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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

Monsters in America: Map Out Your Cryptozoology Road Trip

Looking for strange creatures? The Monsters of America map from Hog Island Press will help you track down Bigfoot, Mothman, the Pope Lick monster and more.
Monsters in America cryptozoological map from Hog Island Press

Planning your next weird road trip? Why not track down the bizarre sightings and mysterious legends of America’s lake monsters, yeti, goatmen and other strange creatures. This high-quality, screenprinted reference to cryptozoology across the US from Hog Island Press functions as an accurate guide to cryptids, and it looks great on the wall, as well.

Monsters in America: A Cryptozoological Map of the United States is possibly the first of its kind – a snapshot of American cryptozoology that brings together the Jersey Devil, Bigfoot, Mothman, Chupacabra, Shunka Warakin, Caddy, the Honey Island Swamp Monster and many more cryptids on one hand-drawn, hand-screened map.

Loren Coleman, the Director of the International Cryptozoology Museum, had this to say: “The cryptid-filled, cartographically accurate Monsters in America: A Cryptozoological Map of the United States should be on the walls of every museum, library, and researcher’s office interested in the science of as-yet-to-be-discovered animals. Hog Island Press has produced an informative, affordable, high quality collectible, which also serves as an educational tool useful for your next road trip, a future research trek, or everyday bibliographic study. There is not a fake on the map. I love the heavy paper stock. Discover and obtain yours today!”

The 25 x 19″ ltd. edition print is screenprinted on 80 lb archival paper and shipped in a reinforced cardboard tube.

BUY IT HERE

Related

Goatman: Author J. Nathan Couch Explores the Bizarre Legend in His New Book

Wisconsin author J. Nathan Couch explores goatman legends, sightings and campfire stories from across the US in his new book Goatman: Flesh or Folklore?
Goatman book cover art by Wisconsin artist Amber Michelle Russell
Rendering of goatman by Wisconsin artist Amber Michelle Russell

Here in the small Wisconsin town of West Bend, where Cult contributor and paranormal investigator J. Nathan Couch and I both call home, there are a several creepy back roads where legends abound of gruesome murders at the hands of the vile Goatman. If you spend enough time here, you will inevitably stumble upon the stories that have likely sent curious teenagers into the woods for decades in search of the bizarre creature.

Couch first documented accounts of goatman sightings while gathering local stories for his first book, Washington County Paranormal. But as it turns out, Goatman has been terrorizing people all over the backwoods of America for a long time.

On the Trail of Goatman

Nate spent the last couple years collecting stories and hunting down legends of the mysterious creature known as Goatman. Amongst the more famous legends, such as the Pope Lick Monster in Kentucky, the Beast of Billiwhack, Sheepsquatch and the Lake Worth Monster, he also explores a “hoard of minor hooved horrors” from across the US as he tries to separate fact from fiction.

Dig into the history of this strange cryptid, as well as the stories of those who have died trying to encounter it, in the new book Goatman: Flesh or Folklore?

For the latest on Goatman and more, head over to www.jnathancouch.com

Explore the legends and sightings of Goatman in the new book by J. Nathan CouchGoatman: Flesh or Folklore? by J. Nathan Couch

Legend says that all across America, a monster lives in the darkness. It lurks on the boundaries of suburbia mere miles from our homes. Huge, foul-smelling, and murderous, it has many regional names but most people refer to the creature by a simple, straightforward name – Goatman. Join author J. Nathan Couch as he explores the Goatman legends and sightings in search of the bizarre creature’s origins.

BUY IT

Goatman: Flesh or Folklore? is part of the Cult of Weird fall reading list.

Update: Goatman named best weird cryptid book of 2014

Pope Lick Monster

Pope Lick Monster: Searching for Louisville’s Deadly Legend

Paranormal author and investigator J. Nathan Couch goes in search of the Pope Lick Monster in Louisville, Kentucky, which is responsible for at least 3 deaths.

Wisconsin paranormal researcher J. Nathan Couch recently took a “legend trip” to Kentucky. Legend tripping is the act of visiting an allegedly haunted location to try and experience the legend for yourself. This is the second in a series of articles by Couch following the Waverly Hills Sanatorium tour.

Legend of the Pope Lick Monster

The Pope Lick Monster is said to be a strange, savage amalgamation. He’s often described as a large humanoid creature with furry, goat-like legs, alabaster skin, wide-set eyes, and horns that protrude from greasy fur. The monster is sometimes referred to as Goatman or even Sheepman. According to story, the beast was originally captured in the wilds of Canada around the end of the 19th century. The Goatman became the star of a circus’s freak show until an electrical storm caused a train derailment. This devil-like creature was supposedly the only survivor. Instead of returning to the vast northern wilderness, the Goatman made his way to the Pope Lick Trestle, and is said to reside there even now.

