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Notes For Unsolved: Goatman's Bridge

Research notes for Supernatural Season 3 Episode 4

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**Research compiled for Ryan on August 9, 2017 by Kari Koeppel.

Old Alton Bridge, Old Alton Road, Denton, TX 76210

The Bridge Itself

  • Old Alton Bridge is one lane, 145 feet long, 14 feet wide, and runs east-west.

  • It is no longer operating as a working bridge, but it is still open to pedestrians.

  • It was built in 1884, with the final inspection and approval of the bridge occurred on September 22, 1884.

  • It is Denton County’s oldest remaining Pratt-truss iron bridge (one of the most popular styles of bridge in Texas, as well as the rest of the US in that time period), and one of the oldest in the state.

  • It is also known as the Copper Canyon Road Bridge, because the road crossing the street was called Copper Canyon Road. It is now located off Old Alton Road (presumably named for the bridge).

  • The bridge was reportedly built from a kit provided by the King Iron Bridge and Manufacturing Company of Cleveland.

  • The Old Alton Bridge was originally built to connect the town of Alton to Denton over Hickory Creek, a tributary of the Elm fork of the Trinity River. It is a wooded, rural setting. The bridge was part of the main road from Denton to Dallas.

  • Alton was a tiny town that originally consisted of one person when it was established in 1848. It was chosen as the legal center of Denton County.

  • After the county seat was moved to Denton, residents of Alton moved to other towns, and Alton eventually disappeared.

  • The bridge was originally placed near Alton, despite the fact that it was a diminishing community, because the county hoped that the road and bridge would help reinvigorate the town. It did not work.

  • The bridge then connected Denton to Copper Canyon.

  • According to the bridge’s application for the National Register of Historic Places, the bridge was “a sign of modernity and permanency.”

  • In 1988, the Old Alton Bridge was placed on the National Register of Historic Places for its architecture and engineering. The National Register of Historic Places lists its period of significance as 1875-1899.

  • At the time of its being placed on the National Register for Historic Places, the bridge was technically on US Army Corps of Engineering property, although the bridge itself did not belong to them.

  • Because the Old Alton Bridge was only one lane, drivers would have to honk their horn when they got on the bridge to give a warning that they were crossing the bridge.

  • In 2001, the vehicular use of the bridge was replaced by a new adjacent concrete and steel bridge.

  • In 2012, Old Alton Bridge was named a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark.

The Legend Behind The Bridge

  • About 50 years after the bridge was built (so in the 1930s), an African American man named Oscar Washburn and his family lived in Denton, TX, reportedly near the bridge.

  • He was a successful goat farmer, who became locally known as the Goatman.

  • Reportedly at one point he put a sign on the Old Alton Bridge advertising his business (which was near the bridge) that read, “this way to the goat man’s.”

  • Local Ku Klux Klan members were reportedly threatened by his success.

  • In August 1938, Klansman reportedly forcefully took Washburn from his home to the bridge, and hung him with a noose from the side of the bridge.

  • However, when they looked down the side of the bridge to view Washburn’s body, it had reportedly disappeared from the noose, which caused the Klansman to panic.

  • They then returned to Washburn’s home and killed the rest of his family.

  • Washburn’s body was reportedly never seen again.

  • This is all just a legend, as there is no historical record corroborating the story.

The Haunting Of The Bridge

  • According to lore, Oscar Washburn - or the Goatman - now haunts Old Alton Bridge (sometimes colloquially called Goatman’s Bridge, especially on the internet).

  • Legend has it that over the years since his murder/disappearance, many abandoned cars have been found on the bridge (when it was still operating as a vehicular bridge), as well as several reports of missing people who were never found. (Research note: could not corroborate this with a good source, should state as rumor)

  • Others have reported hearing strange noises such as laughing, growling, horses’ hooves (Research note: or goat hooves?), or splashes in the water below.

  • Sightings of a ghostly figure appearing on the bridge have been reported, including some saying that the apparition was that of a half-man, half-goat being.

  • People say it is most common to see the Goatman around Halloween, and that he has “glowing, empty eyes.”

  • Others have reported seeing the ghostly figure of a woman, and hearing a woman’s voice or laughter.

  • There have also been sightings of strange lights.

  • One woman reported seeing an orange light that expanded into a long beam shooting straight into the air for several seconds before disappearing, with this phenomenon repeating itself twice.

  • This same woman reports using a K-II meter on Old Alton Bridge to ask the spirit there what gender it was, getting the result several times that the spirit was a woman.

  • There are many reportings of paranormal activity on the bridge.

  • People have reported a growling voice telling them to “get off the bridge.”

  • One person said that after he and his friend heard the voice, he ran off the bridge while his friend stayed. He then reportedly watched his friend get dragged towards the railing of the bridge and flipped into the water below.

  • Visitors have reported an “odd energy” in the area.

  • People have reported hearing hooves following them across the bridge, as if they were being chased off.

  • There is no photographic evidence of the Goatman apparition.

  • One blog says that knocking three times on the bridge may summon the spirit. (Research note: I did not read this anywhere else, but it couldn’t hurt to try?)

  • Several sources report a variation on: if you honk your car horn twice (some versions say three times) towards the bridge (since cars can no longer go on the bridge itself), the glowing eyes of the Goatman will appear.

  • One version says that this should happen at midnight.

  • Another common story (Research note: which lacks detail) is that Satanic rituals would take place on or near the bridge.

  • Some versions of the Goatman story have the Ku Klux Klan being involved in Satanic rituals, or that the Satanic rituals were what summoned the half-man, half-goat spirit, separate from the story of Oscar Washburn.

Fun Facts

  • Reportedly, a stretch of highway near the Old Alton Bridge has been adopted by the Denton County Paranormal Investigators.

  • Satanists opened up a portal that released this inhuman demonic entity that is half man half goat.

  • Knocking 3 times summons the goatman

  • Folklore often refers to bridges as portals crossing over into different dimensions.

Ghost Adventures

  • Investigator claims she saw the goatman appear on the shore when doing an EVP in the middle of the bridge

  • The forest is rumored to have occultists and satanists attempting to conjure demonic forces in the forest, a paranormal investigator claims to find evidence of animal sacrificial rituals

  • Multiple women claim they were scratched 3 times, a mocking of the holy trinity

  • multiple instances of women claiming they feel strong feelings of aggression, one instance a woman envisioned murdering her fellow investigators.

  • 3 different investigators picked up on an entity calling itself Steve

  • An entity in the forest seems to go after women

  • This entity is violent, and has gotten physical with people who encounter it.

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