17 min read

Rewriting Urban Legends (Goatman's Bridge Series)

An attempt to trace the current tales of the Goatman’s Bridge to their source: a 2008 YouTube video that contained seemingly new information about the urban legend, including some information that linked the story to the Mothman legends.
Rewriting Urban Legends (Goatman's Bridge Series)

Rewriting Urban Legends: An attempt to trace the current tales of the Goatman’s Bridge to their source: a 2008 YouTube video that contained seemingly new information about the urban legend, including some information that linked the story to the Mothman legends.

Highlights include:
• Thoughts about how the internet transforms and changes urban legends
• A little digital gumshoeing
• Some Mothman easter eggs

 

Episode Script for Rewriting Urban Legends (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. (Especially because I use dictation software for a lot of my script writing!) 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. 

  • I’d like to loop back to some of the trickster stories I mentioned in the first episode of this series.
  • I’d like to go through a timeline of the Goatman’s Bridge legend as it’s now known. My understanding is that the legend had been circulating for some time, but as I talked about in the first episode of this series, there was a clear difference between pre-July 2008 stories about the Goatman’s bridge, and post-July 2008 stories. My sense is that this was the moment when one version of the story was codified into something resembling the “truth,” at least as far as the internet was concerned. And also, as far as I’ve been able to tell, that’s when the Goatman was given the name Oscar Washburn.

The Youtube video

  • On July 25, 2008, someone who I’m going to call Leland (not his real name) posted a 2-minute youtube video telling the story of the Old Alton Bridge.
  • “However, the goatman’s bridge is haunted. I went there back in highschool with a group of people. We walked down one of the paths, and I swear something started chasing us! It might have just been a racoon or something…but it was moving in our direction, and we all bolted out of there! Running across the bridge back to the car and then on that gravel is damn scary. I always thought that the Goatman was a black goat farmer, lynched by the KKK for putting a sign up on the bridge. And I am pretty sure that it took place in the 1930s, not 1800s, because the bridge wasn’t built until 1884 i think. There are news reports of abandoned cars on the bridge from the 1960s for sure.”

