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Mothman and Other Curious Encounters Point here for more book info
Loren Coleman

Paraview Press, 2002
ISBN: 1931044-34-1
Unexplained Mysteries, 210 pages
Trade Paperback $14.95

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The News Coming In


The wire service ticker was spitting out the bulletin…

Location: Point Pleasant, West Virginia
Dateline: November 15, 1966

Two young couples reported to Mason County sheriff’s department tonight they have had a curious encounter with a monster.

“It was shaped like a man, but bigger. Maybe six and a half or seven feet tall. And it had big wings folded on its back,” eyewitness Roger Scarberry told Deputy Millard Halstead. 

Roger’s wife, Linda finished his thought: “But it was those eyes that got us. It had two big red eyes, like automobile reflectors.”

The Scarberrys and another couple, Steve and Mary Mallete, had seen something strange at the abandoned World War II ammunition dump, known locally as the TNT area.

“For a minute we could only stare at it. Then it just turned and sort of shuffled towards the open door of the old power plant. We didn’t wait around.” Roger continued.

Thus began America’s first notice of a series of sightings of a strange something that would be quickly named “Mothman.” A month after the publicity began, a journalist innocently showed up in town to live among the locals, hoping to understand what was happening. During the next thirteen months, he would make five trips to Point Pleasant, staying for many weeks scrutinizing the case. The investigator’s name is John A. Keel. His experiences appeared in a series of articles and in his book on the subject, The Mothman Prophecies

Keel has been linked forever with Mothman, and he even told me recently that people can’t think of him without thinking of Mothman, although his life is much more diverse than this single group of reports. This “typecasting” will continue, as a fictional contemporary version of John Keel appears as reporter John Klein, played by Richard Gere, in the new major motion picture from Screen Gems, also starring Laura Linney, Will Patton, Debra Messing, and directed by Mark Pellington.

The impact and timing of Mothman-related events continues to amaze. Take for example, Sinema Productions' plans to interview John Keel in Point Pleasant for their 2002 documentary on Mothman. They were to fly Keel from his Manhattan home to West Virginia, to do the taping. But Keel never made it. His flight was cancelled. The date he was to fly to Mothman country—September 11, 2001.

Keel’s book and Pellington’s movie help us move these events into context. But how can we understand them? How can we fit this entity into human consciousness, let alone Homo sapiens’ history and experience? Perhaps we should merely throw aside this weird wonder as a hoax, a lover’s lane illusion, a misidentification, and go on with our lives. But we can’t. The incidents in West Virginia, we begin to discover, do not live in a vacuum. As you will learn in this book, Mothman may have more to tell us than we could have ever imagined. 

More about Mothman later, but first let’s put some of this weirdness in perspective and examine some of Mothman’s precursors.

from Chapter 9
Windows: Patterns of Place and Name

Certain areas appear to be routinely visited by Fortean events. Depending upon your interests, these locales may be called “haunted places,” “monster countries,” “spook light sites,” “triangles,” or “windows.” John Keel created the concept and indeed coined the word, as well as certainly popularizing the notion of “windows” when he first talked about them menacingly and humorously in his articles and books of the 1970s. Although he introduced the idea in UFOs: Operation Trojan Horse in 1970, most people relate the term “window” to the area around Point Pleasant, West Virginia, and Keel’s book about it, The Mothman Prophecies (1975). 

“The phenomena he records,” wrote Jerome Clark in High Strangeness (1996), “exemplify the window at its bizarre best: Over a period of many months UFO activity is frequent, sometimes so frequent that people go UFO-hunting on a nightly basis with reasonable expectations of sighting something. The sightings include events ranging from distant observations to close encounters. Paranormal activity of other sorts often amplifies as well; the Point Pleasant area was also a hotbed for encounters with men in black and a monstrous creature known as Mothman. This full panoply of phenomena accompanies some long-term, narrow-distribution waves; in others the window opens wide enough to admit only UFOs.”

Not everyone has been happy with Keel’s notion of windows. As Hilary Evans pointed out in Fortean Times: “Insofar as Keel has encouraged serious and thoughtful researchers to extend their notions of the possible, he can have done nothing but good. Insofar as has encouraged flightier minds to espouse dubious notions for which the evidence is less than adequate, he may have done more harm than good.”

Therefore, as we venture forth, searching for monsters and in mini-malls for crypto cultural artifacts (i.e. tourist trinkets reflecting the local natives capturing of a permanent or transitory phenomenal visitation or event), let us do it with caution. Some window areas like Gulf Breeze, Florida, may have more to do with the publicity machine of a local advocate of dubious UFO activity than the actual worthiness of the site. Sedona, Arizona, is another “new age” vortex that may have more to do with marketing than Forteana. Some supposed spooky sites that I will give no time to at all here are “mystery spots” and “magnetic hills” which are straightforward optical illusions. Others such as Bluff Creek, California, fifty miles deep into the wilderness, are not for the faint of heart and certainly are not a tourist trap. 

As you examine “window” areas, you will soon discover that within North America, all states and provinces can boast from two to twelve such locales, where phenomena will repeatedly appear and reappear. 

Window areas exist elsewhere around the world, of course. Certain authors, following in the Keelian tradition, have done their homework and fieldwork in chronicling these windows. For instance, Jon Downes in his books (The Owlman and Others, 1998; Only Fools and Goatsuckers, 1999; The Rising of the Moon, 1999) detailed a wide variety of winged weirdies, sky objects, monsters, phantom cats, black dogs, and other of what he calls “zooform” phenomena, from Puerto Rico to the United Kingdom to Hong Kong. Downes has noted, in particular, the 1976 flap which centered on Cornwall in the United Kingdom, and specifically pinpointing the Mothman-like episodes of the Owlman as being tied to the Mawnam Old Church. Downes and Scott Corrales (Chupacabras and Other Mysteries, 1997) have both linked the red-eyed, winged, and spiky wonders to certain special places in Puerto Rico and Mexico.

Copyright 2002 Loren Coleman


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