A few weeks ago I took a little spooky road trip that led me from North Carolina all the way to Ohio. Along the way I mapped out a few spooky stops just for this year's Halloween Hell Show and one of those places was Point Pleasant, West Virgina, nestled right on the river bank that separates the state line of Ohio. It has a quaint little town center with more antique shops than any other practical need shops and it is what John Melloncamp probably thought of when he wrote songs while still calling himself Cougar. The perfect little American town.
But there is something a little strange about it. It felt odd there. Like you know you're the tourist and they locals know why you have come to their little sleepy town. The older people pass by you and nod with a smile and keep on moving down the street. It's hard describe but when you start looking at it through context, something happened here in the late sixties that inspired decades of conspiracy theories, book and a feature movie from Hollywood. Point Pleasant, WV is the home of a supernatural, alien or perhaps celestial being called the Mothman. And I have come to say hi.
In November of 1966, many locals in Point Pleasant, West Virginia reported a creature that would attack their cars, swoop from the trees at men working in the cemetery at night, laid blame on missing pets in backyards, mutilating farm animals and interfering with TV and radio waves. On every sighting the reports would emphasize the glowing red eyes. If that wasn't scary enough, people would also report imagery telepathically communicated to them of a horrific incident that would later be realized when the Silver Bridge collapsed in December of that same year, killing 46 people. After that, sightings of the Mothman ceased until recently, in 2006.
There have been many theories to what was terrifying this little town that early winter. During the Mothman sightings people began to report numerous UFO sightings as well including visits from the "Men In Black" who would show up in government cars, dressed in black suits with sunglasses and interview people of interest. As mysterious as the Mothman was, these people where of even a more peculiar phenomenon. Who were they? What were they hiding or trying to keep hidden? Why West Virginia? Do horses wear horse socks? Is anybody listening?
In the 1975 Jon Keel wrote a book that captured the imaginations of millions with The Mothman Prophecies claiming the two months of Mothman sightings led up to the collapse of the Silver Bridge and it was all supernatural. All of it. Most critics believe it was just a big bird that migrated off course but the kid in everyone want to believe this cryptid came from the beyond. Demon to some, angle to others. How fun!
So, I had to stop by and see for myself and I was NOT disappointed. All too often I come to these spooky destinations and and leave saying, "that was it?". This was not the case with Point Pleasant. They really embrace that part of their history.
When you first drive in you get to see this...okay let's say it, bizarre statue of a giant silver bug-man with red eyes. It is completely out of place if you had no idea the history in this town. I have seen some pretty fantastic eccentric art in odd places but to see something that looks like the love child of Silver Surfer and The Fly, that is something unique.
So you know they have a museum dedicated to The Mothman with all of it's folklore and it is so worth the $11 admission. It quite possibly has every artifact, clue and report associated with this period of time. It also has all the movie props from the Richard Gere film based on John Keel's book, The Mothman Prophesies which I did see in the theatre but I have no recollection of. I will say, after visiting this museum and now writing about it, I should probably give it another gander.
It's pretty fun to see how far they went to making sure every prop in that film gets its own time to shine. From the 1990-era photos of the actors to creepy lip balm, this curator left nothing by the wayside. I am surprised they didn't have a half eaten sandwich persevered that Richard Gere left behind at a diner. But hell, when Hollywood makes a movie in a little town whose only other claim to fame was an American-Indian battle, you ride that wave!
I made a short little video so you can explore the museum from the comfort of your couch and it's for free!
The museum was great, the little History Channel on a loop program was cool, the Mothman crane game in the middle of hilarious mannequins of the Mothman made me happy and they have their own energy drinks and beers so if I wanted anything more from this, I would have been a total asshole. But just when I thought this day was a win, I had no idea what winning truly was because right down the street was a diner that captures the very essence of The Casserole of Disaster.
Harris Steakhouse aka The Mothman Diner made this trip worth it! I am not going to say it is because the food is good. I am not going to say it has a high FDA inspection grade (I didn't want to think about that). I am not going to say that if you counted the number of teeth in everyone's head eating there you would have a full set. But I will say, the heart, hilarity and atmosphere made this one of my all time favorite dining experiences. The supernatural with burger combinations is a religion of mine.
