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We know a Pandemic is bad when even the Mothmen mask up.
We knew the pandemic was bad when even the Mothman masked up.

Mothman Statue

Field review by the editors.

Point Pleasant, West Virginia

In America's pantheon of monsters, Mothman is among the most celebrated and terrifying. Half-human, half-insect, he roamed the skies over Point Pleasant, West Virginia, swooping down to frighten dogs and people, leaving only a trail of screaming newspaper headlines. When his attacks stopped in the late 1960s, Mothman simply vanished. The citizens of Point Pleasant hoped that he'd never return.

Mothman statue at night.
Mothman statue at night.

Most of the world forgot about Mothman except for John Keel (1930-2009), whose 1975 investigative book, The Mothman Prophecies, was itself nearly forgotten until it was reworked as a 2002 Hollywood film starring Richard Gere. "Until that movie came out, I just never thought much more of Mothman," said Charles Humphreys, a Point Pleasant native who had hunted the creature during its 1960s heyday. Four decades later, Charles had become the executive director of Main Street Point Pleasant, a group tasked with reviving the town, which had fallen on hard times.

Charles realized that the movie had made Point Pleasant newsworthy again, and that gave him an idea. "All at once it just hit me," Charles said. "Point Pleasant needed a Mothman."

Not the real monster, but a statue of it -- something permanent that would outlast any media circus and attract tourists from out of town.

Charles knew a guy who could build a monster: Bob Roach (1933-2015), a retired welder who made art out of stainless steel. "I drove to his house out in the woods," said Charles, "and I said, 'Bob, you make that Mothman and you'll be known around the world.'"

Metal Mothman, Point Pleasant's friendly greeter.
Metal Mothman, Point Pleasant's friendly greeter.

Bob dismissed the idea, saying that he wasn't interested. "But I knew he had an ego," said Charles. "And the next morning he called up and asked, 'What's that Mothman look like?'"

Charles's answer was to take Bob around Point Pleasant, interviewing people who'd seen Mothman. Then Bob went to work. According to Charles, Bob built the entire statue in his garage. It took him about a year.

Unveiling the sculpture in Point Pleasant, 2003.
Bob Roach and Charles Humphreys unveil the Mothman in 2003.

The completed sculpture is undoubtedly monstrous. Mothman looks like he could tear someone in two, with upper and lower fangs, a hairy chest with six-pack abs, clawed hands and feet, and ghastly wings that rise 13 feet high. The creature has a braided mullet haircut and no visible reproductive organs. Mothman's red eyes, the size of footballs -- which Charles described as "beautiful" -- are mirrored inside so that they glow at night in reflected light (Or in daylight with a camera flash).

Despite the biologically improbable appearance of the statue, Charles said that it's an "honest" depiction of Mothman taken from the memories of local eyewitnesses, not a fantasy concocted by Bob Roach. "The people who saw it said that's what they saw, or close to it."

Many of the residents of Point Pleasant were leery about the return of Mothman, especially since Charles had insisted that the statue be erected in the heart of downtown. Only a small group of onlookers witnessed Bob and Charles unveil it on September 13, 2003. John Keel was the guest of honor. Charles was delighted. Bob kept his opinions to himself, even after a plaque identifying him as the sculptor was attached to Mothman's pedestal. "He never did say much," said Charles. "But I could tell from his eyes that he was so proud of that Mothman."

Mothmen Prophecies author John Keel signs books at the 2003 unveiling.
Mothmen Prophecies author John Keel signs books at the 2003 unveiling.

To the surprise of just about everyone in town, Mothman proved to be popular, just as Charles said he would. People started traveling to Point Pleasant to see Bob's statue, so many that a Mothman Museum opened across the street in 2006 (Among its exhibits is the white suit that John Keel wore to the statue dedication). The sculpture also became the focal point of Point Pleasant's annual Mothman Festival, now visited by upwards of 15,000 people every September. "I've never seen anything like that Mothman to draw people," said Charles. "I don't care how cold it is, there's people here every day. They come from all over just to get their picture with him."

Mothman looms at night.
Despite his fearsome fangs, Mothman ate no human victims.

Mothman became such an icon that in 2020 he was the subject of an online petition, calling for the replacement of America's many Confederate monuments "with statues of celebrated American figures, primarily the Mothman." The Mothman statue was cited as "a prime representation of what is really important in American culture and history." The petition was signed by thousands of people.

America, or at least a certain segment of it, clearly yearns for another Mothman. But there was one -- and only one -- Mothman statue, and Bob Roach is no longer available to make more. The one in Point Pleasant will have to do.

Fortunately, Bob built his stainless steel Mothman to last. "It's strong as an ox and looks like it was put up yesterday," said Charles. "I didn't lie to Bob. He'll be known around the world forever."

Also see: Creatures Guide: Mothman | West Virginia's Other Monster

Mothman Statue

400 Main St., Point Pleasant, WV
Downtown, in the median of 4th St., one block west of its intersection with WV-62/Viand St.
RA Rates:
The Best
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

Mothman MuseumMothman Museum, Point Pleasant, WV - < 1 mi.
Patriotic Mothman MuralPatriotic Mothman Mural, Point Pleasant, WV - < 1 mi.
Stainless Steel PioneersStainless Steel Pioneers, Point Pleasant, WV - < 1 mi.
In the region:
Water Monster's Daughter, Hurricane, WV - 29 mi.

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