Pope Lick Monster
The Pope Lick Monster is an alleged human-goat cryptid native to Pope Lick Creek, Louisville, Kentucky. The monster allegedly lurks around the train trestle bridge that passes over the creek in the Fisherville neighborhood.
Local lore describes it as a human-goat chimera (or human-sheep chimera). A chimera is a monster composed of different animal parts, meaning that the Pope Lick Monster is part human and part goat.
Members of the local communities have shared stories about the monster for generations.
The origins of the Pope Lick Monster legend are not clear. However, The Beltsville News reported that there are several Goatman legends in American folkloric traditions.
Louisville residents have shared tales about the Pope Lick Monster for years.
The Pope Lick Monster is a human-goat hybrid
The legends described the Pope Lick Monster as a hideous-looking human-goat hybrid (or human-sheep hybrid) that lurks around the Pope Lick train trestle bridge built in the late 1800s.
The trestle bridge is near Taylorsville Road and Interstate 265, north of the entrance to Pope Lick Park in Louisville. It is part of the Norfolk Southern railroad that runs through the park and over Pope Lick Creek. It is about 90 feet high and has a length of about 742 feet.
Urban legend describes the cryptid as having a humanoid head, a powerfully built upper body, and furry goat legs. It has a pair of short horns on the sides of its head. It also has a shock of hair that looks like animal fur and big goat-like ears.
Pope Lick Monster behavior
The Pope Lick Monster habitually and maliciously preys on people who wander near the bridge. Most accounts claimed it employs deception to lure victims onto the bridge.
When a train approaches, the monster hypnotizes people in the vicinity and makes them get on the track. It may also mimic the sound of a crying child to lure people onto the bridge and get them run over by a train.
Some accounts claimed that after it successfully lured people onto the track, it attacked them with a bloody hand-axe. The monstrous creature would sometimes leap off the trestle onto cars passing beneath and attack drivers and passengers.
Pope Lick Monster origin stories
There are many conflicting accounts about the Pope Lick Monster’s origin.
One account claimed the monster was once a hideously deformed circus freak. People abused and mistreated him because of his looks. So, he vowed to get back at them.
It began seeking vengeance after escaping from a crashed circus train.
Another version of the origin story said that a train was transporting a monster to an unknown destination when it derailed near Pope Lick Park. The monster escaped from one of the carriages and began haunting the trestle bridge area.
Another origin story claimed it was a Native American skinwalker ( a witch doctor) who vowed vengeance against European settlers.
Yet another story said he was once a farmer who fell on hard times due to successive years of crop failure. He attempted to revive his fortunes by making a pact with the Devil. Things went wrong while he was sacrificing goats to seal the agreement.
Tourist accidents and deaths
The trestle bridge became a tourist attraction due to the interest generated by the legend of the Pope Lick Monster. Tourists, monster hunters, and thrill-seekers who climbed the trestle have suffered accidents, and some have died.
Here are some of the tragic incidents at the site over the years:
John List, 1985
In 1985, John List and a friend, Randall Graves, were walking on the bridge when they heard a train approaching. The train hit and killed List, but his friend Graves survived by hanging on the side of the wooden track.
David Wayne Brant, 1986
In 1986, a young man, David Wayne Bryant, jumped off the train track while trying to avoid an oncoming train. He sustained severe injuries due to the fall and later died.
Jack ‘J.C.’ Charles Bahm, 1988
In 1988, a train hit and killed 17-year-old Jack “J.C.” Charles Bahm II of Spalding University while on the trestle.
James Ratterman, 1994
A train hit and killed 35-year-old James Ratterman when he tried to cross the trestle in an ATV. The vehicle overturned on the track and an oncoming train ran over him.
Nicholas Jewell, 2000
Nicholas Jewell, a 19-year-old University of Florida student, was walking on the bridge when he heard a train approaching. He tried to save his life by dangling from the trestle, but he lost his grip and fell.
Roquel Bain, 2016
On April 23, 2016, Roquel Bain of Dayton, Ohio, lost her life while she and her boyfriend, David Knee, were investigating the Pople Lick Monster as part of a paranormal excursion.
A train hit Bain while she and Knee were walking on the wooden trestle. Knee escaped by hanging onto the metal on the side of the bridge as the train passed.
