Posts

Recap of the 2016 Milwaukee Paranormal Conference

A quick recap of the 2016 Milwaukee Paranormal Conference with appearances by Loren Coleman, Butch Patrick, Katrina Weidman, Linda S. Godfrey and more.
Milwaukee Paranormal Conference 2016

The Milwaukee Paranormal Conference was originally dreamed up last year by author Tea Krulos as a release party for his book Monster Hunters. Rather than take the spotlight, however, he decided to organize a celebration of the bizarre with authors, artists, vendors, filmmakers, ghost tours, and numerous experts in the fields of cryptozoology, folklore, paranormal investigation, and haunted places. Due to the success of last year’s event, Tea promised bigger and better in 2016…and he did not disappoint.

Related: The Milwaukee Paranormal Conference needs your help!

The conference was held this weekend at the University of Milwaukee Student Union with a packed vendor floor and two halls hosting panels and speakers throughout both Saturday and Sunday. The Cult of Weird table was perfectly positioned between Grave Digger Candles and J. Nathan Couch, author of Goatman: Flesh or Folklore?

Butch Patrick, the actor who played Eddie Munster, was a last minute addition since he just happened to be in the area. I couldn’t resist picking up an autographed Johnny Lightning Dragula for my fledgling diecast hearse collection.

eddie-munster-dragula
The Munsters diecast Dragula autographed by Butch Patrick

Butch Patrick who played Eddie Munster
Me with Butch Patrick (Eddie Munster)

The first speaker I caught was Linda S. Godfrey, author of Monsters Among Us, American Monsters, and many more. She covered 25 years of investigation into eyewitness accounts of dogmen in the Midwest, a phenomena she first encountered in the late 1980s when she reported on the Beast of Bray Road sightings near Delavan, Wisconsin for a local newspaper.

Linda Godfrey speaking about sightings of dogmen in the Midwest
Linda Godfrey speaking about dogman sightings in the Midwest.

Later there was a Q&A session with Katrina Weidman from the Destination America series Paranormal Lockdown, where she talked about some of the most convincing evidence she has collected, as well as the upcoming Halloween special in which she and Nick Groff (formerly of Ghost Adventures) investigate the Black Monk House. That was followed by The Roswell Debate with Donald R. Schmitt and Mark O’Connell. Both were involved in last year’s conference, but I didn’t have a chance to catch them this time around.

Loren Coleman
Me with Loren Coleman

The day culminated in a thoroughly fascinating presentation by International Museum of Cryptozoology founder Loren Coleman on the Minnesota Iceman, reports of Bigfoot abducting dogs and children, and the current clown hysteria as it relates to a long history of phantom clown sightings. It was Coleman’s first appearance in Milwaukee, providing the opportunity to have Terry Cullen get onstage and recount his early encounter with the Iceman.

Cullen was a zoology student in Milwaukee when he found the stinking, rotting corpse of a hairy hominid at Chicago’s International Livestock Exhibition and Fair in 1968. Of course, many great hoaxes have been perpetuated in dimly lit tents. Cullen said he always paid to get into those exhibits so he could learn what fakes look like. But the Iceman was different. He had the opportunity to examine the body better than anyone since, and remains convinced it was authentic.

For more on the Iceman read Neanderthal: The Strange Saga of the Minnesota Iceman by Bernard Heuvelmans. Coleman provided an afterword to this newly translate edition of one of the best books on the topic.

On a side note, when you have the opportunity to buy a plaster cast of a Bigfoot print from the Patterson-Gimlin filmsite signed by Loren Coleman…you do it.

Bigfoot cast signed by Loren Coleman
Bigfoot cast from the Patterson-Gimlin filmsite signed by Loren Coleman

Wisconsin’s Wildest Urban Legends panel happened Sunday with Tea at the helm. J. Nathan Couch discussed the connection between goatman and Lover’s Lane legends. Valerie Kedrowski of the Steven’s Point Paranormal Club shed some light on roads with a ghostly reputation such as Paradise Road and Boy Scout Lane. Christina and I talked about the bizarre history of St. Nazianz and JFK Prep, as well as the circumstances surrounding the allegedly haunted cauldron believed to have been owned by Ed Gein. Tea went over some of the locations where the ghost of Al Capone are said to roam.

Minnesota Krampus

One of the defining moments of the afternoon was the Krampus parade, in which members of the Minnesota Krampus group stalked through the vendor hall in their traditional goat hide costumes with menacing hand-carved masks, flogging any unfortunate soul who happened to get in their way.

At the end of the day we had the pleasure of hearing the top three winners of the summer writing contest read their submissions. It was great meeting everyone and catching up with all the amazing folks we met last year.