Recent: Pope Lick Monster legend claims another life in Kentucky

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.

Climbing onto the trestle for a glimpse of the Pope Lick Monster has long been a recreational activity for reckless Louisville-area youths. While even entertaining the idea of such an absurd creature might make even the most ardent paranormal enthusiast feel foolish, the Pope Lick Monster has killed at least three people. That’s a fact.

View from the ground of the Pope Lick tressel looming overheadThe December 30th, 1988 Louisville Courier-Journal ran a front page article entitled Trestle of Death, in which it records two tragedies. Jack “J.C.” Charles Bahm II, a 17-year old Spalding University student, was struck and killed by a train February 18, 1987 while crossing the trestle. He has since been eulogized at the site of his death. “JC we love and miss you” is spray painted on the trestle’s base. In May 1987, 19-year-old David Wayne Bryant died of injuries obtained in 1986 when he jumped from the trestle to dodge an oncoming locomotive.

Versions of the Pope Lick Monster legend have been in circulation since the 1960s, and the area around the trestle was a popular party location for area youth, but it took the Louisville premiere of the 1988 short film “The Legend of the Pope Lick Monster” to persuade the railroad it needed something more daunting than trampled chicken wire to keep the public off the trestle. The night of said premiere, two boys were arrested when they attempted to climb out onto the trestle. Immediately thereafter, a six-foot high security fence was installed.

The fence, along with a heightened police presence still hasn’t kept people away from the tracks. In 2000, a 19 year-old Mount Washington man named Nicholas Jewell was shaken from the trestle by a train’s vibrations as he tried to hang from the trestle to avoid being hit by a train.

Exploring the Pope Lick Trestle

On July 27, 2013 I went in search of this trestle to see if I could understand why anyone would risk their lives in search of a monster. As I turned onto Taylorsville Road, I caught a glimpse of the ancient looking track as it ran parallel to the road, nearly hidden by the trees. I felt as if I’d caught a glimpse of an immense, sleeping serpent. I turned onto Pope Lick Road and the trestle immediately towered some 100 feet overhead. The narrow, curved road had a surprisingly high amount of traffic when I was there, and with no visible shoulder on the road, my only recourse was to park at a nearby gas station. As soon as I pulled into the parking lot, I noticed a Louisville Sheriff’s Department patrol car sitting unmanned. I refused to be daunted by this; I’d come all the way from Wisconsin for this trip. There would be no turning back. Besides, I had no intention of going anywhere near the tracks, nor did I plan to climb any fences.

Creek at the base of the Pope Lick tresselDespite my lawful intentions, I felt like a criminal as I navigated an astonishingly high amount of traffic to take pictures from a nearby bicycle trail. Next I walked down the shoulder of the road to stand beneath the tracks. I felt a strong need to gaze up. As I did, the light through the railroad ties was dazzling, and I felt dizzy on the uneven shoulder. My imagination conjured up the approach of a train. The trestle is 772 feet from end-to-end. If you’re stranded up there with a train coming, it’s impossible to out run the locomotive and the engineer has no hope of stopping in time. The body of one of the men that was hit was recovered a couple of miles from the trestle. I turned and examined the creek, which on this day barely qualified as a trickle. One’s only choice is to leap off the trestle, a jump that it’s vastly improbable to survive.

I envisioned the Goatman—a poorly disguised image of the devil himself—and I was reminded how certain members of the Jeffersontown and Louisville community believe the Pope Lick Monster—or some other supernatural force—DID persuade those kids out onto the track. As I walked back to my car, I took a final look at the antiquated, foreboding structure and I couldn’t put myself in those kids’ shoes at all. Having been a nervous and meek youth growing up, I couldn’t imagine needing a thrill so bad that I’d wander onto the trestle.

While I wouldn’t go as far as say supernatural provocation caused the death of those kids, the Pope Lick Monster DID lure them out onto the trestle, if only with his legend.

The Pope Lick train trestle in Lousiville, Kentucky, home of the Pope Lick monster
CAUTION: Trespassing ruins legend tripping for everyone. Also, never ever play or loiter on railroad tracks. Funerals aren’t fun for anyone.

Read more about the Pope Lick Monster in Goatman: Flesh or Folklore?