Folklore Friday: Mothman's Toxic Origin Story

One of the concrete igloos that housed TNT during WWII.

One of the concrete igloos that housed TNT during WWII.

Point Pleasant, West Virginia, is a rural town, and many who witnessed the Mothman were hunters and fishermen.  This fact makes many skeptical that the residents could have been mistaking something as innocuous as an owl or sandhill crane for a seven-foot-tall monster with glowing red eyes.  However, some speculate that the creature could have been created by the nearby TNT area’s effect on local fauna, and that it was a mutated version of one of these animals that caused the Mothman phenomenon.  

 The TNT area outside of Point Pleasant was used by the Department of Defense to create dynamite for the war effort from 1942 to 1945.  The process of making TNT is highly toxic, and the industrial area, process facilities, and industrial wastewater disposal system were all contaminated.  The site was decommissioned and supposedly decontaminated in 1945, after which it was deeded to the state of West Virginia, and made into the McClintic State Wildlife Management Area.  In 1981, liquid waste produced during the TNT manufacturing process was observed near a pond in the wildlife preserve, and EPA and state investigations revealed that the groundwater and surface water were contaminated with TNT and its by-products.  The site is listed as toxic, and is currently being addressed through Federal actions.

Tobias WaylandComment