If you live in the Fisherville neighborhood of Louisville, Kentucky, you’ve undoubtedly heard of the legend of the Goat-Man of Pope Lick (sometimes referred to as the Pope Lick Monster). As you may have guessed by its name, this monster is typically described as having the head of a goat and the body of a man, walking upright on two feet like a human would. This creature is said to live beneath a railway trestle bridge over Pope Lick Creek in the Fisherville neighborhood of Louisville. However, apart from its appearance and its location, stories about the Pope Lick Monster vary wildly.
The Goat-Man of Pope Lick has been said to attack its victims in a variety of different ways, including forcing them to jump in front of trains, hacking them to death with a bloody ax, and tearing into their flesh with his claws. The Bluegrass State is rich with local folklore and the story of the Goat-Man of Pope Lick has likely been told in hushed tones around campfires for centuries; however, no one’s really sure how this legend started… or why. Over the years, though, the Pope Lick Monster has become a local legend, and walking beneath the Pope Lick trestle bridge is somewhat of a rite of passage for youngsters from the Fisherville neighborhood.
Unfortunately, due to a number of murders and accidents that have occurred beneath this specific bridge, an 8-foot metal fence has been erected around the Pope Lick trestle bridge to keep thrill-seekers out. Still, that doesn’t stop some of the local youths from climbing over the fence and searching for the legendary Goat-Man.
In this article, we’ll look at the different iterations of the legend of the Pope Lick Monster, its origins, and its place in the modern world. But, if you live in the Louisville area, please don’t go hopping the fence and walking around under a bridge at night. That’s just not safe.
The Trestle Bridge
The Norfolk Southern Railway is currently comprised of over 28,400 miles of railroad in the eastern portion of the United States. Part of this railway system runs right through eastern Jefferson County in Kentucky. At a certain point, the railway crosses through the Parklands of Floyds Fork (a nearly 4,000-acre public park) and over Pope Lick Creek, which is located on the eastern side of Louisville. At this point, the railway is supported by a large trestle bridge that carries trains as high as 90 feet above the creek below. This bridge is an entire 772 feet long, making it quite a feat of engineering.
Unfortunately, this bridge has become slightly rusted, which has given this area of the park an ominous quality. On top of that, several people have died while trying to climb this trestle bridge and the morbid history of this location has only added to its folklore. So, the legend of the Goat-Man of Pope Lick was probably born after the bridge was built and several tragic events occurred there. The bridge itself dates back to the late 1800s, so we might assume that the legend was created somewhere around the same time period.
As the story goes, the Goat-Man (who’s described as actually being more of a “sheep-man” in some versions of the story) lives on the top of the trestle bridge. From there, he either mimics the voice of a human, possibly crying out for help, or uses hypnosis to lure his victims toward the bridge.
The Goat-Man Attacks
According to legend, the Goat-Man has several ways that he kills his victims, and some of these ways don’t involve attacking them at all. Some say that the Pope Lick Monster lures his victims to the top of the bridge using hypnosis alone. Or, perhaps, he’ll cry out and adjust his voice to sound like someone in distress at the top of the bridge. Either way, he convinces his victims to climb the 90-foot trestle bridge to the top (which sounds absolutely terrifying on its own).
What happens at the top of the bridge varies from story to story. Some say that the Goat-Man times it perfectly so that his victim gets hit by a passing train once they reach the top of the bridge. Others say that he jumps out at them, causing them to fall off the bridge to their death. And some say that the face of the Goat-Man is so disturbing that the victims cannot bear to live after seeing it and they willingly throw themselves off the bridge.
There is also a road that runs underneath the Pope Lick trestle bridge and some versions of the legend say that the Goat-Man will jump off the bridge and land on the tops of cars, either scaring the wits out of the passengers or actually killing them. Some have also claimed that the Monster wields a blood-stained axe that he uses to take the lives of his victims.
The Origin of the Goat-Man of Pope Lick
Probably the most famous origin story of the Goat-Man is that he was found by a notoriously cruel owner of a traveling circus as a boy. The man found the child as an infant that had been left outside of one of the circus tents. The owner of the circus immediately knew that he had struck gold when he noticed that the infant had horn-like bumps on his forehead, misshapen legs, and feet that looked like hooves.
As the story goes, the infant grew into an adult and grew large horns and fur all over its body. The Goat-Man was treated very cruelly by the owner of the circus and all the other carnies, being verbally abused and even whipped every day.
Finally, one night, the circus was traveling by train through Fisherville on their way to Louisville when a massive lightning strike derailed their train. The wreck killed every passenger on board except for one: the Goat-Man. In the years that have followed, there have been a strange number of accidents and murders in this area. People have found dead cats, dogs, and other animals in this area with astonishing frequency. All of this has led people to believe that the Goat-Man never left this area after the accident, and that he’s out for revenge.
In the area around Pope Lick, there was a farm during the 1970s and 1980s called the “Four Winds”. Many locals believe that this farm was home to a cult that either worshiped the Pope Lick Monster (believing that it was an incarnation of Satan himself) or that actually created the Pope Lick Monster through one of their blood rituals.
People in the area recall that the farm was surrounded by a red-and-black fence that bore a sign reading “Trespassers will be persecuted.” Others claim that they heard strange tribal chanting and drum-beating coming from the barn on the property on multiple occasions. Could this alleged cult be associated with the Pope Lick Monster? It surely doesn’t seem like a coincidence that the two existed in the same place at the same time…
Finally, one other theory about the creation of the Goat-Man exists. It’s said that there was an ancient graveyard hidden somewhere in the woods around Pope Lick that was brimming with dark magic. It’s said that any corpse that was buried in this graveyard would return to life as a horrible half-beast abomination.
As a final note, once again, do not try to climb the Pope Lick trestle bridge in search of the Goat-Man of Pope Lick or for any other reason. This is an active train line and people have actually died here by climbing the bridge or getting hit by a train. It’s also not safe to walk around urban parks at night.