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Episode 20: A Curse Upon All

The Mountain Mysteries

Episode 20

Curse Upon All

The Mountain Mystery of Goatman

There is a beautiful trail that winds through a park and under a bridge in Louisville. In looks it is unimpressive compared to the stories that surround it. It’s a historic spot that's been around since the 1800s. The bridge was built in the late 1800s and stands 90 feet above the creek and ground below. Trains do continue to frequent the bridge today.

The bridge is the home of the Pope Lick Monster, aka The Goatman.

When you mention the Goatman there’s a good chance someone will know what you’re talking about. Here we cover our local Goatman and some of the most popular goatlike creatures that roam the mountains. A search of the internet returns several Goatman locations. There are several locations in Texas, North Carolina, Maryland, and Kentucky that all report sightings. There’s even a Goatman residing in The Los Angeles National Forest.

A trestle bridge on the Norfolk Southern Railway which passes over the Pope Lick Creek in Kentucky. Supposedly the monster has the body of a man and the lower torso of a goat or sheep. It is also said to have short horns protruding from its forehead. According to differing reports the goat-man either uses hypnosis or some sort of siren voice to lure people onto the train tracks where they are then run-down by passing by locomotives. It is also said he can mimic voices—the voices of loved ones luring victims to their deaths. In other stories, the goat-man drops down onto passing cars from within the trestles.

There’s no clear consensus on how the Goat Man came to be — some say he was a circus performer; others say he was a farmer who tortured his goats for Satan, and in return was transformed into a hideous goat monster.

The Sierra Club says, the Pope Lick Monster was “exhibited as a circus freak in the late 19th century, escaping captivity when lightning struck the circus train and left him the lone survivor.” In 2014, local historian David Domine described the creature as something born out of a deal with the devil. He told Louisville’s WAVE news that: “The goat man arose as a tale of a local farmer back in the day. Tortured a herd of goats for Satan and signed a contract with him and forfeited his soul.” Domine depicts a muscular being that’s “part goat maybe even part sheep.”

“The Sheepman is something only told around here; it’s been around at least three generations,” filmmaker Ron Schildknecht told Louisville paper The New Voice in 1990. Schildknecht created a 16-minute short, “The Legend of the Pope Lick Monster,” that appears to come straight from the yarns a young Kentuckian might spin to impress a date — a part-sheep satyr that can hypnotize its victims, leaving them helpless in front of oncoming trains.

However, everyone does agree on his appearance: dark fur, pale skin, goat like legs, and horns.

The monster is said to hide under the bridge at Pope Lick Creek in Louisville to lure people onto the train tracks, only to see them be hit by oncoming trains. Sadly, this urban legend has had some dangerous consequences. Most victim’s stories start the same. They were curious about the truth concerning the Pope Lick monster. In 1984, a young boy fell to his death, avoiding the train. Thirteen years later, another young boy met the same fate.

The trestle became a popular site for teens and lovers excited about the monster. Thrill-seekers wanting to see if the legend is true. Witnesses have reported accounts of people who fell off the bridge. Other victims failing to get off of the tracks in time were killed by oncoming trains. Many more were injured in the attempt at discovering the truth behind the goat man. Those that believe in the power of hypnosis say the monster did it. That the goat-man influenced those people and made them climb to their deaths.

In 2016, an Ohio woman fell to her death from the bridge while looking for the Goat Man. Roquel Bain and her boyfriend traveled to Kentucky for an innocent bit of thrill-seeking — a tour of Waverly Hills Sanatorium, a former tuberculosis clinic turned haunted house. While they were in Louisville, they heard of another occult story, one which they decided to investigate in the twilight hours before their tour: the Pope Lick Monster.

By the time the young couple spotted the locomotive, bearing down the railroad trestle at over 30 miles an hour, they had no choice. There was an 8-story drop on either side, and no way to outrun the train to the trestle’s end, the pair’s only hope was to cling to the sides of the tracks. The train engineer attempted to slow down and blared the horn. The boyfriend on the tracks managed to make the split-second dive to the edge. There wasn’t enough time for his partner though, the train fatally struck Roquel, and she fell nearly 100 feet to the ground.