    •  haven’t been able to find mentions of Oscar Washburn prior to 2008. But I did find someone with the same screen name as Leland’s youtube channel name posting the story on a forum on March 4, 2008, though without the name Oscar Washburn. 
  • The video makes a number of claims, including this bit, which appears in the viedo as well as the first line of the video description, which has a transcript of the voiceover: November 15th 1967: police discover an abandoned car beside Old Alton Bridge, five miles south of Denton, Texas. A rash of mysterious disappearances are becoming alarmingly routine on a chilling stretch of road that is known by locals as “the Goatman’s bridge.”
    • It sounds like the first comment was on July 2, 2010, on randomconnections.com. The comment also said that the car was a Mustang, because of course it was, and it says that “there were lots of people that reported other missing persons linked to the Goatman’s bridge and the Goat man” with no additional detail. Apparently this commenter left a link a website, goatmansbridge.com which repeated the claim with no citation. (http://www.randomconnections.com/paranormal-activity/)
      • from his website: “November 15th 1967: police discover an abandoned car beside Old Alton Bridge, five miles south of Denton, Texas. A rash of mysterious disappearances are becoming alarmingly routine on a chilling stretch of road that is known by locals as “the Goatman’s bridge.””
      • https://web.archive.org/web/20100617152737/http://www.goatmansbridge.com/
    • Weirdly, November 15th 1967 is exactly 1 month before the Silver Bridge collapsed in Point Pleasant, West Virginia
    • If you’re interested in the moth man at all, you’re probably familiar with silver bridge collapse. But just in case you aren’t up to date with the moth man lore, basically from November 15, 1966 to December 15, 1967, there were a series of incidents that were said to involve the moth man. People saw the moth man around the area and it was said that he sort of presaged the collapse of the silver bridge on December 15, 1967, which is a really tragic incident where 46 people died.
    • So it’s just a strange, unlikely “coincidence” that there’s a connection between the dates of the moth man siding and this supposedly disappearance near the goat man’s bridge. And it’s not lost on me that there’s a connection between the two legends: both involve a animal man hybrid as well as a bridge. And both are popular urban legends, so if someone in 2010 wanted to make up this story, they probably were the type of person who was familiar with the moth man legend, so this might be a little Easter egg put in there.I was lucky enough to stumble upon a website called factschology.com, which had an article describing the deep dive that the podcast Myths, Mysteries, and Monsters went on to try to confirm this story. This person couldn’t find newspaper articles to back up the story, but found where the rumor seemed to have started online. Apparently, in 2010, there was a person who commented on a bunch of websites, basically anything that mentioned the bridge that year. The person said: “There have been several disappearances on and around Old Alton Bridge. Most notably, one that occurred November 15th 1967. The Denton newspaper at the time did an article on a car found abandoned on the bridge.” 
  • The video also links to the Association for the Study of Unexplained Phenomenon (ASUP) website (http://www.asup-inc.org/oldaltonbridgecase.htm); the original website is down, but you can still read it on the wayback machine. Notably, the article mentions neither Oscar Washburn nor a disappearance in 1967.
  • Also, I wanted to read this excerpt from the site: As most folk tales often do, the bridge takes on newer and more fanciful claims with every passing year. Some say that the bridge was once the site of an execution, another of a lynching; others say that an old goat herder was murdered on this spot, while still others believe it is the earthbound spirits of those killed in the Sam Bass – Texas Ranger’s shootout nearby. There are even claims of satanic devil worship being performed on the site, raising the specter of the devil himself on the bridge. https://web.archive.org/web/20100920155235/http://www.asup-inc.org/oldaltonbridgecase.htm
  • The site also tells this story about a possible historical Goat Man: “In some research we found that in the late 1800s there was a man that reportedly lived out near the bridge, who owned several goats. The residents of what are now the cities of Argyle and Denton thought the man to be a bit of a loner and rather odd, but no one really knew all that much about him. The legend goes that he had a wife, who died mysteriously and that one night a group of drunken cowboys found the old man out crossing the bridge, herding his goats and drove the animals off the bridge, killing them in the fall. Apparently, hearing about this, the County Sheriff went out to check on the man’s welfare, but found neither the man nor the goats, dead or alive. Shortly afterwards, so the stories go, a family was passing over the bridge at night and encountered the old man, or at least his apparition, standing in front of them, a goats head tucked under each arm. But all of this is Internet talk, without corroboration,” Blair explains. The Sheriff’s archives made no mention of the event.
    • Also, for the record, there have also been reports of the lynchings of white people in the area, so I have seems some older stories that seemed to claim that a white goatman had been lynched.
    • There have been four known lynching events of white people in Denton County since its founding, and the reason for white lynchings was typically horse theft. According to Micah Carlson Crittenden’s University of North Texas masters thesis published in May 2020, The Tall Grass West Of Town: Racial Violence In Denton County During The Rise Of The Second Ku Klux Klan: “Due to shifts in the public perception of white criminality and lynching as a violation of due process, white lynchings in Denton County stopped in 1880 and never resumed.”This meshes with some other older reports I found on the bridge, in which the goatman seems to be white (or at least his race isn’t mentioned).
  • There are also some other mentions of the bridge hauntings, which aren’t part of the popular legends now: Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on your point of view, the secondary visits have raised more questions than they might otherwise have answered, including additional photographic anomalies and cold spots on bright, sunny days where the physical environmental data would suggest it impossible. They have also recorded the sound of horses hooves crossing the bridge, when there were no horses present and one investigator, walking with her German shepherd dog, has seen a horseman, dressed in dark clothing, galloping toward them, then disappearing, without leaving tracks on the path. “Both the dog and I heard and saw him, but he disappeared as he made a turn under some bushes and didn’t emerge on the other side. The ground was damp and hoof prints should have been obvious, but I couldn’t find any!”
  • It’s fascinating to me that the video links to a paranormal investigation site that doesn’t really back up its claims.
  • Folks online have said that the video just added some additional background details to the existing legend. But it’s wild that those details have congealed into this almost monolithic urban legend nowadays.
    • Now, this person said that he didn’t upload the video. I have since been able to independently confirm that the youtube channel belongs to someone who he knew, but that it wasn’t him who uploaded the video. 
    • So, just to be clear: If you google this and find people mention the person who supposedly uploaded the video, that information is incorrect. For all I know, since they knew each other, they could have worked on the video together, but I don’t really have evidence of that so can’t and won’t speculate. Also, here’s a weird synchronicity. Some folks online have given a name for the person who supposedly uploaded this video. The name sounded familiar to me, so I texted one of two people who I went to high school with who I’m still in touch with. And sure enough, my friend was like, oh yeah, that person was my next-door neighbor when we were growing up, and we’re friends. It’s just a bizarre synchronicity, because I’m only still in touch with two people who I went to high school with, and both of them grew up on the same street as this person.

