There’s a dark and sinister creature living beneath the Pope Lick Trestle near Floyd’s Creek in Louisville, Kentucky. First sighted in the 1970’s, this unknown cryptid, simply known as “The Pope Lick Monster”, has been described as a human & goat hybrid that’s earned it the nickname – “Goat Man”. Thought to be responsible for several deaths in the area, this terrifying creature prays on adventurous souls exploring it’s territory.
What exactly did this murderous creature look like? According to the majority of eyewitnesses, the Goat Man nickname is quite appropriate because the monster resembles the blending of goat and man, twisted together in agonizing horror. The creature’s extremely deformed man-like body is covered in long, greasy fur. Wide set eyes and an aquiline nose frame its alabaster face and its head is crowned with sharp horns. This freak show is propelled by two powerful goat-like legs with hooves.
All right, it’s hideous but you may be wondering – what makes this particular cryptid so “dark and sinister”? Good question and the answer lies in how it kills its prey.
While there are multiple stories of the Pope Lick Monster, the two most prevalent versions indicate the cryptid is fond of dispatching its unsuspecting victims with human-like cunning and surprise. Locals believe the creature prefers to lure people to their death using voice mimicry and hypnosis to draw them out onto the trestle as a train is approaching. Even creepier, it’s been reported the cryptid hangs from the trestle until a car passes beneath it, jumping down and attacking the vehicles occupants (add that to your top ten reasons NOT to own a convertible).In the event either of these two more common attacks are unsuccessful, the Goat Man is also said to be quite fond of using a bloodstained ax get the job done.
Fortunately, not everyone has fallen for these tricks and, according to these survivors, the creature mimics the sound of a child in need. Certainly the sound of child in distress on the trestle would be difficult for anyone to ignore and it’s hard to imagine someone not climbing up to attempt rescue. Perhaps this explains why so many have met their fate inexplicably climbing up into the path of a train.
According to local news channel WDRB, the story of the Pope Lick Monster probably goes back even further than the 1970s. While researching the story, WDRB interviewed filmmaker Ron Schildknecht about his experience tempting fate forty years ago, when he was 16 years old. Schildknecht recounted a story of the time he climbed the 100 foot rail road trestle and ran along the tracks – tempting fate. Although he made it to the other side in one piece, the news channel did verify that the trestle has been the site of a long list of deaths and injuries during the past few decades and proposed a theory that perhaps the deaths attributed to the Pope Lick Monster were merely thrill seekers looking for a good time.
For example, the trestle serves as a memorial for a 17-year-old named Jack “J.C.” Charles Bahm II, who was killed after being struck by a train in 1987. There is a still clearly visible message from one of his family members or friends spray painted on the base of the trestle that says “JC we love and miss you.”
Another young man, David Wayne Bryant, died in 1986 after jumping from the trestle. Authorities concluded Bryant was attempting to get out of the way of a train when he fell to his death but they made no official statement explaining why he was on the trestle in the first place.
While WDRB and others have suggested these two deaths and many others were the results poor judgement, there are many people who believe the circumstances are unnatural and suspect the Pope Lick Monster may be involved. Schildknecht was inspired to make a short film in 1988 entitled “The Legend of the Pope Lick Monster” which was a hit locally. Still popular two decades later, the film was completely remastered in 2008 and re-released to celebrate the 20th anniversary. It originally premiered at the Uptown Theater in Louisville on December 29, 1988 and many of the exterior distance scenes were shot at the actual Pope Lick Trestle.
Although the movie was released under the heading of fiction, the release proved to be very problematic for the Norfork Southern Railroad. Norfork officials were worried even one screening of the film might draw curious explorers to the dangerous trestle. Also a bit unusual for a company, Norfolk went so far as to read a statement at the premier discouraging people from trying to imitate the scenes in the film. Normally folks just put up no trespassing signs to limit their liability so it makes you wonder if perhaps Norfork Southern knows something else about that trestle they’re not sharing.
Sightings of an unknown creature? Check!
Multiple unexplained deaths? Check!
Unusual corporate interest in the story (or B rated movie in this case)? Check!
All that’s missing is an origin story for the Pope Lick Monster but no worries – we’ve got that covered! As is the case with most other cryptid legends, there’s no way to know for certain where the Pope Lick Monster came from or why it settled in the Louisville area but local residents have embraced two prevailing theories.
The most popular explanation for this creature’s appearance involves a farmer who struck a deal with the devil and, as is always the case, came out on the bad end of that deal. As the story goes, the farmer sought the presence of the dark lord by torturing a large herd of goats to prove his loyalty. To reward the farmer, the devil humorously transformed him into a goat-like monster. His soul now forfeit, the farmer is cursed to spend eternity living underneath the trestle claiming new souls for the devil.
The second story, which actually seems the more plausible of the two, theorizes the Pope Lick Monster was once part of a circus freak show. Circus trains commonly crossed the trestle so folks suspect one of them derailed and set the monster free. While almost non-existent today, many people don’t realize freak shows were once very popular and many of their attractions were actually real. Case in point, the “American Horror Story: Freak Show” employs several actors with real and unusual physical deformities to play the characters in a fictional representation of one of the last freak shows in America.
Imagine a scenario where a part-man, part-goat hybrid was virtually enslaved by a corrupt circus owner. After years of abuse, the creature escapes at the first possible opportunity. Unfortunately, such a beast cruelly mistreated by mankind would almost certainly harbor resentment, enacting revenge on anyone accidentally crossing its path. Having spent captivity around magicians, ventriloquists and other charlatans, the creature would have certainly learned a few tricks of deception.
Real or not, on a regular basis media and local residents are sharing new stories of the Pope Lick Monster which has become, for lack of a better term, an enduring part of Louisville culture. If you’ve visited the Pope Lick Trestle or reside in the Louisville area and had an unusual encounter with something you suspect may have been the creature please share your experience by leaving a comment below.