In 2019, another accident happened involving teens looking for the monster. Savanna Bright, 15, was died after she and her friend were on the train tracks near the Pope Lick trestle. Bright's unidentified friend had to be taken to University of Louisville Hospital as she was in critical condition at the time.

The Courier Journal reported in 2016 that a retired train engineer who regularly drove down the old track, Wayne Gentry, was involved in 43 collisions during his 34-year career with Norfolk Southern, only one of which was a suicide.

Jeffersontown Fire Department, said that they can recall at least half a dozen accidents that involved the tracks, and most of those cases involved teenagers.

The pope lick monster was so popular that a haunted house group has built an extraction around it. Trains still rattle across the aging bridge and foolish trespassers have been known to be struck by the locomotives or fall off the bridge while climbing the trestles. Legend or no, the Pope Lick Monster may have claimed more lives than most myths.

The Pope Lick Monster is not the only goat man, and some have more of a supernatural spin on them. Moving away from the fisher town of Louisville Kentucky towards a fishing state of Maryland we find another notorious goat man.

This goat man comes from the depth of Maryland. He allegedly wields an axe, kills teens, eats dogs, and screams like a shrill goat. According to University of Maryland folklorist Barry Pearson, the Goat man legend began "long, long, long" ago and were further popularized in 1971 when the death of a dog was blamed on Goat man by local residents.

This goat man also has a story of how the Maryland goat man came to be. According to local legend, there was once a scientist working at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center and his job included experimenting with animal DNA. One day an experiment went horribly wrong when goat DNA came into contact with the scientist's blood. The man mutated into a horrifying half-goat, half-man, craving a thirst for blood.

The first reported sighting of the Goatman was in 1957. Eyewitnesses reported seeing it in Forestville and Upper Marlboro in Prince George's County. It wasn't until the 1960s that the first violent encounter would take place. The story goes that a young couple went to Fletchertown Road and were being bothered by something in the woods. The young man got out of the car to investigate, but he never came back. When an investigation occurred the next day, his severed head was found hanging in a tree above where the car had been parked. His body was never found.

Another unbelievably violent encounter supposedly took place in 1962. The Goatman was accused of killing 14 people, 12 of whom were children, with the other two being adult chaperones. The group was evidently hiking too close to the Goat man’s home. Unidentified survivors claimed that the Goatman hacked the victims to pieces with an axe, making noises "only the devil himself" would make. When police arrived, they found half-eaten limbs and a bloody trail leading to a cave. As might be expected, there is no record of this event actually occurring.

The most famous incident involving the Maryland Goat man occurred in 1971. It was at this point that the article "Residents Fear Goatman Lives: Dog Found Decapitated in Old Bowie" written by Karen Hosler appeared in Prince George's County News. In this article, Hosler described how a family by the name of Edwards had lost their dog, Ginger. Ginger was found by Ray Hayden, John Hayden, and Willie Gheen a few days after going missing. She was found headless near Fletchertown Road.

Hosler's article connected the death of Ginger to the Maryland Goat man because a group of teenage girls, which included 16-year-old April Edwards, had heard strange noises, and seen a large creature the night the dog had disappeared.

Stories of the Goatman had been around in the '50s and '60s, but the incident with Ginger in the '70s caused heightened interest in the creature. During this time, searching for the Goatman was a local teen obsession, and "Goatman parties" were even held. It was also during this time that there were increased sightings of an "animal-like creature that walks on its hind legs" along Fletchertown Road.

Mark Opsasnick, who grew up during this period, wrote an article for Strange Magazine titled "On the Trail of the Goatman." For this article, he interviewed the Edwards family and the three men who found Ginger. John Hayden told Opsasnick that they'd seen an animal that night, and he described it as about six feet tall, hairy, and walking on two feet. He also mentioned that it made a "high-pitched sound, like a squeal."

The Governor Bridge, otherwise known as the "Cry Baby" Bridge, is also known as a place for the Goatman. If one parks under the bridge at night, they'll supposedly hear a crying baby or a goat braying, or they'll even see the Goatman himself.

