December 25, 2016
Half goat, half man. A cryptid dubbed the “Goatman” has, over the years, easily become one of the most horrifying and mysterious creatures in the United States of America. Amongst the list of eerie and sometimes violent incidences that have been attributed to the Goatman are reports of animal mutilation, property destruction, ravaging of roadkill, sudden highway accidents, and even the abrupt intrusion of lovers’ trysts. This article delves into the background of this strange as well as terrifying creature which has continued to strike fear in the hearts of many.
As you can tell, the name Goatman probably says it all when imagining what this creature looks like. It is generally thought to be a hybrid beast that bears both human as well as goat-like characteristics. Apart from being consistently described to be half human and half goat, huge, foul-smelling as well as looking eerily grotesque, eye-witness accounts differ as to which half of the beast’s body is human and which half is goat!
Some swear that it has a human body with a goat’s head complete with curved horns, much like the popular portrayal of Satan while some insist it is the other way round; a creature with a goat’s lower body and a human head, which is similar to portrayals of fabled monsters in Greek mythology. The Goatman has also been attributed to drawings of the Greek God Pan except that Pan’s flute would be replaced by a deadly axe.
Another alternative description of the Goatman on record is that of an exceptionally hairy humanoid with horns roughly six feet in height. This closely resembles the description of another famous cryptid, the Sasquatch, except for the addition of horns.
Considering that tales relating to the Goatman can be found across America and are not exclusive to any region, it is hardly surprising that there are so many diverse variations of the Goatman’s origins. Of all such explanations, the following represent the most mainstream and talked about versions when delving into the origins of the Goatman.
1. Revengeful Spirit
This theory revolves around the Old Alton Bridge which was constructed in 1884, to connect the city of Lewisville to the township of Alton in Texas. In modern times, it now connects the cities of Denton and Copper Canyon. To locals, the Old Alton Bridge is also known as Goatman’s Bridge owing to the legend that surrounds supernatural sightings in the area.
According to the story, Oscar Washburn was a goat farmer who lived just north of the bridge. He was a black man living the American dream, establishing his business in just a few short years. In fact, he was acknowledged by many in the community to be a dependable, honest businessman and North Texans endearingly called him the Goatman.
Unfortunately, racial tensions were still high at that time and the success of a black man drew a lot of dissatisfaction especially from Klansmen who still peppered much of predominantly white Texas. These Klansmen took advantage of a sign Washburn had put up on the bridge that facilitated people finding his family home. One night, the Klansmen crossed the bridge in the dead of the night, violently dragged the Goatman from his family home, lynched him and threw him over the side of the bridge. However, when the Klansmen failed to see his body floating in the water, they panicked and returned to the Washburn residence, killing Washburn’s entire family in cold blood. Oscar Washburn was never seen again and was presumed dead following the attempted murder.
Since Washburn’s disappearance, there have been many strange sightings on and near the Old Alton Bridge or Goatman’s Bridge, causing many to believe that his spirit still haunts the surrounding area. To this day, the Old Alton Bridge remains open to foot traffic and is officially under surveillance by the Paranormal Investigators of North Texas and the Denton County Paranormal Investigators.
2. Escaped Beast
There are two different portrayals of the Goatman in this theory but both agree that Canada is the birthplace of this creature. This account paints a picture of the Goatman roaming in the Canadian wilderness before it was caught in the 19th Century by a travelling circus seeking to cash in on this curiosity. However, the Goatman escaped while on board a train passing through Fisherville in Kentucky, USA and has since remained in that general vicinity. The area has also given the Goatman the name “Pope Lick Monster” as he is thought to live beneath the railroad trestle bridge over Pope Lick Creek.
Where the two versions differ is the Goatman’s supposed intelligence. One portrays the Goatman as a lesser beast with a temper to match, hence the violent attacks which include murder by hacking with an axe. The other views the Goatman as more of a supernatural being, with the ability to vanish, teleport and control minds. It is said that the Goatman influences the minds of people who have the misfortune to cross paths with him, especially youths, and that he uses hypnosis or voice mimicry to lure them onto the railway tracks only to meet their deaths before an oncoming train.
3. Cursed Victim
Legend has it that the Goatman was cursed by an enemy with the face of a goat. Upon being cursed, he fled into the woods near Tucker Bridge. He is said to appear at midnight under the full moon and vent his anger and frustration by throwing rocks and running cars off roads before scurrying off in a troll-like manner.
4. Related to Bigfoot
Another lesser known theory links the Goatman to the family of Bigfoot, another mythical beast that roams the rural areas of North America. This, in essence, makes the Goatman an East Coast relative of the North American Sasquatch. It is said that this theory is indirectly perpetuated by those who incidentally also believe in the existence of Bigfoot.
5. Experimental Mishap
Perhaps the most bizarre yet intriguing tale of them all is the claim that the Goatman is the result of a ghastly experiment at the Beltsville Research Agricultural Center (BRAC). It is said that most of the sprawling and wooded 6,600 acres that make up the BRAC (the largest undeveloped open space near Washington, D.C.) are closed to the public because of secret underground laboratories equipped with state of the art modern scientific technology. One of these is supposed to be the Goatman’s birthplace. Depending on who you speak to, there are two versions at play although both maintain that the Goatman is the result of a top-secret experiment approved by Washington, D.C. and conducted by the local authorities which went tragically wrong.
