The Creepy Myth Of Goatman's Bridge

With a name like "Goatman's Bridge," you'd be forgiven for imagining some fairy tale suspension bridge patrolled by a toll-demanding half-man, half-goat creature. Maybe he's hungry and wants some hay in exchange for letting you cross his bridge. Maybe he wants to play a prank and let you pass and then give you a good ole' headbutt on the butt. But no matter what Goatman's Bridge conjures in the imagination, anything is likely better than reality. Even though we're veering into urban legend territory, the tale of Goatman's Bridge contains horrible and very unfunny real-life things no one wants to think about: the KKK and lynchings

Goatman's Bridge – the nickname for Old Alton Bridge in Denton, Texas — gets its moniker not from a mythological faun or similar woodland beastie, but from a simple goat herder. The legend that's cropped up around Old Alton Bridge, however, does sometimes feature a ghostly dude with a goat's head hanging out at the other end of the bridge. There are numerous variations on the tale, but as Atlas Obscura says, it centers on a local legend of a Black goat farmer. Come 1938, the KKK apparently decided to kill this man, wrapped a rope around his neck, tied the other end to Old Dalton Bridge, and pushed the man off. When the white-hooded group went back to get his body, he was gone. Since then, folks have apparently reported all sorts of apparitions and spooky occurrences on and around the bridge. 

Goats, ghosts, and glowing eyes

Legends of America tells a detailed version of the Goatman's Bridge story and says that the herder-turned-specter was named Oscar Washburn. By all accounts, he was an "honest" and "successful" businessman whom locals dubbed "Goatman." As the story goes, the KKK didn't take kindly to the Goatman and decided to haul him from his house one night to lynch him. After pushing him off the bridge and finding him not hanging there, his murderers went and killed the rest of his family. 

There are countless reports of all sorts of bizarre and uncanny things happening near Goatman's Bridge. As Legends of America says, we've got reports of the Goatman wandering the nearby woods and crossing the bridge. Sometimes he's a phantom by himself, sometimes he's herding phantom goats, sometimes he's got a phantom goat head under each arm, and sometimes he's a half-man, half-goat phantom creature. Folks have also described creepy and disturbing noises from the nearby woods, like growling, laughing, and horse hooves, as well as splashing sounds coming from the water below the bridge. Atlas Obscura also says that knocking on the bridge three times can summon the Goatman.

Heading to the bridge in a vehicle, meanwhile, seems to be equally dangerous. Cutting your lights at the bridge is said to summon the Goatman, as well as honking twice — or at least it allegedly summons his glowing eyes. A number of abandoned cars have been found nearby, and vehicles in general reportedly malfunction near the bridge. 

The legend lives on

Like many good ghost stories, the tale of Goatman's Bridge contains enough true elements to give credence to the tale's more otherworldly elements. Even if you remove all the paranormal components from the story, you're still left with a haunting tale. And it might go without saying, but ghost or not it's probably not a good idea to go cutting your lights in the dark near an old wooden bridge hovering above a ravine in the woods. In fact, Dallas Terrors says that authorities closed the bridge to vehicle traffic in 2001 and rerouted traffic to a new, nearby bridge. But by then the legend had stuck. 

Nowadays, curious specter-seekers can still head to Goatman's Bridge and head across it on foot. As Dallas Terrors says, many nearby residents recall the bridge fondly and associate it with childhood memories. In 1988 it was added to the U.S. National Parks Service's National Register of Historic Places and is an officially recognized national landmark. Meanwhile, the Denton, Texas website lists the bridge on their city's website of most haunted attractions. Other sites like Becks Ghost Hunters contain information regarding actual Goatman's Bridge ghost-hunting activities, as well as a long form guide written by the site's owner in 2018, "The Secrets of Goatman's Bridge."  BuzzFeed Unsolved Network also did a mini-documentary on the bridge, including an in-person nighttime tour. In short, such interest ensures that the legend of Goatman's Bridge is sure to live on for many years to come.