As far as taking the Goatman legend into the modern day, two movies have been made starring the creature, 2011's Deadly Detour: The Goat Man Murders and 2013's Legend of the Goatman. And as far as more recent claimed sightings, the station WBAL-TV received two separate emails about an animal at Montpelier Park in Laurel, Maryland. One woman described it as looking like a "Sasquatch with horns." Another man said he thought he saw a bear, "except it doesn't look like a bear." The article described the photo as looking like a goat standing on two legs.

In Waterford Pennsylvania there is an abominable creature called the Waterford Sheepman. It terrorized the small rural town in the early 1970s. It lurked in farm fields, stalking the unwitting animal in a desire to tear it apart and feed on its flesh and blood. Hundreds of people witnessed this creature, some also referred to it as Goatman.

Marylin knew of the goat-man legend as a teenager in the 70s; but along with the stories, she had also seen it with her own eyes on more than one occasion. “I lived on Baghdad Road, and I saw this figure running across the dirt road at one point near the old sawmill.” She remembers that at the time there was much talk about the legend, with many people catching a glimpse of the creature darting across the road or into the brush along farm fields. She had a second encounter with the monster when she was 17, “He was there that one night I drove home and right before I turned into my driveway, there he was, running across the road and into the woods.”

Waterford native Richard Galbraith knows the legend well, and as a child he was told, “Don’t let the Sheep-man get ya!” He was warned to avoid the area of Pennsylvania Route 19 on the outskirts of the city at night, or else the same fate would befall him that happened to so many unwitting animals; the blood crazed sheepman would tear him apart. Richard was wise to take the warnings to heart; for there were many alleged incidents of the sheepman violently attacking humans as well as ravaging livestock.

Herb Kinney, a Waterford native and businessman, knew the terror of the sheep-man firsthand. He had a friend who was a victim of the ungodly creature as it lay wait for him on top of the Waterford covered bridge on Niemeyer Road that spans LeBoeuf creek. Herb recounts the story in his own words:

“It was always said the sheepman lived in a cave on Baghdad Road. He was know to frequent the covered bridge south east of town on East street. He was said to hide up in the rafters of the old bridge and jump down and terrorize young lovers that had parked in the bridge.

Two couples from Erie were traveling into the bridge late one summer night in a dark blue Ford Mustang convertible with the top down. It had started to sprinkle so the pulled inside the bridge to put the top down when they were attacked. The boys fought off the creature and peeled out filling the bridge with smoke from the burning rubber of their tires. The roof to the car was damaged ripped torn and mangled to the point it had to be replaced. All for of the young people insisted the incident really happened, telling the tale to their parents. The parents fearing embarrassment and would not allow any police report to be filed.”

Nevertheless, the countryside surrounding Waterford was abuzz in the 1970s with stories and sightings of the creature known as sheepman. It seemed the legend faded with the decade for there have not been any sightings of this Goatman creature since the close of the 70s.

In West Virginia there are reports of a Sheepsquatch, or "White Thing", it is a woolly-haired cryptid reported across numerous counties in West Virginia, predominantly within the southwestern region of the state. The counties with the most sightings are Boone, Kanawha, Putnam and Mason, with a surge in sightings taking place in Boone County during the mid-1990s.

It is described as being a quadruped about the size of a bear, with entirely white wool-like fur. It has a long and pointed head, similar to a dog but with long, saber-like teeth and a single-pint set of horns not dissimilar from those found on a young goat. Its forelimbs end in paw-like hands, similar to those of a raccoon but larger, while its tail is long and hairless like that of an opossum. It is reputed to smell like sulfur, which has been attributed through folklore to the beast being born within the TNT Area in Mason County like one of the Mothman theories, though this is not likely and instead may be a musk scent gland similar to those found in many species in the order Carnivora such as weasels and skunks.

In 1994, a former Navy seaman stated having witnessed the beast breaking through the forest. The white thing breached the brush line and knelt to drink from the creek. Here it drank for a few minutes before crossing the creek and continuing on toward the nearby road. The witness stated that they observed the animal for a while before it moved on into the surrounding brush.