UPDATE: Listen to the top 5 submission right here.

Vintage Haskelite mystic tray
Vintage 1940s Hasko Mystic Tray for sale from Steve and Kim of Kadywumpus

Artist Cait May
Artist Cait May. She had an amazing lake monster print I should have bought. See more of her work at www.caitmayart.com

Christina with one of the Minnesota Krampus
Christina with a Krampus

Zombeans by Donovan Scherer
Zombeans by author/illustrator Donovan Scherer

What would D.B. Cooper do? bumper sticker

Watch for more photos from the conference at www.milwaukeeparacon.com

Wisconsin’s Wildest Urban Legends Panel at the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference

Learn about some of the strangest legends from the weird backwoods of Wisconsin this Sunday, October 16th at the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference.
Wisconsin urban legends panel at the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference

The Milwaukee Paranormal Conference has a lot of weird to offer this weekend, including a Q&A with Paranormal Lockdown star Katrina Weidman, a talk by Loren Coleman (International Cryptozoology Museum) on the Minnesota Iceman, a debate on the Roswell UFO crash with Donald R. Schmitt and Mark O’Connell, and much more.

So it’s only fitting that, for the first time ever, Cult of Weird will be presenting a panel on the many strange urban legends from the backwoods of weird Wisconsin! The panel will be moderated by conference director Tea Krulos with Cult contributor and resident goatman expert J. Nathan Couch, Valerie Kedrowski of the Stevens Point Paranormal Club, my partner in crime Christina Rickman, and myself.

Here’s what we’ll be talking about:

  • Lover’s Lanes and Creepy Roads
    Hogsback Road and goatman, Boy Scout Lane, Paradise Road
  • I Dare You to Go There
    Haunchyville, St Nazianz, Mary Nohl House, Maribel Caves Hotel Hell
  • Phantoms
    The ghost of Al Capone, Bloody Bride Bridge, Phantom Hitchhiker of Hwy 12
  • Reality vs Urban Legend
    Ed Gein’s cauldron, Slenderman, werewolves, Milwaukee Lion
  • Audience Q&A

Come to the conference (there are great things happening all weekend) and hear about some odd, horrific and/or quirky Wisconsin legends. Also, you can find us in the vendor hall all weekend next to the Grave Digger’s creepy Halloween candles.

The Milwaukee Paranormal Conference is happening this Saturday and Sunday, October 15-16. Catch the panel on Sunday at 1pm in the UWM Ballroom West.

Wisconsin's Wildest Urban Legends panel at Milwaukee Paranormal Conference

More info at milwaukeeparacon.com

Photo: Legendary Maryland Goatman Spotted in Washington DC?

A recent photo seems to show what may be evidence of Maryland’s legendary goatman.
Photo of the Maryland goatman
Is this Maryland’s elusive goatman? Photo courtesy of Ryan Davis.

On April 25th, Cult of Weird received an email with a very intriguing photograph, which claims to be photographic evidence of the infamous Maryland Goatman, a legendary creature said to haunt several locations in Bowie, Maryland, just outside of Washington DC, including the community of Laurel, where this image was allegedly taken.

Related:

I wrote a detailed history of the legend in Goatman: Flesh or Folklore?, but for those new to the legend, here are the bare-bones essentials. The creature is often described in campfire tales as strange mutation which somehow escaped from the nearby Beltsville Agricultural Research Center. He’s usually described as resembling a Greek Satyr—a bipedal humanoid with two furry goat-like legs, a human male’s upper body and the horns, and sometimes the muzzle, of a goat.

A man named Ryan Davis reportedly took the photo, and had this to say:

I’m in DC for the GRC summit starting today and was playing tennis Saturday morning at Montpelier Park while some friends played golf at Pawtucket Greens. As we were packing up we saw something on the forest bordering the park. As I took out my camera phone it came up onto two feet and I realized it was a goat. I told some people back in DC about a goat waking on two legs and they said it was some old Maryland Goatman legend. I called WBAL in Baltimore and talked to someone about it but I don’t think they believe me. They think it’s a bear holding a freshly killed goat. They ran the story this morning. As a reader, thought you might enjoy.

The urban legend itself is absolutely absurd. The creature haunts Maryland make out spots, and leaps out at passionate young couples brandishing an ax. The creature was also blamed for locally high-profile pet mutilations in the 1970s.

Many reputable sightings of strange creatures do occur in Bowie, Baltimore, and several other densely populated areas in and around the Washington area, though almost all of the sightings describe large, upright, hairy hominids which sound much more like the equally legendary Bigfoot. Literally hundreds of these sightings have been collected in Mark Opsasnick’s essential book, The Maryland Bigfoot Digest. Hardly any of the people who’ve allegedly seen what they call the Goatman, actually describe a creature like the one in the photo.

