Monday, June 29, 2009
Point Pleasant is a place I've been waiting to go, not only to cover for my book, but as a sort of pilgrimage for a girl who loves a good cryptoid story.
We arrived in Point Pleasant around 11 a.m. on a Saturday. Feeling a little sheepish, we got out of the car near the Silver Bridge collapse site memorial to take photos. We felt the eyes of the locals on us as I lined up my shot. Boy, I thought. They must really get sick of gawkers.
But my initial impression was wrong. Not only were there tons of other people posing by various sites and buying armfuls of memorbilia, the townspeople seemed to be eating it up. And why not? I'm sure it brings in a ton of money.
Our next stop was a souvenir shop, almost exactly across the street from the memorial, where we saw quite a few people congregating. Turns out, we weren't the only ones who were in town to see the sights.
Inside The Point (the name of the shop), we found every sort of trinket from shot glasses to plush Mothmen. As we waited to check out, we heard the owner giving the woman in front of us instructions on how to get to the TNT igloos which were used during WWII and later became the hotspot for Mothman sightings. We were intrigued, as we had heard they were not accessible or open to the public. My husband asked the owner if he had another map, and the nice man proceeded to not only give us the map, but also give us detailed instructions for finding the igloos, draw a diagram, tell us stories that involved ancient Shawnee burial grounds and show us photos take by other visitors. Needless to say, I was intrigued.
Past feeling silly for being tourists, as we had seen many others in town for the same reasons, we found the Mothman statue near The Point and took some photos. My husband asked if I wanted to go to the TNT area, to which I replied "Hell yeah I do!"
Now, I must explain that I am a skeptic but enjoy these types of things for their folkloric value. That being said, our visit to the TNT bunkers made me uneasy to the point where I no longer wanted to linger despite being interested in poking around as we drove to the abandoned, desolate part of the nature preserve where they are located.
We located the guardrail the man at the store had described. It seemed like we walked forever between a thick, overgrown forest on our right and a foul, stagnant pond to our left. I had gone a few feet too far when my husband called out from behind me, "Hey, I think this is it!"
It was. Through a short, thick tunnel of vines and mud, we found the entrance to the first igloo. It was more bizarre than I expected. And bigger. Much bigger.
The odd thing was, we walked in cautiously, as not to disturb the people inside because, well, we both felt like there were going to be people inside. There weren't.
The man at the store explained that energy travels from one igloo to another and that we should take photos inside. Keeping an open mind, we did that. We saw nothing, but it was still unsettling. The detailed Mothman grafitti and empty black powder cans alluded to the area's past. Everything echoed all around us, from a deep exhale to our footsteps in the dark.
We traveled to the next one, this time down a longer, darker tunnel of foilage. We passed the owners of the cars we saw in the pulloff where we parked, which made us feel a little better. Then we went in. This one made me most uneasy. It seemed to sit back slightly more and it was more overgrown. I felt like if I was going to see anything that day, this was going to be where. I didn't see a thing, but the uneasiness grew.
We found the third one but didn't linger. It was hot, we were alone in the middle of nowhere and it was getting weirder by the minute.
On our way back, green snake passed beneath my foot, between it and my flip-flop. Having little fear of snakes, I simply shook it out, but my husband yelped in surprise and we had a good laugh. It was when the commotion was over that I started to feel really odd. "Do you feel weird?" I asked him. "Someone is back here watching people," he said. Well, those were my thoughts exactly and we decided to hightail it.
We passed the two other igloos quickly, not stopping to take another peek. The pond was making an odd crackling noise, sometimes sounding like knocks on a door. We felt like there were eyes on us.
We're both logical, rational people and we know very well that there could be cameras around there or even people hiding to play a trick. No matter what gave us that sensation, though, it was enough to give us pause and to make us drive away quickly.
I plan to scan the map soon and share it; it's not a good place for small kids and you should be careful of various hazards. I'm glad we visited but maybe next time it will be in a larger group--safety in numbers.