Mysteries, Oddities, and Everything Strange: Goatman


Bridget Vaughan, Staff Writer

Goatman: Half-Man, Half-Goat Beast

Fans of Buzzfeed Unsolved might be familiar with a little old bridge in Lantana, Texas known as the Old Alton Bridge. This structure would have faded into obscurity, existing as a small iron truss bridge across a creek in northeastern Texas near Dallas, but one small legend skyrocketed it into somewhat of an urban legend for cryptid enthusiasts: the Goatman. But what is this eerie goat figure tossed about from mouth to mouth in the small town of Denton, Texas? Does it truly haunt the Old Alton Bridge, or is it simply a legend meant to spook tourists?

The Goatman is said to be a half-human half-goat figure with glowing eyes and a loud gait. The widely accepted origin story of the Goatman comes from Oscar Washburn, an African-American goat farmer, who moved into the area nearby the bridge. He became very successful in his industry, earning the nickname “Goatman,” but local Klansmen were upset about his triumph, so they captured and hung him off the bridge. After the hanging, the people noticed he had disappeared, so they murdered his wife and family and fled. This story is mostly unlikely, as there were no records of any Oscar Washburn living anywhere in the area. Others claim that the bridge is haunted by the Goatman’s wife or even Satanists. The legend states that knocking on the bridge three times, as with other folktales, will summon the Goatman. 

The bridge in question, the Old Alton Bridge, used to be a center of hubbub and transportation throughout the nearby area. Recently, though, the Old Alton Bridge was converted into an exclusively pedestrian bridge, for tourists, investigators, and adventurers alike. The bridge also has its fair share of graffiti, including a simple “Shane’s bridge” after the Buzzfeed Unsolved investigators explored the premises.

Speaking of Buzzfeed Unsolved, they began the most well known investigation of this mystery in decades. Paranormal enthusiasts Shane Madej and Ryan Bergara filmed a web documentary in 2017 highlighting the mystery as part of their series Buzzfeed Unsolved: Supernatural, entitled “The Demonic Goatman’s Bridge”. They explored the bridge itself and the woods beyond, attempting to solve the puzzling legend of the Goatman. They even tried to use an Ouija Board, a spirit box, and a salt circle to communicate with any surrounding spirits. Despite their dedication, they found no evidence of the existence of the Goatman. 

Although the most well-known location of the Goatman is the Old Alton Bridge, it has been sighted in hundreds of locations across the globe. Goatman has made its mark in Prince George’s County, Maryland, with countless sightings. It has been rumored to terrorize farms after teenage meddling, roam the surrounding woods, and even be the result of an experiment by the Beltsville Research Agricultural Center, which the USDA had to publicly denounce. It has attacked pets and small children, most commonly spotted along Fletchertown Road. Local resident Mark Opsasnick was inspired by the tales of the Goatman and would go Goatman hunting with his friends. It heavily influenced the culture of the town in the 1960’s and 1970’s, becoming an urban legend to be passed down from generation to generation.

The Goatman has little to no evidence to support its existence, but its impact on pop culture and mystery is undoubtedly massive. It gave a jump-start to one of the largest supernatural investigation series on YouTube and provided a piece of culture to an otherwise unknown town in Maryland. The Goatman is a hybrid for ghost stories and horror tales to detail for years to come, and its notoriety is not to be forgotten.