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Cloven-Hoof Cryptids: Legend of the Maryland Goatman and the Pope Lick Monster

The two most famous goat-like cryptids cause havoc in their respective American hometowns.


When it comes to urban legends, there is a tendency for certain themes  and motifs to reoccur. This pattern has been cited by cryptozoologists  and paranormal investigators many times over the years, used as evidence  both for and against the truth of the stories being presented.

One such reoccurrence is in the frequency of stories about “goatmen,”  which have been sighted in places as varied as Texas and Wisconsin. In  fact, stories of goat-like humanoids go back at least as far as the  satyrs of ancient Greek myth, and have ties to typical portrayals of the  Christian devil. But perhaps the two most famous goat-like cryptids in  America bear some other striking similarities: the Maryland Goatman and  the Pope Lick Monster, who purportedly lurks near Louisville, Kentucky.

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"Screams That Only the Devil Himself Would Make”: The Maryland Goatman


The Maryland Goatman of Prince Georges County, Maryland has been  sighted since the 1950s, and is probably the best-known and most  persistent variation on the goatman story in the United States. Like  many other urban legends, the Goatman is fond of lovers lanes, where he  is often spotted by teenage couples. The Maryland Goatman is most  frequently associated with stretches of Fletchertown Road and Lottsford  Road in Prince Georges County—areas that were once sparsely populated,  but nowadays have as many houses and malls as forested stretches for the  goatman to lurk. 

A favorite account claims that the Maryland Goatman was once a  scientist named Stephen Fletcher who worked at the nearby Beltsville  Agricultural Research Center conducting DNA experiments on goats, until a  tragic accident led to him becoming part-goat himself. The Center  doesn’t put much stock into the legends, though, at least according to  spokesperson Kim Kaplan, who was quoted in Modern Farmer as saying, “I  mean it’s so silly, it’s not even something that’s joked about.” But of  course, if the Center was indirectly responsible for the creation of the  goatman, they’d certainly have reason to deny their involvement. 

After all, no matter what their suppositions about his origins, the  stories almost all agree that the Maryland Goatman is bloodthirsty. He  is said to roam the back roads, attacking cars with a bloody axe.  According to one source, the Maryland Goatman was blamed for the brutal  murders of 14 hikers in 1962, their bodies chopped to pieces while the  goatman emitted “screams that only the devil himself would make.” 

There may not be a lot of evidence to back that one up, but in 1971, a puppy named Ginger was decapitated in the city of Bowie. The incident was covered by the Washington Post,  which described the poor dog as having been “decapitated cleanly at the  neck.” The reporter went on to note that, “The body is not found.”  While the article itself speculated that a train might have been  responsible, some locals quoted in the article pointed the finger at the  Maryland Goatman.

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Death Lurks Beneath the Trestle: The Pope Lick Monster


In spite of its name, the Pope Lick Monster does not, in fact, lick  the Pope. (I know, I’m disappointed too.) Instead, the monster is named  for the railroad trestle over Pope Lick Creek, where it is most often  sighted. And while the Maryland Goatman may or may not have butchered  those 14 hikers back in 1962, the Pope Lick Monster has the distinction  of being one of the few cryptids in America who is responsible for  several documented deaths, however indirectly. 

Like the Maryland Goatman, the Pope Lick Monster is described as  having the head and legs of a goat with a human body, and like the  Maryland Goatman, the Pope Lick Monster is often said to employ a bloody  axe, leaping down from the trestle to attack passing cars. Other  stories allege that it uses hypnosis or mimics the voice of friends and  loved ones to lure its victims onto the railroad bridge and in front of  an oncoming train. According to a resident quoted by WDRB.com, teenagers  would dare each other to cross the trestle at night, saying that the  Pope Lick Monster would reach up from between the tracks to grab their  ankles and hold them in place until they were hit by the train. 

As to where the Pope Lick Monster comes from, like its Maryland  counterpart, stories vary. Some say that the Pope Lick Monster was once a  circus performer, who escaped after the train that was carrying it  derailed on the trestle, while others hold that the monster is the  spirit of a farmer who sacrificed goats to the devil in exchange for  supernatural powers. 

Whether or not the Pope Lick Monster is real, it has been the cause  of a number of deaths on the railroad trestle running above Pope Lick  Creek. Over the years, several legend trippers have died on the trestle  while searching for the Pope Lick Monster, with the most recent being  just a few months ago in April of 2016. In spite of legends to the  contrary, the tracks are still in regular use by the Norfolk Southern  Railroad, who encourage would-be monster hunters to stay off the  trestle, and warn that trespassers will be arrested for their own  safety. 

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