Point Pleasant, West Virginia

Point Pleasant West Virginia sign

On a recent trip to southern Ohio, we found ourselves in Gallipolis, Ohio, a small town on the state border. We crossed the Ohio River on the Silver Memorial Bridge into Point Pleasant, West Virginia.

The Silver Bridge

The two towns share a tragic history. On December 15, 1967 the Silver Bridge, which spans the Ohio River and connects the two towns, collapsed. The collapse occurred and rush hour and during the busy holiday shopping season.

The bridge was originally constructed in 1928 as an eyebar-chain suspension bridge. It got it’s name, the Silver Bridge, from the color of the aluminum paint used on its finish. The bridge carried US Route 35 across the river linking the two towns.

The bridge was designed at a time when vehicles were considerably lighter, and bumper to bumper traffic was much less common. In fact, the average automobile weighed just 1500 pounds at the time of the bridge construction, with trucks and heavy vehicles weighing in around 20,000 pounds. By contrast, the weight of the average family vehicle at the time of the bridge collapse was just around 4000 pounds, with some trucks tipping the scales at over 60,000 pounds.

Railroad bridge over the Ohio River
View of Ohio and the Ohio River from Riverside Park at Point Pleasant, West Virginia

The failure that brought down the bridge was the failure of a single eyebar. After much investigation, the fault was found to be a small defect, just 0.1 inches deep.
The tragedy took 32 vehicles to the bottom of the Ohio River and resulted in the deaths of 46 people. For those living in the small communities on the banks of the river, these were family, neighbors and friends.

The story of the Silver Bridge is an interesting one, I recommend a look back from the Herald-Dispatch, a local paper. Published in 2009 it features photos and first hand accounts from people who were near the bridge when it failed.


If you don’t remember the Silver Bridge collapse, you may remember the Mothman. Legend has it that starting in the fall of 1966, a winged-humanoid creature began terrorizing the residents of Point Pleasant.

Residents began reporting sightings of a large, man-like bird with glowing red eyes. Some blamed occurrences such a a buzzing television and a missing dog on the creature. Others attempted to explain the phenomenon. One scientist concluded that the creature was likely a sandhill crane that had become lost. Another guessed that it might be a large owl carrying prey.

The Mothman statue in Point Pleasant, West Virginia.
The Mothman statue in Point Pleasant, West Virginia.

The story of the Mothman came to prominent culture after the release of the Hollywood movie, The Mothman Prophecies starring Richard Gere and Laura Linney. It is based on a book by the same name written by John Keel in 1975.

A cottage industry has sprung up in the Point Pleasant area. A silver statue of the Mothman was erected in the downtown area. A Mothman Museum, which recounts history in the Point Pleasant area and Mothman sightings, is open along with a souvenir store. And each September ten to twelve thousand people crowd into Point Pleasant to celebrate at the Mothman Festival.

Modern Point Pleasant

Our quick visit to West Virginia was thankfully uneventful. The Silver Memorial Bridge (which replaced the Silver Bridge in 1969) was steady and we were fortunate as to not encounter any other worldly beings.

We snapped a few pictures of the girls with the Mothman statue and took a walk along the Ohio at Riverside Park. The river was serene and beautiful and the park was lovely, with a large concrete amphitheater facing the river.

There are a number of murals painted along the city’s flood wall. They depict the history of Point Pleasant long before bridges and bird-like beings from another dimension.

Floodwall mural in Point Pleasant, West Virginia.
One of the murals along the floodwall in Point Pleasant, West Virginia.

Though this wasn’t quite an Ohio adventure, it is certainly an accessible destination for most Ohioans and in particular those living along the state’s southern border. If you’re looking for further adventures in the area, consider visiting Ohio’s Bob Evans Farms or the University of Rio Grande just north of Gallipolis.

In the meantime, we appreciate you adventuring with us and FindingOhio. And as always, if you like what you see, please share our content on social media.