Within the same year, two children observed the creature while playing in their yard within Boone County. What they reported having observed looked like a large white bear yet in this case stood up on its hind legs, making it over six feet tall (presumably it did so in a manner similar to bears trying to observe as opposed to walking bipedally). Startled by the children, the beast ran off through the forest, breaking medium-sized limbs off of trees in its path.

The creature was next spotted a year later, this time involving a car. A couple driving through Boone County observed a large white beast sitting in the ditch alongside the roadway. As many curious passersby might do in such a situation, they stopped their car to get a better look at it. They came to describe the creature again as mostly similar to earlier descriptions, yet they added that the creature had "four eyes". In stark contrast to the last sighting where the Sheepsquatch fled the scene, the creature leaped out of the ditch and started to attack the car. Frightened by the attack, the couple drove off quickly, and once they arrived back at home noticed large scratches on the side where the beast had attacked.

Another incident in 1999 involved a couple of campers who were in the forest at night, again in Boone County, around a bonfire. They eventually heard an animal snorting and scuffling around the camp in a manner similar to an aggravated bear, though it did not come into the light of the campfire immediately. All of a sudden the Sheepsquatch suddenly charged out of the darkness at the campers. Reacting quickly, they jumped up and ran back into their house, all the while being pursued by the Sheepsquatch (giving chase is a natural reaction of a predator when a creature flees; its initial "attack" could have simply been a mock charge). The white thing stopped at the edge of the forest when they crossed it and let out a "terrible scream". It then turned around and headed back into the woods. The next morning, the campers returned to their campsite and the trail home, finding it to be torn up; they referred to it as "like someone had tilled it up for gardening".

In Fulks Run, Virginia, the beast was spotted once again in the forests of Appalachia. The creature was spotted close to midnight by six campers, spending the night in the dense woods. The beast was reportedly 8-9 feet tall with a shoulder length of 4-5 feet. One of the campers first saw the beast at the top of the near by hill, in a crouching position. Then it stood up, and he alerted the other campers. Then it started running down the steep hill toward the campers, but they were separated by the river that was flowing through. They look in horror as it searched for a way to cross, and with no other option, began to wade through the river. It finally came out of the water, and the campers reported that it appeared like a bipedal dog in the chest, with its fur wet from the river crossing. Then a loud gut-based screech was heard about two miles off from where they were. Then the Sheepsquatch looked up in shock, just high enough so the moonlight was in its face, and the campers looked on in fear as it let out a pathetic whimper, then in a sprint, ran in the opposite direction of the noise. The campers quickly packed and left, then reported it to the locals, fearing that if the authorities were informed, they would be ridiculed. The identity of the campers is unknown as of March 2016.

In Texan folklore, the Lake Worth Monster is a legendary creature said to inhabit Lake Worth at the Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge, just outside Fort Worth. The creature is often described as a "part-man, part-goat" with scales and long clawed fingers.

Reports of sightings by local citizens of "a half-man, half-goat, with fur and scales" in July 1969 led to the belief that a mysterious creature lived in Lake Worth. Newspapers reported the alleged sightings, including one in which the monster landed on a man's car after jumping out of a tree, and another in which it threw an automobile tire at a group of people. Newspapers also published a photograph purportedly taken of the creature by Allen Plaster, and locals began driving out to the lake at night to get a look at it. Local police investigated the claims, but found no evidence of the monster in the Lake Worth and Greer Island area. According to one reporter, the Goatman legend was spread via summer camp stories, where camp counselors told children to “listen carefully...and you’ll hear his cry on clear nights like tonight”.

In a later interview, Allen Plaster commented on the photo, described as a man-sized "white furball", that he took while driving past the Nature Center in 1969. Plaster characterized the sighting as a prank, saying, “whatever it was, it wanted to be seen". Since reports of the monster ceased when school resumed, many suspected the incidents were pranks carried out by high school students. In 2005, a reporter at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram received an anonymous letter from someone claiming to be one of three high school classmates who, in the summer of 1969, "decided to go out to Lake Worth and scare people" using a tinfoil mask. In 2009, Fort Worth, Texas magazine published a report about an unidentified man who said that he had been a perpetrator of the tire-throwing incident.

