Author Archives: Marchand

Miracle Mothman

Informant Bio

My informant grew up in Ohio in the 1960s and 1970s and lived there for much of her adult life. She attended college in Bowling Green, Ohio, and lived in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio for many years. Though she now lives in California, she retains a membership to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, and has great pride in her heritage.

My informant is also a spiritual woman, though not in the religious sense. Raised Lutheran, she stopped going to church in her early 30s. She instructed her children to study many world religions and choose their own faith. She actively meditates and finds comfort in the teachings of the Buddhists, though she claims no one faith or spiritual path. She believes in some kind of higher power or energy, yet she is also very practical in her views of supernatural phenomena.

My informant told me the myth of the Mothman that she had heard while recommending to me that I watch the film about the creature that was released in 2002. She had just seen it recently and liked comparing the film to the Mothman stories she knew.

The Mothman

The myth of the Mothman that my informant told me is connected to the collapse of a bridge that crossed the Ohio River between West Virginia and Ohio in the 1960s. (My informant did not know the name of the bridge, but she was referring to the Silver Bridge collapse of 1967.) Apparently days prior to the event in the town of Point Pleasant, West Virginia where the bridge was located, sightings of a creature that looked like a man with wings and glowing red eyes were reported. According to my informant most of these sightings occurred in an off-limits area of town that had once housed a chemical plant where materials were made for the military. In spite of being cordoned off, this area was still a place where locals would go to hunt and fish. After the bridge collapse, reports of the winged man abruptly stopped.

After the fact the connection was made between the sightings and the bridge collapse. Some believed that the Mothman vision was a kind of warning. Others believe that the Mothman is a demonic creature that thrives on tragedy.

When I inquired if my informant believed the Mothman was a real creature she responded: “No, I think when there’s any great tragedy people look back and try to think of some way to explain it or learn from it.” She compared the Mothman phenomenon to belief in miracles. “People love to say, ‘oh, its a miracle that I forgot my keys and was ten minutes late to work, because otherwise I would have been in that accident on the freeway. Someone must be looking out for me.’ People like to make connections like that after the fact because it makes them feel safe somehow. Me, I kind of like to see engineers looking at the bridge and saying, ‘oh, maybe we should have replaced those rusty bolts.'” Personally, I agree with her thinking. However it is still fun to speculate about what the people of Point Pleasant were seeing in the days before the bridge collapse.

The population of Point Pleasant has embraced the Mothman myth, and now holds a Mothman festival each year.

Authored Versions

The story of the bridge collapse and Mothman sightings was recorded in a book entitled “The Mothman Prophecies” written in 1975 by John Keel. Keel’s book was published by a known publisher of pulp sci-fi novels, however Keel’s lengthy investigation in Point Pleasant resulted in a book that straddles the line between speculative fiction and non-fiction.

The book was made into a film with the same name in 2002 starring Richard Gere and Laura Linney. The film turns the event into a supernatural psychological thriller, and while it was hardly a blockbuster success, it has drawn new attention to the phenomenon. In 2011 a documentary called “Eyes of the Mothman” tracked sightings of the creature all over the world in yet another attempt to explain its appearances.


Keel, John. The Mothman Prophecies. London: Panther Books, 1975. Print.

Pellington, Mark, dir. The Mothman Prophecies. Perf. Richard Gere and Laura Linney. 2002. Columbia Tristar Home Video. DVD.

Pellowski, Matthew J., dir. Eyes of the Mothman. 2011. Payback Productions. DVD.

The House Stays in the Family

Informant Bio

My informant is a film student at USC who grew up in Pinole, California (Bay Area). She lived there with her mother, sister, and their dogs; her mother bred golden retrievers. Her mother had, and has, many friends among their neighbors, so my informant always seems to know the town gossip, even now when she is away at school.

My informant hopes to become a feature film director; her favorite film genres are historical fiction, film noir, and thriller.

The Haunted House

In Pinole there is a large Victorian house on a hilltop property that belonged to a friend of my informant’s family. The house had been built at the turn-of-the-century by the current owner’s ancestors. Other members of the owner’s family claim that the house is haunted by the previous tenants, all members of the same paternal line. Many claim to have seen familiar looking spirits roaming the halls. The family also claims that whenever a member of the current owner’s paternal line has died, a tree falls on the property.

My informant remembers that when she would visit there as a child, the house was so large and spacious that it was “spooky.” She also remembers that the house was never finished. When she used to go there with her mother the owner was actively involved in renovations, so strange things would seem to be missing or disassembled. “For a long time when I would go up there… so, the house was on a hill, so it wasn’t easy to get to, but still, for a long time there were no doorknobs. [He] took them all out. Anyone could reach their arm through the hole and open the door to come in the house.” My informant clearly found it unnerving that a man could go for so long with no doorknobs or locks on his doors.