According to the Courier-Journal, he watched as the train hit Roquel and knocked her over the side. The mother of a one-year-old fell 90 feet to her death.
Savanna Bright, 2016
In May 2016, 15-year-old Savanna Bright died on the train track, but her companion survived.
Bright and her friend, Kaylee Keeling, students at Seneca High School, were walking on the bridge at about 9:10 p.m. on May 26, 2019, when a train hit them.
Keeling survived with serious injuries, but Bright died at the scene.
According to the Courier-Journal, Savanna’s parents filed a lawsuit against Norfolk Southern Railway in May 2020, a year after the tragic incident. They accused the company of failing to take measures that would have kept their daughter and other victims from accessing the trestle.
Many of the accidents at the site were purportedly due to tourists believing that the bridge was out of service.
For instance, Roquel Bain’s boyfriend, David Knee, told the Courier-Journal that the bridge looked so old and rickety that he thought it was out of service.
Ron Schildknecht: The Legend of the Pope Lick Monster
The Pope Lick Monster haunting the trestle bridge area was the subject of Ron Schildknecht’s short film, The Legend of the Pope Lick Monster, released in 1988.
The Norfolk Southern Railway authorities expressed concern about the movie. They feared that some of the scenes could encourage more thrill seekers to risk their lives by walking on the bridge.
During the December 29 premiere for the movie, the company released a statement warning people about getting on the trestle. They warned that trespassers would be arrested and prosecuted.
The company also installed a high fence on the sides, but many adventurers scaled it to access the track.
Sightings and Tales
Besides rumors based on urban legends surrounding the Pope Lick Monster, there are no well-known claimed sightings of the monster.
Much of what we know about the Pope Lick Monster comes from stories members of the surrounding communities have shared for many years.
|Other Name/s||Pope Lick Monster, Goat Man, The Kentucky Goat man|
Where to find
The Encyclopedia of Louisville, John E. Kleber, 2001.
https://www.dailydot.com/unclick/pope-lick-monster-myth-deaths/, “The strange, unexplained, and deadly allure of the Pope Lick Monster,” accessed on February 14, 2023.
https://www.courier-journal.com/story/news/local/2016/05/05/pope-lick-monster-survivor-says-charges-unfair/83840134/, “Pope Lick ‘monster’ survivor ‘mentally crushed’,” accessed on February, 15, 2023.
https://www.wave3.com/2019/05/30/stay-off-tracks-officials-warn-residents-about-pope-lick-train-trestle/, “Stay off the tracks’: Officials warn of deadly history of Pope Lick train trestle,” accessed on February, 15, 2023.
https://www.courier-journal.com/story/news/local/2020/05/28/parents-louisville-girl-savanna-bright-killed-pope-lick-trestle-sue-railroad/5273184002/, “Parents of 15-year-old Louisville girl killed on Pope Lick trestle sue railroad company,” accessed on February, 15, 2023.
https://www.whas11.com/article/news/local/push-changes-on-deadly-pope-lick-trestle/417-1c502a3d-8c63-4553-a962-d7ba75146bce, “Pope Lick Legend: Loved ones of those who died on trestle push for change,” accessed on February 15, 2023.
https://www.beargrassthunder.com/post/dangers-of-the-deadly-pope-lick-trestle, “Dangers of Louisville’s deadly Pope Lick Trestle,” accessed on February, 15, 2023.
https://www.beargrassthunder.com/post/legend-of-the-pope-lick-trestle, “Legends of the deadly Pope Lick Trestle: deaths & injuries from real monsters,” accessed on February, 15, 2023.
https://www.newspapers.com/clip/14664487/nicholas-ledman-jewell-obituary-the/, “Nicholas Ledman Jewell – Obituary – The Courier-Journal 7 Nov 2000,” accessed on February 14, 2023.
https://ronschildknecht.com/thelegendofthepopelickmonster, “The Legend of the Pope Lick Monster,” accessed on February, 15, 2023.
https://www.beltsvillenewstoday.com/post/the-legend-of-the-goatman-by-natasha-okpala, “The Legend of The Goatman By Natasha Okpala,” accessed on February, 15, 2023.
- The Pope Lick Monster is a half-man, half-goat monster that lives around a railraod trestle bridge in Louisville, Kentucky. Pic credit: I.am_nah/Unsplash