  Could it just be a case of mistaken identity?

Strange craft in the sky

Author John Keel collected many different accounts collected during the 13 months prior to this tragedy which included many UFO type encounters and sightings.

"In March 1966, a shapely housewife, whom I will call Mrs Kelly because she asked that her name be withheld, was waiting in her car for her children near the Point Pleasant school when she saw an unbelievable apparition low in the sky.  It looked like a glistening metal disk and was hovering directly above the school playground.  a doorlike aperture was open at its rim and there was a man standing outside the object in the midair!  He wore a silvery skin-tight costume and had very long silvery hair.  He was looking down into the schoolyard intently.  She watched him for a long moment until her children bounded up to the car.  When she looked again, the man and object were gone.  She decided not to tell anyone about this strange vision, attaching religious significance to it.

... Not one person bothered to report a UFO sighting to the law or press in Point Pleasant, although there were such sightings all summer long."

The Mothman Prophecies by John  A Keel (1975)

Indrid Cold 

On Wednesday the 2nd of November 1966, salesman Woodrow Derenberger was driving home from Ohio at around 7:30pm.  It was on Route 77 in Parkersburg West Virginia driving his Red Truck that he had a strange encounter.  He saw a cigar-shaped craft.  The craft blocked the road in front of him causing him to pull over to the side of the road.  It hovered around 12 inches off the ground.  It was then a door to the craft opened and a being approached his truck.  The 'being' looked like an ordinary human man described as being around 35 years old, dark brown hair, olive complexion with a metallic blue coat.  He began to speak to Derenberger, however, he didn't use his mouth.  He communicated telepathically.  What followed was a 10-minute telepathic conversation where the being Cold who was a 'searcher'.  He meant no harm and finished by saying "Mr. Derenberger, we will see you again".  He then boarded the craft and left.

Derenberger reported his encounter to the police and spoke to the media.  Witnesses proceeded to come forward corroborating his story seeing Deremberge pulled over to the side of the road talking to a man and also seeing the strange lights in the sky.  Many withheld their names and wished to remain anonymous.  Some also saw the craft on the side of the road.  

Here is a video with the audio tapes of Derenerger's media interview about Indrid Cold.  

Derenberger claims he was visited by Cold many more times and was even taken on Cold's ship to see his home planet.  His family reported he would sometimes be missing for up to 6 months while he was away with Cold.  He would also show up on Derengerger's doorstep with his wife and Children stating they had also seen Cold and other beings.  His wife was frightened that the beings appeared to look like humans, driving in cars and wearing everyday clothes.  On other occasions, Derenberger received telepathic messages from his friend Cold which would come suddenly and leave him with debilitating migraines afterward.  After many interactions including curing a stomach ailment with special medicine, Cold then introduced his first name - Indrid.

Some of the strangest occurrences were the phone calls to the house.  They were accompanied by threats to stop speaking publicly about his experiences.  There were also weird electrical noises like beeps and hums with no one on the other end.   They changed their number to an unlisted number, but the calls continued.  

As word spread, locals would camp out at the property hoping to see Indrid Cold.   Men dressed in black suits paid Derenberger a visit with shotguns in tow, again warning him not to speak about his encounters.  Eventually, Derenberger decided to see a psychiatrist who gave him a clean bill of health and was said to of received his own call after his session with Derenberger from a gentleman called Indrid Cold!

Residents of Point Pleasant were continuing to experience sightings of weird craft in the sky.  They also spoke of the same weird interference or noises on their telephone lines.  Sometimes the phone would ring with no one on the line and other times beeping like it was transmitting a form of morse code.  Mary Hyre who worked for the local newspaper would often take down people's accounts.  One such story was from a man who reported his experience in November of 1966.  He suffered from insomnia after his encounter and suffered from strange nightmares when he could sleep.  He and a workmate had sighted a craft earlier that month.  A few days after he reported this story, the man's son rang Mary asking her not to run the story.  Keel who was in town investigating the claims called the son from Mary's office. 