One story states that the Goatman was originally a scientist who was conducting experiments on animals so that he could improve on human physical abilities. Unfortunately for him, an experiment with a goat went horribly wrong when a power failure resulted in the scientist becoming a monster, some parts of him man and other parts goat. As with all government conspiracy theories, such a disastrous mishap was covered up and the poor deformed scientist was locked up. It is believed that there were occasions when the Goatman successfully escaped, hence the sightings. However, being unable to return to civilised society, he would always return to his hidden prison cell within the BRAC.
The other version believes the Goatman was transformed from a goat in an experiment. Typical of any monster created from a secret scientific experiment, it escaped the research centre after causing much property damage and killing the scientist, his assistants and security personnel. Naturally, this creature remains elusive and has yet to be captured.
Despite the issuance of an official denial by the BRAC, this claim remains a strong point of contention due to intense speculation and public attention.
There are so many Goatman sightings from various localities across the region that it is nearly impossible to keep them straight. However, according to Mark Opsasnick, a historian, author and the foremost expert on the Maryland legend of the Goatman, it is widely accepted that the Goatman’s rise to fame began on Fletchertown Road in Bowie. This is where it gained its first media mention by appearing in the Bowie-based Prince George’s County News on 27th October 1971. Being the first report in print, this was the stepping stone that triggered more and more media attention. Prior to this, tales about the Goatman were pretty much confined to their own region.
This maiden print report was written by Karen Hosler, who was looking for a new angle for a Halloween feature and decided to delve deep into the University of Maryland Folklore Archives. Hosler authored two articles which would be instrumental in elevating the Goatman’s status from local curiosity to nationwide phenomenon. In her first article, Hosler made references to the Goatman legend alongside another cryptid called the Boaman and accounts of various ghosts that were haunting the woods around Fletchertown Road. Two weeks later, Hosler wrote her second newspaper article with particular emphasis on the Goatman. In this article, the death of a decapitated missing puppy was indirectly linked to the Goatman. This was based on the testimony of a group of teenage girls (including the 16-year-old owner of the poor puppy) who had reportedly heard strange noises and seen a large creature lurking in the woods on the night the dog had disappeared. The article also reported that sightings of an “animal-like creature that walks on its hind legs” along Fletchertown Road were increasing.
Essentially, these two articles started the ball rolling and it was not long before other papers began publishing reports on the Goatman. This culminated in nationwide notoriety when the Washington Post reported it.
Considering that there have been countless accounts of the Goatman over the years, it would be impossible to list all the sightings here, but these are some of the most popular:
- In the early 1950s, there were various reports of people witnessing the Goatman throwing dogs off the Interstate 495 overpass!
- In August 1957, a strange gorilla-like creature was sighted in the woods off Upper Marlboro. Thereafter, the Prince George’s County Police logged more than 200 calls about the monster. However, despite deploying several search parties to comb the area, they still came up empty-handed.
- In the early 1960s, the Goatman was accused of killing about 14 hikers in Maryland.
- In 1968, a woman driving in Beltsville, near Patuxent Wildlife Research Centre, was reportedly stopped by a “huge, hair-covered creature with some goat-like features”. It was standing in the middle of the road which forced her to stop. Thankfully, the woman was left unharmed and the creature left after causing a dent on the hood of her car.
- In the late 1960s, a teenage couple was out on a romantic date in the woods when they heard a goat-like sound outside their car. The boy left the car to investigate with clear instructions to the girl not to leave the car until his return. After an hour, the girl was getting worried as there was no sign of him. Then, she heard a tapping sound on the roof of the car. Paralysed with fear, she was unable to get herself out of the car to check the source of the sound nor could she drive away. In the morning, with the sun out, the girl finally mustered enough courage to step out of the car only to discover her dead boyfriend dangling directly above the car. It was only then that she realised the tapping sound was probably from her boyfriend’s feet, trying to get her attention.
- As recently as August 2000, a group of construction workers sighted a Sasquatch-like creature traversing an area of the Washington suburbs.
- In 2015, interest in the Goatman legend was re-ignited following a YouTube video produced by the Strange Mysteries channel and there was an influx of new reported sightings.
Or view the video on the server at:
Regardless of whether the Goatman is real or a mere legend, there is sufficient circumstantial evidence and enough witnesses to keep the Goatman’s name and myth alive. If you are interested in braving the unknown to discover the truth behind the Goatman legend, or if you just want to avoid bumping into him, the following are the reported Goatman hotbeds:
- Pope Lick Monster in Louisville, Kentucky
- Lake Worth Monster in Texas
- Crybaby Bridge at Governer’s Bridge Road
- Lottsford Road
- Tuckers Road
- Goatman’s Bridge in Denton, Texas
- Los Angeles National Forest Goatman
- White Rock Lake Goatman in Dallas, Texas
- Goatman of Bowie, Maryland
- Hogs Back Road in Richfield, Wisconsin
- The Goatman of Nags Head Woods in Kill Devils Hill, North Carolina
- Sheepsquatch in West Virginia
- Mill Road in Kewaskum, Wisconsin
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