I do not agree with WBAL’s assertion that the photograph depicts a bear carrying a dead goat. That’s asinine. The Goat’s head clearly belongs to the body of the hairy creature pictured. I do not, however, believe this to be a legitimate photograph of Goatman.

I would never accuse the photographer of being untruthful, but I do believe he, himself to be the victim of a hoax. The whole thing is just too good to be true.

It’s a great photograph. It isn’t blurry (meaning the creature wasn’t trying to avoid human beings just several feet away), and the only part of the creature’s body that’s hidden is the legs. The trickiest bit of any decent satyr costume are those utterly bizarre backwards bending goat legs—take it from someone who knows—Halloween costume parties are cutthroat affairs in my family. Perhaps the most suspicious part of the anatomy is the location of the head—low on the shoulders, creating an almost humpbacked appearance. A human’s head and shoulders could easily be concealed in the interior of a costume while a taxidermy-ed goat’s head is displayed to the prankster’s victims.

The Internet lost its collective mind Thanksgiving weekend, 2015, debating the existence of the creature after a MoviePilot.com article brought the creature’s alleged existence to the world’s attention once more. Five long, cold months is plenty of time for a hoaxer to build a clever costume, to have fun with come Springtime.

If further photographs and sightings occur in the coming days I could change my tune. I hope this is real. I WANT this to be real. But to my eyes, it’s just too good to be true.

Maryland goatman photo

J. Nathan Couch is an authority on the subject of goatman legends and the author of Goatman: Flesh or Folklore? For more, go to his website www.jnathancouch.com

Pope Lick Monster Legend Claims Another Victim

Kentucky’s deadly train track-dwelling goatman legend known as the Pope Lick Monster has claimed another life.
Pope Lick Trestle where the goatman is said to live
The Pope Lick “trestle of death” in Louisville. Photo credit: @amills4294

Over the weekend, Louisville’s Courier-Journal reported on the latest death on the deadly Pope Lick trestle, where several people have lost their lives over the years while searching for the legendary half-man, half-goat monster said to live there.

26-year-old Roquel Bain and her boyfriend where visiting Kentucky for a haunted tour of Waverly Hills Sanatorium and decided to check out the nearby legend of the Pope Lick Monster. The mythical goatman creature is said to live on a train trestle that towers 80 feet above Pope Lick Creek, luring curious teens to their death.

Cult contributor J. Nathan Couch, who investigated the Pope Lick Monster while researching his book Goatman: Flesh or Folklore? notes this legend holds the distinction of being the only goatman directly responsible for, at the time, at least three deaths. He writes:

The monster is said to possess a wide array of supernatural skills to lure people out onto the trestle including mimicry, telepathy, and/or hypnosis. Once a victim is lured onto the trestle, the Pope Lick Monster uses its abhorrent physical appearance to frighten its intended victims, causing them to leap or fall to their demise. Some versions of the legend insist the monster waits for a train to approach—then from beneath the trestle—holds its charmed victim down until the train runs them over.

Image from the short film Legend of the Pope Lick Monster
From the short film The Legend of the Pope Lick Monster, 1988.

Bain is the latest victim of Pope Lick. She and her boyfriend were walking on the railway, which they believed to be abandoned, when they realized a train was quickly bearing down on them. Bain’s boyfriend dangled off the edge, then climbed down unscathed when the train had passed. That’s when he realized his girlfriend didn’t make it. She was struck by the train and thrown off the track, where she was later pronounced dead.

More: Pope Lick Monster: Searching for Louisville’s Deadly Legend

Flesh or Folklore: Interview with Goatman Author J. Nathan Couch

Goatman researcher J. Nathan Couch talks about the strange legends and chilling encounters with the strangest creature roaming the backwoods of America.
Goatman author J. Nathan Couch
Goatman: Flesh or Folklore? author J. Nathan Couch. Photo by John Ehlke.

A few years ago when Cult of Weird contributor J. Nathan Couch announced the subject of his second book was going to be the bizarre and elusive Goatman, I had no idea how many states across the US had a campfire legend about the menacing creature. It was not a story limited solely to the weird back roads of Wisconsin.

According to a frenzy of recent sightings in three states, it seems there could even be a goatman lurking in the woods near you. But what, exactly, is this reclusive cryptid with an insatiable murderous appetite for young lovers and wayward travelers?

Well, it’s stranger than any of the other beasts roaming the forests of North America, and according to Couch, this legend has actually killed some people.

Cult of Weird: What prompted you to begin researching goatman legends?

