History Uncovered Episode 93:
The Mothman And The Silver Bridge Collapse

Published November 3, 2023

After the Silver Bridge collapsed into the Ohio River and killed 46 people in December 1967, some claimed that a mysterious visitor known as the Mothman had visited them to warn of the impending tragedy.

On December 15, 1967, tragedy struck the Silver Bridge connecting Point Pleasant, West Virginia, and Gallipolis, Ohio. It was the late afternoon rush hour and dozens of cars were packed bumper-to-bumper up and down the length of the bridge.

Then, without warning, the bridge collapsed into the Ohio River. Thirty one vehicles plunged into the frigid water below, taking 64 people down with them. Of those 64, 46 lost their lives – and two of the bodies were never even found.

But this strange and sudden tragedy became all the more bizarre when witnesses soon reported having seen a mysterious creature in the region surrounding Point Pleasant leading up to the disaster.

The creature was described as standing roughly seven feet tall, with large, red, glowing eyes. Locals came to call this creature the Mothman – and the day of the Silver Bridge collapse was not the first time he had been spotted.

The Mothman

Wikimedia CommonsThe Mothman, with a height comparison against an average human adult.

In fact, the first sighting of the Mothman came just over one year earlier, when gravediggers working in a cemetery in Clendenin, West Virginia spotted what they described as a “brown human being” soaring over their heads, moving rapidly from tree to tree.

Three days later, two couples in Point Pleasant noticed a white-winged creature, about six or seven feet tall, standing in front of the car they were all sitting in. Two of the witnesses later claimed that the beast had bright red eyes about six inches apart, a 10-foot wingspan, and that it apparently wanted to avoid their car’s bright headlights.

The witnesses also claimed that the Mothman could fly at staggering speeds – possibly as fast as 100 miles per hour – as it chased their car along the road to the outskirts of town before flying off into a nearby field.

Journalists, meanwhile, were skeptical. They referred to the alleged Mothman as either a bird, or simply a large creature, though a few did report one witness’ claim that it “was like a man with wings.”

It didn’t take long, however, for more stories of the Mothman to begin circulating. Within a week of the first claims, The Gettysburg Times reported eight additional sightings, including two volunteer firefighters who claimed to have seen “a very large bird with large red eyes.”

A man named Newell Partridge, who lived in the nearby town of Salem, West Virginia, said he too had an encounter with the Mothman. He claimed that strange patterns had appeared on his television screen one night when he heard an odd noise outside his house. Aiming a flashlight in the direction of the sound, he said he saw two red eyes like bike reflectors staring back at him – and that shortly after, his dog disappeared.

To this day, stories of the Mothman hold a chilling place in the history of Point Pleasant. Many continue to speculate that the Mothman may have been a harbinger, warning the residents of Point Pleasant about the impending doom of the Silver Bridge collapse.

Learn all about the legend of the Mothman that allegedly terrorized West Virginia.

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