I was a little hesitant when I entered because this place had the organization of a city hit by a tsunami. There were old news papers, cigarette displays, Mothman trinkets, stuffed roosters, yellow stained walls and soda ads from the mid-70's. Not that these were bad things but when they are all placed within a foot of each other, it does something to the brain that tells a person not to eat here. Actually, don't even buy gum here. But it was too late. I had walked in and the sweetest old lady met me as if to say, "Thank you for coming and having lunch. We haven't had a visitor since the great flood of '06". So, what's the harm in a cup of coffee and maybe some fries? Anyone can make fries without killing someone? Right?
So I sat down and she brought some menus and BOOM! There is was! The Mothman Burger. Holy shit, they have a "world famous" Mothman burger based off the supernatural creature who terrified this town. When you go to Amityville you order the "Jody". When you go to Questa Verde you order the "Only Moved the Headstone" pizza" When you go to a restaurant in Georgetown next to The Exorcist stairs, you order the damn pea soup. (Pretty sure none of those things are real) My point is, that's what you do and if there is a Mothman burger and I am in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, I am eating the Mothman burger. It's principle.
So I ordered the Mothman burger and the sweet waitress refilled my coffee and we chatted for THIRTY MINUTES about how they were forced to stop smoking inside the restaurant leading to a big decline in business. I didn't have the heart to inform her the latest surgeon general warnings. She then went to the back and fired up the grill and I walked around the little diner taking in all the madness.
The walls are covered in patron's art. Mostly kids with their ideas of what the Mothman looks like when eating sandwiches. Some were a little more cynical than others but I loved thinking about a little five year old drawing supernatural bug men while eating fries. America, damnit!
The only thing I wish I didn't do was peer into the kitchen. I had to. Not because I wanted to but the bathroom was halfway in there which lead to another concern. But, I was already committed and to run out the door screaming, "The shitter is in the kitchen!" doesn't make for a very interesting Halloween Hell Show. I'll die for my art.
Well, the Mothman burger finally arrived. Putting on a brave face I took a bite while the waitress looked at me, nodding and smiling a bit too wide. I gave her the thumbs up as if to say, "this is a burger". But it was different. It was like a meatloaf with Big Mac sauce. I know that would make most of you vurp in your mouth but I didn't mind it. I just kept saying to myself, "This is a burger based off a horror movie and supernatural event. This is your Mona Lisa. You can put it in your pocket if you want. I don't know, Will."
Finishing most of it, I got the bill and headed to the counter to pay. There I spotted a shark head promo for Slim Jim and being the weirdo that I am I asked how much for the display to which the sweet old lady responded, "How much you got?". I paid the bill and headed out the door, now a little worried I just ate a burger from a sweet but sly lady that cooked it in a kitchen that looked like an oil change garage.
I got in the car and headed to the west, passing over the famous bridge that collapsed fifty years earlier, foretold by a red-eyed winged demon from the netherworld. There is a picture showing what looks to be the Mothman taken on that very bridge recently. No one has been able to debunk this picture yet. So what do you think? I choose to think it's real. But then again, I think ghosts are real and believe everything in infomercials so take with it what you will.
Fun little side note, I stopped completely out of my way in the town of Athen's Ohio to shoot some more video for the Hell Show. Looking at Yelp I saw there was a brewery with awesome reviews so I made a trip there and found my twitter pal, Perky with her boyfriend. That is crazy! I drove 45 minutes randomly off course and bumped into those two who were on a mini-vacation themselves. What a crazy small word this is! That day kept getting better from then on, but I will show you that later on in the 2016 Halloween Hell Show.
Thanks for stopping by and reading about the Mothman, burgers and Richard Gere. If you aren't already give me shout and a like over at the Casserole of Disaster's Facebook page. I'm doing some fun spooky things that you can be apart of soon!
Oh yeah, here is my Mothman crane machine win and my Halloween cat, Binx, really appreciates her Mothman.