As World War II was ending, an area just outside of Point Pleasant, WV was converted into an ordinance and munitions area. 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene, or TNT, was manufactured here for use in explosives and stored in the massive concrete domes scattered across the land commonly referred to as “igloos.” The project was short lived, beginning in 1943 and ending in 1945, the area, now called the McClintock Wildlife Management Area, was closed down allowing for nature to reclaim the land with decontamination efforts not beginning until the early 1980’s as production of TNT is highly toxic. Many buildings were demolished but some stand today, including the igloos.
Many people are drawn to the area by the mothman legend, a creature with the power to foretell disasterous events, said to be the size of a man with giant wings and glowing red eyes. I’m not going to delve into the backstory behind the mothman, I’m not expert on the legend and it was never something that particularly interested me, but if you would like to learn about the mothman, there are plenty of resources online and I encourage you to seek those out.
Most of the images you find taken in the area focus on the creepy undertones that play into the mythology and conspiracies surrounding the place. I’ve decided to go in a different direction with my photos, although I found playing into some of these undertones to not be completely inescapable and I do have a tendency to lean toward the melancholy or tragic. Having grown up in Point Pleasant during the 80’s and 90’s, you were always exposed to scary stories about the TNT area that range from the mothman to other mutated creatures from the toxic environment, to secret orgies and KKK rallies; it was just a place you would mostly avoid, especially at night.
Maybe there’s a grain of truth to all those stories. However, with the increased popularity of the TNT area due to the movie The Mothman Prophesies, you’re more likely to encounter a tourist than a mutated creature; but the decrepitness of the igloos and other abandoned, overgrown structures can still leave you with an aura of creepiness that once inhabited this lost place in time and it feels especially true in winter when the skeletal trees reveal the naked landscape dotted with the bumpy rows of earth that cover the underground storage bunkers.
I’ve spent several hours here at night, alone, often in complete darkness, and have never felt a reason to fear anything. I sat for an hour in complete silence in the dirt beside a lily pond watching the stars and the light show of fire flies against a dark, abyssal blanket of trees one night and rarely felt more at peace.