"He verified the details and then said  "Look, don't use my name.  I don't want to get involved in this thing.  That science fella told me - "

"What scientist?" I asked. 

"A couple of weeks after this thing happened, a scientist from Ohio came to see us.  He told us it would be better if we forget the whole thing." 

"How did he hear about it?  How did he find you?"

"Damned if I know"

"Did he identify himself?" 

"Sure ... but I can't remember his name.  But he seemed to know what he was talking about".

The Mothman Prophecies by John  A Keel (1975)

What is interesting about this particular story, is that the original UFO sighting happened on the same night as Woodrow Derenberger had his encounter on a different road.

In addition to the UFO sightings, many residents were still also having their own Mothman sightings - some during the day and others at night.  They too were receiving strange phone calls with no one else on the end with either high pitched noises or heavy breathing on the other end.  Residents started noticing what they called 'The strange ones' around town talking to people, taking notes with notepads and pens with some wearing what seemed to be a wire recording conversations.  Notes were found under people's doors telling them "We know what you have seen and we know that you have talked.  You better keep your mouth shut! " 

Between the sightings on UFOS, Mothman and Indrid Cold a lot seemed to be happening in this very quiet town.

Something bad is going to happen

On November 2nd 1967, Mrs Virginia Thomas had her own sighting of Mothman during the day.  After the sighting, she had nightmares in what seemed to be an act of precognition. 

"I see a lot of strange people around the river .. It's like some kind of invasion or something.  They come over the bridge in trucks and they pour into the TNT area.  We grab the kids and run.  I can't figure out what it means.". 

Over the coming days, residents spoke to Keel that there was just a foreboding feeling in the air.  They felt like something was going to happen.  In his own research, Keel thought there would be some sort of major blackout that would occur on the 15th of December 1967.  It was that day that the Silver Bridge collapsed.  Mary Hyre from the local newspaper who worked closely with Keel had reported a local had seen two men dressed in checkered coats and black trousers climbing the bridge just days prior.  She had been having the dreams as well and wondered, with the UFO and Mothman sightings connected to the tragedy?  Of course, we don't know the answer, but as Mary said "Some things are just meant to be.  You can't change the future ... even when you know what is going to happen". 

The Mothman Festival

Regardless of what the truth behind the legend really is, the myth of the Mothman has become somewhat iconic.  With a museum in the town of Point Pleasant and a 24 Hour webcam set upon the popular Mothman statue, the myth behind the Mothman is as popular as ever.  Every year, people come from all over the World to attend a festival with speakers, stalls, bands, food and sorts of Mothman paraphernalia.  

Mothman Festival is an annual event held every third weekend in September that commemorates the 1966 Point Pleasant, West Virginia Mothman sighting, which gave birth to the infamous red-eyed winged legend.  People from all over the world gather around our charming Main Street to celebrate their favorite cryptid during this one of a kind event. https://www.mothmanfestival.com/

Image Source: Mothman Musuem

Keel finishes his book noting that most of the people who had a sighting of the Mothman died within 6 months.  Others who had encounters with the Men In Black were a shell of the people they once were and 'broken in spirit'.  Were the Mothman and the UFO sightings connected?  Did they in some way give the residents a form of warning?  Some have speculated that the encounters helped to unlock certain abilities in people such as telepathy and precognition causing them to see visions of the future through dreams.  Others believe it is a case of mass hysteria with the hype and power of suggestion fueling town paranoia.  There have since been a handful of 'mothman' sightings over the last couple of decades all over the World that have been believed to have been widely faked and photoshopped.  It doesn't however stop people from trying to discover the truth of what really happened in that small little town.

So what do you think?  Is the Mothman myth real or just a case of mistaken identity? 


References

The Mothman Prophecies by John  A Keel (1975)

https://www.mothmanfestival.com/

https://www.mothmanmuseum.com/pt-pleasant.html

https://allthatsinteresting.com/mothman

https://www.sinistercoffeeandcreamery.com/blog/mothman

https://themothman.fandom.com/wiki/TheMothman_Wiki

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