11 min read

I went to Goatman’s Bridge (Goatman’s Bridge Series)

I went to Goatman’s Bridge (Goatman’s Bridge Series)

I went to Goatman’s Bridge: In December 2021, I visited the Old Alton Bridge. Here’s what it’s like to visit the famously haunted bridge, as well as the history of the bridge itself.

Highlights include:
• Lots of mud
• Some bridge trivia
• Some . . . interesting . . . reviews of the bridge that I found

CONTENT NOTE: I talk about gun use in this episode (not about people getting shot, but about people shooting guns near the bridge because they’re bored.) If you don’t want to hear about that, then definitely skip this episode. You should be fine to pick back up on the series in the next episode.

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Episode Script for I went to Goatman’s Bridge (Goatman’s Bridge Series)

DISCLAIMER: I’m providing this version of the script for accessibility purposes. It hasn’t been proofread, so please excuse typos. There are also some things that may differ between the final episode and this draft script. Please treat the episode audio as the final product. 

  • Intro

    • In this episode, I want to talk about the history of the Old Alton Bridge, or Goatman’s Bridge, and the first, and so far only, time I’ve visited it.
    • Mention: Youtube takedown

    Old Alton Bridge History

    • What is the Old Alton Bridge?
      • The Old Alton Bridge was constructed in 1884. 
      • It’s the only remaining iron Pratt-truss bridge in the county.
      • The bridge is 145 feet long, and it’s over a sort of river, the Hickory Creek Tributary, at Copper Canyon Road, though the road was rerouted in 1997 or maybe 2001 (sources differ), when a new concrete and steel bridge was built.
      • The bridge was built using a kit from the King Iron Bridge Manufacturing Company in Ohio, which apparently supplied many bridges in Texas and around North America. I just love the idea of building a bridge from a kit.
      • The purpose of the bridge was to create a path for travelers who were going between the larger towns of Denton and Dallas, and it was called the Old Alton Bridge because it was right near a small town called Alton. The location of the bridge had formerly been a popular ford for crossing cattle.
        • At the time the bridge was built, Alton, which had been the county seat from 1850-1856, was in a decline. I read on legendsofamerica.com that at its inception, the town of Alton was laid out, and they sold lots, but that none of the planned public buildings were built. Apparently there was only one residence in town, the home of one W.C. Baines, who had a farmstead there for a while. So county business just happened at his house.
        • However, it sounds like the area lacked potable water, despite being near Pecan Creek and Hickory Creek, so they moved the county seat again, calling the new location Alton. The new Alton ended up growing a bit, and it had a hotel, stores, some homes, a blacksmith’s shop, a school, a church, a saloon, a hotel, and even some doctors and lawyers.
        • However, apparently most people were still unhappy with it as the location of the county seat. So the county seat was moved again, in 1857, to Denton, which was more centrally located and had a better water supply.
        • Many of the businesses in Alton moved to Denton. Even the post office closed in 1859, less than 10 years after the new town of Alton had been established.
          • Nowadays, all that’s left of the town is the Hickory Creek Baptist Church, and the Old Alton Cemetery, which dates back to 1852 and is next to the church. However, I believe that the original church building is long gone.
        • So, fast forward to 1884, when the Old Alton Bridge was built.
        • I read in some sources that the hope was that the bridge would help revitalize that area, but it sounds like Alton was basically abandoned at that point.
        • It sounds like the bridge was frequently used to carry traffic from the old postal road, and the Ranger patrol trail.
      • At first, horses were used to cross the bridge, but then later on, once cars were a thing, the bridge was used by cars. 
        • It was a single-lane bridge, so up until the new bridge was opened, cars had to honk their horns before crossing, and take turns crossing from each direction. It sounds like it must have been a real pain. 
        • It’s wild to me that I was living in the area, very close to the bridge, at the time when the old bridge was still in use.
        • It was apparently heavily used up until 1997, when it was declared unsafe for vehicular traffic. The bridge was renovated in 1998. Then the Old Alton Bridge was closed, and a new bridge was opened right next to it. 
        • In 2000, the Old Alton Bridge was restored again. They added guard rails to the approaches to the bridge, and steel lattice to the sides, to keep pedestrians from falling off the bridge. They also repainted and refinished it. 
      • The bridge had been added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1988, and it finally became a Texas Historic Landmark in 2010.
      • Nowadays, it’s part of a hiking trail and a bridle trail for horses.

