They say that if you go to Old Alton Bridge at midnight, and honk twice, that you will see the glowing red eyes of The Goat Man! They claim that some teenagers have gone out to explore the bridge at night and went missing, never to be seen again! Stories go that those teenagers were victims of The Goat Man’s Revenge — or maybe of “something else” just as sinister!
That’s what “they” say about “Goat Man’s Bridge.” Around Denton, as the spooky season of Halloween draws near, droves of
mischievous inquisitive teenagers (and truckloads of adults) drive south of town to an iron truss bridge that has long been closed to anything but foot traffic. Their goal is to see the ghost of The Goat Man. There are many legends about The Goat Man that, like the tale I told of Nurse Betty yesterday, are great for slumber party chills and thrills. I’ve included the most plausible story below, and it might be best to just sit around and tell tales. But, if you are an adventurous soul and decide to head out there in the dead of night with a group of friends, I want you to be thinking more about gators than ghosts! Gators could be the sinister “something else!”
Have y’all been seeing the pictures in the news of the huge gators that are being caught in Louisiana? This one isn’t a record breaker … it’s only 723 pounds, and a 13 foot long, 727 pound alligator was caught an hour later!
Thirteen feet long, eh? Well, take a gander at the picture below. It was shared with me by local resident Bill Colville. The picture was taken at Old Alton Bridge in 2008, and shows an alligator footprint. The game warden said that the alligator was probably between 13 and 16 feet long!!
Hopefully, that will make you cautious if you go to the bridge at night. Come to think of it, maybe you just want to share the story below around a comfy campfire in your back yard? Or, come with me on a Ghosts of Denton haunted tour. There are no alligators downtown, but there are plenty of ghosts.
The most plausible story of the Goat Man that I have found tells of a black man by the name of Oscar Washburn, who lived with his family in a cabin near the bridge. “Plausible,” but is it true? I’m not so sure. Here is the way the story is told:
Oscar Washburn raised goats, earning his money selling the meat and the milk. In fact, he made quite a decent living … which angered some of the white farmers in the area. They didn’t like goats in the first place, and they didn’t like people of color. It bothered those fellows that a black man was prospering more than they were. When Oscar put a sign on the bridge, with an arrow pointing to his home, which stated, “This way to the Goat Man,” it was the final straw for those men. They decided it was time for Oscar Washburn to learn a lesson, and they planned to teach it to him.
Dressed in the white cloaks and hoods of the Ku Klux Klan, these men drove out to the bridge in August of 1938. They turned off their lights to cross the bridge so that Oscar Washburn wouldn’t hear them coming to get him. The men dragged Washburn out of his house and down to the bridge, where they slipped a noose over his head and tossed him over the rails to lynch him. However, when they looked over the side to admire their handiwork, the noose swung empty! In a rage that Washburn had somehow managed to escape the fate they had planned for him, the men swarmed back to Washburn’s home and burned it down — with his family inside!
To this day, the ghost of Oscar Washburn, the Goat Man, haunts to bridge hoping to get his revenge.
EEEeek! A hair raising story, indeed! That story sounds like it could have happened. In fact, a man on my ghost tour said, “I know the story is true because my Grandfather told it to me. He was living here then and remembered it happening.”
Perhaps. I’m not saying his Granddaddy is lying. Granddaddies never lie, they just sometimes “embroider the truth.” And, memories can be faulty. You can believe it if you want, but I think it’s just a spooky legend.
I’m not saying that the bridge isn’t haunted. It is! In fact, paranormal investigators in the area say that it definitely has spooky activity, and they never fail to experience haunted happenings there. However, if there was a Goat Man, he probably wasn’t named “Oscar Washburn,” and it probably didn’t happen in the time frame that is mentioned. Two years of searching records show me that facts don’t support the story the way it is told.
If you go out to the Old Alton Bridge this Halloween to find out for yourself, take bug spray, a flashlight, and be on your guard. You could probably outrun a gator (some say that they can only run 8 or 9 miles per hour) and he probably wouldn’t attack you in the first place (alligators prefer an easy meal that they can swallow in one bite) … but don’t take chances! There is more to fear than ghosts at Goat Man’s Bridge — there are gators.
And, since 2008 that thirteen to sixteen foot alligator has had time to grow…