One does not often hear these days of land remaining in an American family for generations upon generations. Clearly the story of the hauntings and the trees dying with the newly dead shows the strength of the family’s connection with that land, and their unwillingness to leave it. It doesn’t seem too far of a leap from saying that a family will never leave their property to, no member of the family (living or dead) has ever left the property.


Roses on the Pulpit

Informant Bio

My informant grew up in the small, rural town of Hanford, California. Her family owns a mill and is quite comfortably wealthy; she is very close with her parents and younger brother, and drives home from USC (where she attends school) frequently.

My informant has a strong faith in god though when she is at school she does not attend church services. When in Hanford however she attends the Lakeside Community Church, which conducts non-denominational Christian services. She was very close with her pastor there for many years, until his recent death.


Lakeside Community Church (slogan: “Come as you are”) is a small congregation with very relaxed services. The church-goers all know each other, and everyone helps out with the church’s potluck dinners and car washes, which are held to raise money for charity. These charity events are the largest events that the modest church holds.

The church does not require baptism, but does like to be involved in events like births of members’ children. So to commemorate the birth of a child, a rose is placed on the pulpit. I asked my informant if any announcement would be made during services, and she said no. Perhaps something might be put in the community newsletter at the request of the parents, but otherwise the only sign is the rose. The rose remains on the pulpit for about a week.

My informant told me that there was only one time that the rose commemorated something other than a birth, and that occurred this year. A rose quietly appeared on the pulpit on the birthday of the beloved pastor who had died the year before.

The adoption of the rose tradition to honor the loss of a loved one in the community touches me. Though I am not religious myself and I cannot know who decided or why it was decided to use the rose in this way, on some level I like to think that the gesture was an encouragement not to think of the pastor as gone, but reborn to a new form of life. It’s a comforting image in any case.

Bob’s Frieghter Jump

Informant Bio

My informant is a student at USC who hails from Detroit, Michigan. He grew up in the suburbs around Detroit, attended a private Catholic school there, and has great pride in his city. He has a large family with whom he is very close.


In the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, my informant’s family has a lake house that they use for family gatherings in the summer. His family is rather large, so these gatherings involve three or four sets of grandparents, anywhere from four to six sets of aunts and uncles, plus my informant’s parents, and up to ten of my informant’s cousins along with him and his two siblings.

At these family gatherings one year, someone brought up a story that they’d heard about a man who leapt off a freighter into Lake Michigan and had never been found. No one knew who that man was, or why he jumped. The family together tried to research the incident online, but couldn’t find a single news story that sounded similar.

Over time the story has been brought up at the gatherings and has become a joke for my informant’s family. Someone in the family decided that the man’s name was Bob, and that somehow Bob was still hanging around the Upper Peninsula. My informant’s sister along with some other young kids from a nearby lake house once came across a large slab of broken rock that they declared “Bob’s Tomb.”

The story has circulated around the lakeside community, and has become a popular legend of the Upper Peninsula. But to my informant, it remains a family joke.

Child Spirits Still Haunt the Orphanage

Informant Bio

My informant is a USC student who hails from Detroit, Michigan. He grew up in the suburbs around Detroit and attended a private Catholic school, and has great pride in his city. He has a large family with whom he is very close.

He told me this story when I asked him about childhood in Detroit. He said that though sneaking into old buildings was not a huge part of his childhood, visiting the orphanage was something that he remembers doing more than once because he and his friends wanted to see a ghost.

The Abandoned Orphanage

Near where my informant lived in Michigan he recalls a fenced off compound of brownstone buildings that as long as he could remember had never been occupied. He never gave much thought to what it was until one day when a friend of his in school asked him if he wanted to explore it with her.

They were twelve years old when my informant’s friend (I’ll call her Marie) took him into the compound. He found out from her that it had once been an orphanage, but now it was abandoned.. They slipped under the fence at a place where it had been pulled up a bit. Marie’s sixteen year old brother led the way because he had been there before.

When they got inside, Marie’s brother began to narrate their tour of the dusty, empty hallways with stories about how the place was haunted. He said that the orphanage was still haunted by the spirits of the kids who were never adopted.

My informant couldn’t remember any stories specifically, but he does remember thinking that Marie’s brother was not telling the stories well. The stories didn’t have much of a point and it soon became clear that he was only telling them to scare his younger sister.

My informant never saw a ghost in the orphanage, though he, Marie and their friends did sneak back in on other occasions without Marie’s brother. The place large and empty – and they never found anything too interesting there. Barely any furniture or other items remained. Looking back now he’s quite relieved that they never came across anyone who had decided to squat there.

Other children also had stories that they had heard about ghosts in the place, and the ghosts were always the spirits of children. However my informant claims that none of the stories told how the children died, simply that “little Susan” or “Jim Bob” was never adopted, so they haunted the empty halls, still waiting to be taken to a good home. It seems almost as if the stories imply that the children were abandoned there with the building.