    Visiting the bridge

    • I first heard of the Old Alton Bridge in 2019, when I heard a podcast episode about it. (I think it was an episode of Graveyard Tales.) At that point, I’d been living in NYC for more than a decade, and was surprised to hear of an apparently famous haunted bridge in my old neck of the woods. It seemed like something I should have heard of before.
      • What surprised me was that the Old Alton Bridge, which is near Denton, Texas, is very close to where I grew up. 
        • I wasn’t much of a driver when I was a teenager, but it was so close that I would have been completely comfortable driving there, technically I could have even biked there, and almost nothing in Texas is biking distance. 
        • I was bummed out that I hadn’t heard of it until 2019. I was pretty bored growing up, so it would have been cool to check out somewhere interesting like this trail, which is naturally very popular among teenagers in the area.
    • Then, in 2020, I was googling for urban legends near my hometown in Texas and found the story of the Old Alton Bridge. I was excited to check it out, so I planned to go there when visiting my parents for Christmas, but that plan was scuttled when we couldn’t travel because of COVID.
      • So then last Christmas, in 2021, I was finally in Texas with my family. I very innocently suggested that we go for a hike at the Elm Fork Hiking and Equestrian Trail, a nearby place that I heard was good . . . and of course that place was the location of the Old Alton Bridge.
        • I thought my family would assume that I wanted to go there for paranormal reasons, but I guess they just took me for my word when I said I wanted to go to this hiking trail, which just happens to have an interesting historic bridge.
      • Now, I thought the trail was a little muddy but otherwise fine, but my wife and my mom weren’t so happy with the location. They were just like, “What is this weird place that you dragged us to?” Which is fair.
      • We didn’t spend that much time at the bridge; we walked around, took some pictures, and then walked maybe a quarter mile down one of the hiking trails, but it was extremely muddy, and I felt guilty dragging everyone there, so then we turned back and left. I didn’t do any kind of paranormal investigation or anything while I was there, but it was definitely cool to see it.
      • I posted a picture of the bridge on Instagram to see if anyone recognized it, and I was surprised by how many people knew it, since I grew up nearby but hadn’t been familiar with it. However, apparently it’s very well known for being on an episode of Ghost Adventures and Buzzfeed Unsolved: Supernatural, which I’ve never really watched, but which I know are super popular.

