West Virginia As Written By A Real West Virginian, August 2008
Berkeley Springs, Jerry West, Looking for Ancestors, The Mothman Museum
Page 2


From 1890 to 1992, the Mail Pouch chewing tobacco company rented barns for their billboards. The company that now owns Mail Pouch ended their barn advertising in 1992, when their last barn painter, Harley Warrick (who painted about 20,000 barns), retired. These barns can be found in Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, South Carolina, Tennessee, Wisconsin, WV and California.

Berkeley Springs is another old city. In fact, George Washington came here to bathe in the hot mineral springs that still draw visitors today. We didn't have time to partake, but I did wade in the water. I felt better immediately.

I don't know anything about this theater other than that it looks cool.

A boy plays in one of the waterways that direct water from one of the springs into the bathhouses and spa. See how happy he is? Must be all those minerals.

This is:
(a) A souvenir commemorating the Berkeley Springs Pitchfork Massacre of 1911.
(b) A poor attempt at recreating the American Gothic painting with just one person.
(c) A purchase that is sure to distract airline security from the liquids in my carry-on bag.

He takes a photo of the Rosie O’Donnell doll but not the Donny and Marie dolls. Go figure.

(*note:  I forgot.  -Ken)

Berkeley Springs offers two popular paths to enlightenment.

West Virginia University has bronzified one of its greatest athletes. We actually drove about 10 miles out of our way to see this. For you non-basketball people: Jerry West is one of the most popular players in NBA history. He played for and later managed the Lakers, and the NBA logo is actually his silhouette. I like my photo better:

Ken hates to pass up an opportunity to make people look like statues. Mary Wade, Jerry and Ken. Them are some big balls.

We visited my Aunt Mildred so that I could rummage through some old family photos. I’ve been doing genealogical research for several years now, and I wanted to add some photos to a family tree website that I occasionally work on. Aunt Mildred is my mom’s only surviving sibling and I don’t visit her as often as I should. Here she proudly displays embarrassing childhood photos of me.

Nobody visits Point Pleasant, but if you happen to be driving to Ohio or WV via Route 35, drop into this comatose little river town and visit the Mothman Museum. Despite the city’s attempts to reinvigorate itself by promoting its Revolutionary War and Native American history, the most fascinating aspect of the city – to the dismay of its town fathers – is Mothman.

IIn 1966 and 1967, area residents reported sightings of a winged, man-sized creature with large reflective red eyes and large moth-like wings. Some witnesses claimed that they were visited by men in black suits who warned them to stop talking about their experiences. UFO sightings were reported in the area around the same time.

In December 1967, the Silver Bridge, which spanned the Ohio River between Point Pleasant and Ohio, collapsed and killed 46 people. Sightings of Mothman ceased soon afterward, leading people to believe that Mothman appeared either to warn them about the Silver Bridge disaster or to cause it.

John Keel wrote the definitive book on the subject, The Mothman Prophecies, which was later made into a movie with Richard Gere. The museum has props from the film as well as newspaper and magazine clippings, videos and other information. Museum owner Jeff Walmsley launched an annual Mothman Festival in 2006, with attendance growing yearly. Along with Mothman costume contests, a powerlifting competition and a Miss Mothman beauty pageant, visitors can talk with a few of the original eyewitnesses and attend a panel discussion of authors, experts and paranormal investigators.

This is co-curator Jeremy Pitchford, a very friendly and knowledgeable guy.

Lisa's Rule for Living #25: Never pass up an opportunity to get photographed with a wooden cutout.

We met the director of the Point Pleasant Chamber of Commerce while taking photos in the new riverfront park. He was happy to see “tourists” in the park, where painters are creating giant murals of local historic events, and he discussed the town’s plans to play up its history to boost tourism and enliven the local economy. As we said goodbye, we mentioned that we were looking for the Mothman statue.

“Yeah, everybody comes to see Mothman,” he said wistfully.

“Well, if people come to see Mothman, they’ll learn about these other things once they’re here,” I offered optimistically. I didn’t want to hurt his feelings, especially since he was so proud of the town’s progress, but I think Point Pleasant should embrace its paranormal past and capitalize on Mothman, captured forever here in stainless steel by local artist Robert Roach.

West Virginia As Written By A Real West Virginian, August 2008


1     3

West Virginia 2008
Eleven Shadows Travel Page
Contact photographer/musician Ken Lee

eleven shadows eleven shadows