MOTHMAN: More unusual occurrences
Point Pleasant, West Virginia
The Curse of Cornstalk
Point Pleasant has seen its share of devastating floods and fires; some attribute it to the dying curse of the great Shawnee chieftain, Cornstalk.
On October 10, 1774 a great battle took place between Virginia militiamen led by Andrew Lewis, and a multi-tribal confederation led by the Shawnee warrior, Cornstalk; this battle took place at the confluence of the Kanawha and Ohio Rivers, later incorporated in 1794 as the town of Point Pleasant. The Native American tribesmen were duped by the British-loyalist Governor of Virginia, Lord Dunmore, into believing the militiamen were coming to sign a peace treaty. The confederation suffered a massive defeat, never to return to the area to fight again; the militiamen suffered heavy casualties also. Dunmore's intent was to divert the attention of the colonists away from independence from Britain by stirring hatred between colonists and Native Americans. Because of the British interests in the battle, some have declared this battle to be the first of the American Revolution; detractors label it the last battle of the border/Indian wars.
Upon Cornstalk's demise as the result of an ambush, he reportedly with his dying breath cursed the area for 200 years. [There is some evidence that the "curse" was actually a fictitious plot element of a local play during the early 1900s.] His "words" spurred many a discussion upon each unfortunate occurrence in the town during that time span, including floods and severe fires that seemed to plague the downtown through the years, up through a cowardly, murderous hostage situation at the Mason County Courthouse in 1976.
(Photo is postcard image circa 1930 of the Cornstalk monument in its former location on the Mason County Courthouse lawn. In the early 1950s it was moved, along with the chief's remains, six blocks south to Tu-Endie-Wei State Park at the confluence of the Ohio and Kanawha Rivers, scene of the battle described above.)
Silver Bridge DisasterOn
December 15, 1967 at just after 5:00 pm the Silver Bridge spanning the Ohio River
between Point Pleasant and Kanauga, Ohio collapsed; 46 people died in the tragedy.
The rush hour travelers had been going about their daily lives, preparing for
the Christmas holiday when the structure gave way beneath them.
The bridge was constructed in
1928 as an "eyebar" suspension bridge, meaning that in place of wire cables such
as those found on the Golden Gate Bridge, the bridge used eyebars linked in a
chain from which the bridge deck was suspended. (An eyebar resembles, for all
intents and purposes, a dogbone with a hole, or "eye," in each end. These eyebars
ran in pairs linked by massive pins.)
the months following the collapse, the pieces of the bridge were recovered and
laid out like a massive jigsaw puzzle in a field just south of Point Pleasant;
all but the roadbed was recovered. Final analysis conducted by the U.S. Department
of Transportation ruled that failure of the number 13 eyebar pin, on the upriver
(north) side of the bridge and west of the Ohio tower, had failed, causing the
eyebar chain to drop below the roadway. The downriver (south) eyebar chain was
unable to support the weight of the entire structure, resulting in immediate,
complete failure of the span.
U.S. Route 35 at the time, the bridge had two twin structures: one just upriver
in St. Marys, West Virginia and one in Brazil. The St. Marys span was immediately
closed, destroyed and replaced. In 1969, a new bridge was completed just south
of Point Pleasant and Route 35 was relocated to the south side of the Kanawha
River, following the path of the former WV State Route 17. The former Route 35
was renumbered as WV State Route 62.
(The image above is taken from an early postcard illustration. The view is from the Point Pleasant ramp looking west towards Kanauga, Ohio. The photo is taken above the former intersection of U.S. Route 35 and Main Street, adjacent to the Mason County Courthouse. The railroad bridge in the background is still standing and still in use by Conrail. It dates from early this century, originally part of the Kanawha & Michigan Railroad and later used by the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway. In 1914, a U.S. Government anti-trust suit forced the C&O to divest the line; it then served the New York Central Railway, later Penn Central and Conrail, and now Norfolk Southern.)