In the late 1990s, I was asked to pen a book of West Virginia folklore. I opted instead to create my own tales based on local legends. But other legends are more closely grounded in the soil of West Virginia. Maybe you haven’t heard such tales. Perhaps you’re planning a trip to the state. Well, folks, you’ve been warned. What follows is the top five mountain monsters you may encounter in West Virginia. My advice? Educate yourself. Speak kindly to folks you meet. And stick to the road.
No. 1: Mothman
The granddaddy of all West Virginia monsters, Mothman has gained worldwide notoriety. Much of the mythology surrounding the creature is tied to the deadly 1967 collapse of the Silver Bridge, which spanned the Ohio River at Point Pleasant, West Virginia. Some claim its appearance was a harbinger of the collapse, during which 46 motorists lost their lives in the icy river. But the story goes back further. Tales of the Mothman likely began when five men digging a grave at Clendenin, near Charleston, West Virginia, claimed to have seen a man-like creature glide silently over their heads. Its eyes glowed like red coals, according to the tale.
“Word spread quickly, and, shortly thereafter, two young couples out driving in what is now the McClintic Wildlife Management Area, near Point Pleasant, saw what they described as a man with ten-foot wings and red, glowing eyes. They told police that the creature followed their car.
Over the next few weeks, accounts of such a creature poured into the local police station. More than 100 claims were recorded. What is known is that all sightings ceased following the collapse of the Silver Bridge, which led some to speculate that the sightings and disaster were related. The legend was further sensationalized in 1975 by the publication of the John Keel novel “The Mothman Prophecies.” The book popularized the legend of “Men in Black” and the 1997 film by that name and the 2002 film “The Mothman Prophecies.
What the Mothman might be remains a mystery. Some say it was nothing more than a large migratory bird. Others believe it was an alien. Others say it was an angel or a supernatural harbinger of death. Read also: Visit the Mothman Museum
Click Box 2 below to encounter the next monster.