Cryptozoologist-blogger Craig Woolheater said he believes the Lake Worth monster is an "undiscovered, uncataloged primate species that walks on two legs".

Since 2009 (the 40th anniversary of the sightings), the Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge has held a Lake Worth Monster Bash each October.

The Sheepsquatch was featured in the Destination America series Monsters and Mysteries in America, where it was encountered by a couple of hunters after it had killed their dogs the time prior.

Wisconsin has several locations where Goatman has been sighted or his presence has been felt. According to one, the Goatman lived in a house at the end of a dead-end road called South Mill Road, and across a field in Kewaskum, WI. He was a child killer and would murder any children who went into the fields surrounding or into his house. It is said the dilapidated house that remains and the field surrounding it, is haunted by the Goatman.

If Jason Miller of Washington County is to be believed, then there's definitely more flesh than folklore behind the caprine creeper.

It was the Autumn of 2003, and Mr. Miller was prepared for a pleasant day of bow hunting. He had set up his tree stand just off of South Mill Road. After this, he returned a few days later only to be met with confusion when he saw that his tree stand had somehow been moved. It had been taken down from the tree and placed down approximately a hundred yards away from where it had originally been set up. There were marks on it that he would later describe as resembling hoofprints. Irritated, Jason chalked it up to a prank played by one of his fellow hunters and the tracks of a regular animal such as a deer. He put the stand back up in the original tree, and once again left to return a few weeks later. This time the stand hadn't been moved - but he was about to be confronted with something far stranger than mysterious tree stand relocation...

He clambered up the tree and perched in the tree stand, sitting there in the hope of spotting a trophy buck. Perhaps he thought that he was in luck when he started to hear the distinctive sounds of something large moving through the thick undergrowth. This something sounded angry. Peering off into the brush, Jason caught sight of the source of the strange noises - and then promptly wished he hadn't. The thing was the size of a deer and was grey and tan in color. Up to the head and the forelimbs, it looked just like an ordinary goat - but its arms and head were distinctively that of a human. This head was adorned with a long, grey beard. He presumably gagged as the stench of the creature hit him - it was described as smelling like 'rotting flesh and garbage all mixed into one'.

However, perhaps the oddest thing about it was the fact that it was speaking. More specifically, it was swearing and cursing under its breath as it shambled into the clearing. It muttered something about 'trespassers' and Jason stayed deadly still - waiting with his bow at the ready in case the bizarre thing noticed him in his tree stand. The monster seemingly passed through the clearing and disappeared into the undergrowth without incident if the lack of description of its departure is extrapolated upon. Jason kept an arrow ready for self-defense, but immediately left the forest as soon as the beast was out of sight.

Mixing the two stories of this Goatman together the main legend speaks of how supposedly an abusive old drunk murdered his wife but was ultimately killed by one of his goats as he continued his rampage. They say he returned as a goatlike apparition and haunts the woods where he lived. This is the area where Jason Miller claims to have witnessed a goatlike biped.

Goatman researcher J. Nathan Couch believes the legends of Goatman likely originated from sightings of a depression era vagabond named Charles “Goatman” McCarthy. He was an eccentric, bearded Christian preacher that roamed America for decades, pulled along in a rickety wagon by a team of Goats. In several cases, I’ve found that McCarthy visited various locations where Goatman monster legends would eventually exist. He was a celebrity during his day, with his travels regularly covered by the Associated Press. His travels attracted large groups of curiosity seekers. Stories of McCarthy could have mutated over the decades. As for what sort of creature eyewitnesses are allegedly seeing, given the creatures’ tendencies to display seemingly supernatural abilities, and their uncanny knack for avoiding human beings when they apparently live on the outskirts of suburbia, I’d say they have to be some sort of paranormal entity rather than flesh and blood.

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