AROUND THE BEND: Pt. Pleasant's Mothman Festival, Men In Black, Silver Bridge Disaster


Mothman images overtake Pt. Pleasants real historic significance

By Bob Weaver

Pt. Pleasant WV has leveraged myths, tales and truth from the 1960s about an illusive creature, men in black and the tragic collapse of the Silver Bridge into the Mothman Festival, which draws several thousand people to the town every September.

The fanciful myths far out shadow the town's significant Revolutionary War historical attractions.

The twisted tales have spawned well-known and highly profitable Hollywood films, including the "Mothman Prophecies" and sequels of "Men in Black."

Visiting the Mothman Museum in the center of town with a $3 entry fee, lacking was a tribute to West Virginia's most masterful hoaxer Gray Barker, upon which the whole spiel is based.

The material was created by Barker's enterprising hand in the 1950s and 1960s, admittedly going to any length to make a few dollars with his magazines and books.

Barker's tales have been re-twisted into even greater fiction for the new millennium, bizarre events reshaped into fantasy.

Barker, who struggled to stave off starvation and died penniless in 1984, might have had some good years if he lived, millions upon millions of dollars amassed from his pulp books.

Most of the current day material was the stepchild of Barker's 1956 book "They Knew Too Much About Flying Saucers."

Barker hawked his books and magazines for three decades by admittedly embellishing stories, admitted in a conversation I had with him in the 1970s.

See related story GRAY BARKER WAS MASTER HOAXER - Braxton Native Created "Men In Black"

Barker took UFOlogy as a joke, although there is some evidence related to many sightings.

Visiting the Mothman Museum, there was a sense of sadness that the hoaxer missed the boat of fame and fortune.