J. Nathan Couch: I was initially attracted to it because of just how strange it is. Even compared to subjects like Bigfoot sightings, ghostly manifestations, and alien abductions, it’s exceedingly bizarre. The idea of something resembling a mythological Greek satyr running around the outskirts of Midwestern American civilization is mind boggling. What really prompted me to research the subject in great detail was when I interviewed a gentleman from West Bend, Wisconsin, named Jason Miller. Several years back, Miller was bow hunting for Deer in early autumn, when he saw, heard, even smelled a creature he described as Goatman near the little town of Kewaskum, Wisconsin.

The idea that even one human being had encountered such an entity made me immediately want to know everything there was to know on the subject. I quickly realized that similar legends and sightings were occurring all over the country, and had been since the 1800s. Since Goatman: Flesh or Folklore? has been published, even more legends and sightings have been brought to my attention.

Where are some of the significant legends around the US?

The three locations around the United States with the most famous Goatman legends or sightings is Bowie, Maryland just outside of Washington, D.C., Louisville, Kentucky, and Fort Worth, Texas. All are unique and infamous for various reasons.

Bowie’s legend is the first one that drew national attention. Various stories about the creature skulking around houses and murdering household pets made newspapers all over America. It is also the version of the creature which is most often featured in pop culture. The Goatman of Bowie has been in films, comic books, and television shows.

Louisville’s monster is unique in that it supposedly uses supernatural powers to lure people to their deaths. It supposedly coaxes people out onto a deadly railroad trestle, causing them to be killed by trains. While the creature’s existence hasn’t been proven, several people have met their doom by venturing onto the enormous, deadly structure.

Trestle where the Pope Lick monster lives
The Pope Lick train trestle in Lousiville, Kentucky, home of the Pope Lick monster.

Fort Worth’s Goatman is unique in that literally dozens of people–at the same time–witnessed this creature as it tossed a car wheel some 500 feet down a ridge near Lake Worth. The screams of the creature even sent Fort Worth police cowering to their squad cars.

Of course, legends exist in many other states including Wisconsin, California, Michigan and several others. Many sightings even occur where there is no established history of a Goatman legend.

Cult of Weird headquarters is uniquely positioned between two prominent Wisconsin goatman legends. Tell me about those.

The first Wisconsin legend involves Hogsback Road, a treacherous road located near Holy Hill Basilica in Hubertus, Wisconsin. They say the creature debuted there in the 1870s by murdering a Civil War veteran who’d ventured off into the night looking for help when his wagon wheel splintered. The story is very folkloric, and probably not true, but sightings of the creature have been reported by very credible witnesses in recent years. Allegedly, the creature runs out in front of your car trying to run motorists off the road for an easy kill. Interestingly enough, most witnesses in this area do see the creature as it dashes into the path of their vehicle.

The second legend exists in Kewaskum, Wisconsin. 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 road in Kewaskum, Wisconsin
S Mill Rd, also known as Goatman Road, in Kewaskum, Wisconsin.

When you conduct the Downtown West Bend [Wisconsin] Ghost Walks, people will often share their own experiences with you afterward. Has Goatman ever come up?

Once last year an older couple approached me after the rest of the tour patrons had left, and told me of a sighting that occurred at their home in Southern Kewaskum. The man was up early in the morning, rummaging around in his kitchen. He heard gunshots outside. He lived in a heavily wooded area and assumed it was his neighbors shooting at coyotes. He looked out his window expecting to see a pack of the animals running along the snow mobile trail in his backyard, but saw something completely unexpected. He saw a creature running extremely fast, and extremely well in very deep snow. It was bipedal, covered in shaggy grey-brown fur, and strangest of all, it’s head was shaped like a horse! It jumped a very high snowdrift and fled into the woods.

In your research, have you found any evidence that seems to support the stories?

I haven’t done a lot of field research. I’m more of a reclusive introvert sort of writer. But I do plan to change that soon. As soon as hunting season ends I’d like to get out in the Kettle Moraine Forest here in Wisconsin, and try and find physical evidence. A local investigation group by the name of WPI Hunts the Truth was recently sent a photograph of an enormous hoof print the size of a grown man’s hand, from Oak Creek near Milwaukee. Perhaps it’s the distorted print of a large deer, but it could be something else. The jury is still out.

Goatman hoof print found in Wisconsin
Goatman hoof print? Photo courtesy of WPI Hunts the Truth.

What do you believe is the likely origin of Goatman lore?

The legends of Goatman probably 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.

Goatman book by J. Nathan Couch

Goatman: Flesh or Folklore? is available on Amazon.

Follow J. Nathan Couch on his website at www.jnathancouch.com