The following is an article titled ''Mothman' still a frighteningly big draw for tourists' published in The Star on Saturday January 19th 2008
POINT PLEASANT, W.VA. – His name is on signs, in shop windows and restaurants, and he even has his own museum. The sculpture in the middle of town depicts his enormous wings and glowing red eyes.
More than 40 years after the first reported sighting of the mysterious creature later dubbed "Mothman," residents here have embraced his legend, helping to turn the town into a tourist destination.
But while there's no local consensus about whether the stories are true, most agree that Mothman is good for business.
"It's helped the town," said Ruth Finley, who owns the 106-year-old Lowe Hotel on Main St. along with her husband. "People come because of Mothman and they stay at the hotel, they go to the restaurants."
The first sighting was reported on Nov. 15, 1966, by a group of people in an area of town known as TNT, the site of a former World War II munitions plant. Others said later that they'd seen a gray creature about two metres tall with bright red eyes and wings like a bird.
The sightings ended abruptly on Dec. 15, 1967, the day of the collapse of the Silver Bridge, which linked Point Pleasant to Ohio. Forty-six people were killed, and since then people have speculated the sightings were connected.
Walking along Main St., conventioneers can have their picture taken near the statue, drink a "Mothman Frappachino" in a local café and drop into the Mothman Museum.
Inside, they can look over everything from handwritten eyewitness accounts of Mothman sightings to voluminous newspaper clippings to props from the 2002 Richard Gere film The Mothman Prophecies.
Jeremy Pitchford, an employee at the 2-year-old museum, said it's a valuable repository for a side of Point Pleasant that few were willing to even discuss until recently.
"This has been something that's been kind of suppressed, in a way," he said. "A lot of people never knew that Point Pleasant had anything like its own folklore.''
Every September, Point Pleasant hosts the weekend-long Mothman Festival, which draws about 2,000 people a year to this town of roughly 4,500. Tourists drive out to TNT hoping to catch a glimpse of the creature, but usually have to settle for the Mothman pizza made at Village Pizza. The $10 pie depicts the creature with eyes made of red and green peppers dotted by an olive pupil, mushroom wings and a pepperoni body.
It's such a classic that Bill Ward knew he had to leave it on the menu when he bought the restaurant four years ago.
"We sell a lot of them when the convention's in town," he said.
Even when it's not convention time, the town has its share of Mothman visitors, including film crews from as far away as Japan and Australia.
Recently, a crew shooting an episode for the new A&E series Paranormal State was in town.
But some chafe at the Mothman legend, pointing out the town is rich in real American history, from the Revolutionary War to the era of steamboat traffic.
"With all the history we have here, what do people come here for? That darn Mothman," said Jack Fowler, executive director of the Point Pleasant River Museum.