    Yelp and Google reviews

    • Later in the series, when I examine all of the specific claims of the paranormal that I’ve been able to find about the Old Alton Bridge. I’ve done a deep dive into Yelp and Google reviews, YouTube comments, and basically anything that mentions the paranormal there. But just to help set the stage and get some other people’s thoughts on what it’s like to visit the bridge, I wanted to read a few yelp and google reviews to illustrate the type of vibe that the area had:
      • Christine M. from Gainesville, TX, gave it 3 stars in 2019, saying:
        • “We signed up for a ghost tour on a  Friday night froM 7-11.. we encountered a bunch of teens smoking out and a car driving by shooting a handgun out the window ( drive by shooting in the park) who does that … it’s a cool place other then that” (Yelp)
      • Richard L. from Frisco, TX, gave it 1 star in 2021 and said:
        • “I am mystified by these positive reviews. This is a great place to do two things: get eaten alive by mosquitoes, or be murdered. I came here to take photos. If you enjoy pics of broken televisions and pornographic graffiti, it’s a fantastic opportunity. Otherwise, do not stop here unless your car dies. Even then, stay in the car, wait for AAA, and pray.” (Yelp)
      • Travis M. from Dallas rated it 5 stars in 2018, with what I assume is a sarcastic review:
        • “Great experience! We went there late at night and there were plenty of locals who were more than happy to lead us off into the woods down dark paths with no cell service. For casual encounters with crackheads and the occasional supernatural sighting that’s probably just a robbery taking place look no further! Bring your family and your favorite self defense tool.” (Yelp)
      • Russell O says: 
        • “Too many teenagers screaming and using profanity.  Might be better on a weeknight.  Other than that, the trail is interesting.  Lots of history there.”
        • 3 stars (Google)
      • But the reviews aren’t all bad.
        • Kaitlin B said:
          • “Whether you’re “just here for the cult stuff,” the history, or the hiking, you really can’t lose.  As long as you’re expecting the graffiti, it’s not a bad place to go for a easy hiking trail.  It hugs the water.  The trail was a lot less secluded than I was expecting.  I went on a Tuesday morning and came across several hikers.  I wouldn’t necessarily bring children to the actual bridge.  When I went, the bridge itself had what appeared to be prop blood on it.  But if you live in the area, it’s a nice little piece of history (and ghost story).”
          • 5 stars (Google)

    • As you may have observed, lot of reviewers complained about the graffiti on the bridge.
      • Ally K, who visited in 2019, posted a picture of a pentagram spray painted on the bridge’s wooden deck. When I visited, I did see a pentagram, but it was painted in the concrete near the new bridge.
      • I assume these pentagrams were spray painted by teenagers who want to be edgy, not by actual satanists, though who knows. 
        • Though to be clear, if the graffiti was by actual satanists, I wouldn’t have a problem with that. It just seems like a really juvenile thing to do, so my money is on the teenagers.
        • I will say that based on the number of reviews complaining about the graffiti, if you wanted to annoy adults, vandalism would be an effective way to do it. 
      • Which, again, is why it seems like a thing teenagers would be doing. Also, none of the graffiti that I saw there was particularly skillfully done, so I doubt they were the work of adults. 
      • A reviewer named Jay C describes the vibe of the bridge very well: “The bridge itself has been somewhat disrespected but in a kind Gen Z type way.” I totally agree with that.
      • One reviewer said it could get pretty crowded with people taking wedding and graduation photos, which is a really interesting creative choice to me, but one that I respect.
      • Many reviewers also said there were lots of mosquitos, one person (who was a reptile fan) said it was a great place to see snakes, and a bug enthusiast said it’s a great place to find cool beetles and millipedes. 
        • Oh also, there was one review that just said “Too many spiders” three stars. 
        • Folks have said that you should beware of poison ivy and poison oak, but there are also beautiful plants including wild passion flowers. I had no idea those grew in that area, but some folks posted really beautiful pictures of them. Apparently there are also mustang grapes.
      • Also, reviewers have said that there are wild boar and bobcats in the area, so when we’re thinking about things that might be roaming around in the woods that people might mistake for something paranormal, keep in mind that there are plenty of animals around. I would assume that there are also coyotes, since there are plenty in the area, but I don’t think I saw anyone mention them.
      • Other things you should know if you visit is that apparently there aren’t restroom facilities there. And you should bring plenty of water because I’m not sure that there are water fountains; I didn’t see any, at least.
    • I feel like some of these reviews are a little extreme, but since so many people have guns and are bored, they might not be 100% off base about the area around the Old Alton Bridge being dangerous because of irresponsible humans, at least sometimes.

    Outro

    • That’s the history of the bridge, and what it’s like visiting it today. 
    • Next time, I want to get into the most popular legends behind the Old Alton Bridge’s hauntings.

Sources consulted RE: I went to Goatman’s Bridge (Goatman’s Bridge Series)

Books consulted: I went to Goatman’s Bridge (Goatman’s Bridge Series)

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