The Pope Lick Monster Is No Mere Urban Legend - He Has An Actual Body Count
So, before you start laughing at the Pope Lick Monster urban legend for its name, keep in mind that people have actually died searching for this monster. As far as creepy cryptids with a body count go, the Pope Lick Monster has been luring people to their doom for decades, and enthusiasts are still flocking to his bridge that runs over the Pope Lick Creek. Whether or not you believe in scary urban legends like this, the train that passes over his supposed abode is very real, and can be very deadly.
There are several monster legends from Kentucky, but this particular one is downright confusing. Some tales say he started as a circus freak, or was the product of a sexual relationship between a farmer and one of his sheep. Some say he kills with an axe, others say he lures you into the darkness, never to be seen again.
One thing all the legends do say, however, is that this monster wants to trick you into coming close, and then he will kill you. And if you do venture onto his bridge, rest assured that, even if he doesn't get you, a speedy train may still be your undoing.
He's Part Human, Part Sheep, Part Goat, All Weird
So what exactly is a Pope Lick monster anyway? He is described as being a large, mysterious creature, like a very tall man. He is said to be part goat or part sheep, sometimes both, and is usually depicted as having ram horns. Various other parts of his body may look more human, with him having claw-like human hands or a human chest, much like the goat version fo a Minotaur. Those who tell the story also say his body is deformed, with his skin deathly pale, and that his hair greasy and snarled.
That being said, it's impossible to know for sure, because the Pope Lick monster has no confirmed sightings. He is more often seen as just a strange shape in the woods, and instead people tend to find the remains of animals he has killed. Even then, legend of what he looks like persists as being a sort of freakish "goatman."
- Photo: kamicatzen / flickr / CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0
The Legends Tells Of A Literal Circus Of Horrors
The most popular origin legend of the Goatman AKA Pope Lick Monster has a rather strange and sad story. Supposedly, there was a man named Colonel Beauregard Schildnecht who was the ringmaster of a rather twisted traveling circus. He was not known as a kind or decent man, and was instead a liar and a cheat, who mistreated his performers. He ran his circus more like a gang, and thefts followed their show wherever it went. His main motivation in life, above all else, was money, and he was always searching for a new scam in order to get it.
One day, the circus passed Beltsville, Maryland, and he came across a poor deformed child to appeared to be half man and half goat. He took the creature with him, displaying it in a freak show in order to make money. The child began to grow up, getting larger and stronger, and the Colonel imprisoned the poor creature in a cage, where he was beaten, underfed, and mistreated his whole life. The monster's hatred for mankind began to grow with every additional offense, and he began plotting an escape.
The Creature Supposedly Escaped And Killed Its Captors
There are different versions of how the creature escaped, each one just as horrifying as the last. In keeping with the circus myth, some say that he escaped and was struck by lightening on the train trestle, which transformed him into a violent monster who hungered for blood. Others say that the animal escaped from the farmer who kept him prisoner, after killing the man and then fleeing into the woods.
The most detailed account has to do with a train crash. One stormy night, the circus train where the Goatman was being imprisoned was thundering along the trestle when lightening struck, causing ito to derail. The train crashed, killing nearly everyone inside, but the Goatman supposedly escaped. He then tore the survivors to shreds in bloody revenge, including the Colonel who had kept him prisoner all those years. Even after this, his blood-lust was not sated, and he has continued to seek revenge on all mankind ever since.
Interestingly enough, there is also a local Kentucky legend of a ghost train, and this crashed circus train is often thought to be that ghostly locomotive.
He Hypnotizes His Victims
Rather than kidnappings children or attacking people from trees as other violent cryptids supposedly do, the Pope Lick Goatman is much more clever. Reports say that he likes to lure people onto the train tracks or under the bridge into the shadows with his voice. Depending on who you ask, this is either done by hypnosis or some sort of strange siren call. If he calls you into the shadows, you will simply vanish as he leaps on you from the bridge above. More often, this sound will make you ignore the danger of the live train tracks, and venture onto them without a care in the world. Once there, it will be too late for you, and the train will run you down. The goat man doesn't even have to bloody his own hands in order to claim his victims.
- Photo: Jeff Power / flickr / CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0
People Actually Die Looking For Him
Unfortunately, even if the Goatman is only a legend, the deaths surrounding his bridge are very real. There are two confirmed cases of people dying on or below the bridge in 1987 and again in 1988. There are many injuries and close calls as well, which makes sense considering the trestle is 90 feet high and is over 700 feet across. Trains cross the bridge up to 25 times per day, and once you're on the middle of the bridge, there is no good way to get down or away from the oncoming impact.
There was even a more recent case in 2016. A couple from Ohio went searching for the monster, and were not able to get off the tracks when a train came rushing along. The boyfriend was able to save himself by dangling off the edge of the bridge, but even then the train came so close that it left a mark on his arm. His girlfriend, on the other hand, was struck by the train and died almost instantly. There are injuries almost every year by those seeking out the Pope Lick Monster. Whether they are just thrill seekers or are following the siren call of the Goatman, it's impossible to say.
Maryland's Goat Man May Be Linked To This Monster
Strangely enough, the Pope Lick Monster is not the only goat monster out there terrorizing folks. The Maryland Goatman is often depicted as being similar to the Pope Lick Monster, even though though they are states apart, with the Pope Lick Monster inhabiting Kentucky. This other monster supposedly targets lovers, and chases them down with an axe, scaring them and threatening to kill them. He also supposedly kills dogs, and makes a horrible squealing or screaming animal noise.
However, it has been suggested that the monsters are similar, or even the same creature. For one thing, the Pope Lick Monster legend says that he was originally found as a deformed infant in Beltsville, Maryland. The Maryland Goatman also lives on a bridge, where he lures people to their deaths. Whether or not these two are brothers, the same creature, or completely unrelated somehow, remains to be seen.