Channel 19

Todd Dills

The Silver Bridge, 40 years later

| December 17, 2007

Dec. 15 was the 40th anniversary of the rush-hour collapse of the Silver Bridge into the Ohio River between Point Pleasant, W.Va., and Kanauga, Ohio, killing 46 people. Reading accounts of the disaster, such as those linked from this Wikipedia entry, is depressingly like reading accounts of the 2007 I-35W bridge collapse in Minneapolis.

Through Feb. 29, the River Museum in Point Pleasant is displaying an anniversary exhibit that includes “>a model of the bridge along with a diagram showing where the cars were located, who the driver of the vehicle was and who the passengers were,” according to this press release.

John A. Keel’s 1975 book iThe Mothman Prophecies, a masterpiece of paranoia, linked the bridge’s collapse to a rash of local sightings of UFOs and a creature called “>Mothman”

Like some evil specter of death, Mothman and the UFOs had focused national attention on quiet little Point Pleasant and lured scores of reporters and investigators like myself to the Ohio River valley. When the Silver Bridge died of old age many of these same reporters returned once again to the village to revisit old friends and to share the pain of that tragic Christmas.

The final chapter of Keel’s book has a fairly straightforward account of the collapse, though Keel claims he and others had a premonition of the event, courtesy of various mysterious “>entities.”

Today Mothman has become a cherished local legend and tourist attraction. Its Wikipedia entry has a photo of Point Pleasant’s 12-foot-tall Mothman statue. strives to maintain an open forum for reader opinions. Click here to read our comment policy.

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Todd Dills

Todd Dills is Senior Editor of Overdrive magazine and writes from Nashville, Tenn. He frequently covers business, regulatory and lifestyle topics for the magazine and at His work on the “CSA’s Data Trail” series in Overdrive about the federal CSA program was awarded the highest honor in trade journalism – the “Grand Neal” – by American Business Media at the 2014 Jesse H. Neal Awards. Dills’ Channel 19 blog covers a grab bag of on-highway hearsay, owner-operator news and driver views from the roadways the nation over. His work in trucking journalism builds on a background of news feature, fiction and other creative writing and editing. Find him here at the Channel 19 blog and via his Twitter feed, or send tips to or via phone at 205-907-2481.


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