Happy Birthday, John A. Keel (and Cryptomundo founder Craig Woolheater).
It is another good day to think about Mothman Country, and share some more photos from my recent trip there.
The owner of The Point Gift and Souvenir Shop and someone else (do you recognize the Mothman?) enjoy a fine afternoon on Main Street.
When I visited Point Pleasant, West Virginia, at the end of 2001 and the beginning of 2002, I suggested to Ruth Finley at the Lowe Hotel and Jeff Wamsley of Criminal Records that Point Pleasant should think about turning one of the empty storefronts on Main Street into a Mothman Museum. I told them that after the release of the movie Roswell, over a million people visited the little Roswell UFO Museum in the tiny town of Roswell, New Mexico. I mentioned that the same thing could happen in Point Pleasant.
Research for my then-forthcoming book called for an onsite visit. It was apparent the depressed economy in Point Pleasant in 2001 needed a boost. Mothman could be that magic for the town.
I’m not saying this to get credit for anything, as I consider independent invention to be a fact of life. The idea for a Mothman Museum is a no-brainer for Point Pleasant, and it might have already been in the air when I visited. My hosts could have just been polite, as they nodded to my crazy talk of a museum.
Soon after the release of the movie in 2002, I was happy to hear that Jeff Wamsley turned part of his music and teeshirt store, Criminal Records over to Mothman. Much later, I was overjoyed to learn of his creation of the Mothman Museum in 2006.
Furthermore, the addition of the Mothman statue to Gunn Park, just down the street from the Mothman Museum and across the way from the Lowe Hotel was a wise use of urban beautification and improvement funding.
Rush Finley, who purchased the site in 1990, along with his wife Ruth, still run the Lowe Hotel.
Carol Harris receives Mothman’s mail at the Harris Steak House.
The River Museum (above), which now houses the owl killed during the Mothman flap of 1966-1967, is a key attraction too. The owl was supposedly the property of the Mothman Museum, and allegedly loaned to the River Museum, but rumor in town is that the River Museum is refusing to give it back. Who knows the truth of such matters? The River Museum does not really acknowledge Mothman, but they have a room dedicated to the Silver Bridge and its collapse. The over 20-ft-long exact replica of the Silver Bridge, complete with the models of the cars on it on December 15, 1967, right before it fell, is worth the price of admission alone.
In 2011, along with the Mothman Festival, plus the attention given to the draw of Mothman by shops like The Point and the Harris Steak Shop, the town is going in the right direction.
There have been some refinements of the plan, however. After the explosion last year at the TNT site, because, surprise, surprise, the government is still using the bunkers there for explosives storage, tours of the area are no longer scheduled or even encouraged. The danger of the TNT area remains today.
But the Mothman Museum is a must-stop on your tour of Point Pleasant. Newspaper articles from the time are displayed, as well as actual objects from The Mothman Prophecies movie and other unique items.
In Point Pleasant, where John A. Keel is praised as a near-god, way beyond his birthday on March 25th, the Mothman Museum is the location of several Keelian iconic artifacts. None is more significant that the actual white suit Keel wore the day the Mothman statue was dedicated. The “white” of the suit was Keel’s little joke, as he made the “Men in Black,” well-known for their black suits, quite famous.
When in Point Pleasant, make a few stops. Say hi to the friendly folks. Spend a little money. Keep this quiet river town alive.
Of course, I did have to smile at the fact that the Mothman Museum and the International Cryptozoology Museum each separately have a used copy of Laura Linney’s Point Pleasant Police uniform that she wore as the character “Connie” in the movie, The Mothman Prophecies (2002). In terms of movie props, her outfit is important, obviously.
Funny what you’ll find in similar museums that appreciate Mothman.
One classic location stands empty in Point Pleasant – the old State Theater. If I had the money, I’d buy it and run Mothman movies and 1930s films, non-stop. The building is an Art Deco treasure. Hopefully, someone will save it.
All photographs (except the Laura Linney promotional ones) are © Loren Coleman/International Cryptozoology Museum 2011.