The rumor spreads

  • So, anyway, starting from this initial rumor that was immortalized in the form of a YouTube video, the new version of the legend started to spread widely. By August 27, 2008, a commentor on the website pbase.com mentioned Oscar Washburn and the specific date, November 15, 1967, that was mentioned in the YouTube video: https://www.pbase.com/image/80955292 
  • By 2009, people had posted the youtube video to the same forum thread that Leland had originally posted on a handful of times, and by the last page of the thread, people were mentioning Oscar Washburn by name

More videos

  • Now, I’m going to recap a bit of the story about the trickster elements that I originally told in the beginning of this series.
  • On March 4, 2022, a reddit user who I will call Bob (not his real name) posted 23 links to a video and/or a playlist containing a video that he claims contains the real story behind the Goatman’s Bridge.
  • Some of the posts he commented on were about the Old Alton Bridge, Texas Hauntings, or similar topics. Others were totally unrelated, and just seemed to have a keyword that made it come up in a search.
  • However, based on a reply that someone posted the next day, the video was deleted within 24 hours. His channel has also been deleted, and he hasn’t posted on reddit under that account since March 4. He’d had the account since 2018, but the only other visible thing that he’d posted was something on a World of Warcraft subreddit. Also on March 4, 2022, he got into a few arguments with people about metaphysical topics.
  • As far as I can tell, it seems like he made a youtube video about the Old Alton Bridge, wanted to drive traffic to it by posting on reddit, but then for some reason decided to delete it. The original video was called “The First Goatmans Bridge Video Ever Uploaded on Youtube – 2011 – YouTube.”
  • I tried to PM him on reddit on 4/4/22, but he doesn’t accept private messages. I chatted him instead. He never answered.
  • As of 8/6/22, he had deleted his account completely. He may have done that before 8/6, but that’s just when I noticed it, while finalizing the script for this episode.
  • Oh, also, when people delete their accounts on Reddit, their comments often still appear on the platform and it just says deleted under their username, but I was able to confirm that at least some of the comments that he had posted under his old username were also deleted. I had saved direct links as well as screen grabs of his comments, so I was able to test that and it said that the comments were deleted and then when I searched his user name, it said that his account had been deleted as well. I don’t know whether that has anything to do with my series here, since Bob had deleted his YouTube video impulsively as well, but if you’re listening to this, Bob, hello!
  • Anyway, what did Bob have to say about this legend? Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to watch the video that he posted, but I was able to read the video description on the Wayback Machine. And luckily for us, the video description was a wall of text almost 900 words long.
  • Here’s how the video description begins.

    This series is the true story of…how I became “The Goatman.” Old Alton Bridge aka “Goatman’s Bridge,'” is a now infamous old “haunted” bridge near Denton Texas. However, it wasn’t so well-known for a long time. For years, there was only 1 video on YouTube that even referenced this location or the local “Legend” until I started posting videos with my evidence of this mysterious place’s anomalies starting in 2011. From 2008 to mid 2011, when you searched for “Goatman’s Bridge” on here, only 1 result popped up and it was a video by -edit: leland- posted in 2008.

    • Then he talks about his videos that he posted in 2009:

    this was in 2011 and although Old Alton Bridge has had a reputation for decades locally as an old bridge near some scenic hiking trails that some locals claim to have heard “a noise” once in the 80s or 90s or saw “a weird light” in the woods once while fishing, it was just that a place on Old Alton Rd thousands drive by daily that you once actually could drive over. . . No “Goatman’s Bridge” legend ever existed or was ever mentioned in any of your Texas legend/myth or ghost story books (even those published as late as the early 2010s.)

  • I take issue with his claim that no legend at all existed, but I have been able to confirm that it seemed to be a much lesser known urban legend (for example, I lived there for years and had never heard of it), and the stories of hauntings seemed more scattershot.
  • If I can just summarize the research I did, which I talked about in ep 1 of this series:
  • the Old Alton Bridge and the Goatman weren’t mentioned in the older books that I have access to about the paranormal or urban legends in Texas: 
  • I have two books by folklorist J. Frank Dobie, Legends of Texas Volume II: Pirates’ Gold and Other Tales, and Tales of Old-Time Texas, and the only stories they have about the area are about Sam Bass. Dobie describes Sam Bass as a sort of Texan Robin Hood, an outlaw who was apparently well liked and spent some time in Denton County. However, no goatman.
  • Best Tales of Texas Ghosts by Docia Schultz Williams was published in 1998 and has plenty of stories of ghosts in the Dallas area, but no mention of Denton County or the Old Alton Bridge at all.
  • The Big Book of Texas Ghost Stories by Alan Brown, published in 2012, doesn’t mention the Old Alton Bridge.
  • Haunted Texas: Ghosts and Strange Phenomena of the Lone Star State by Alan Brown, published in 2008, has no mention of the Old Alton Bridge, even though it does mention another Denton haunting, the haunting of the University of North Texas’ Bruce Hall.
  • On the other hand, the book Haunted Plano, Texas by Mary Jacobs, which was published in 2018, has a whole section about the Old Alton Bridge, even though it isn’t in Plano. There is a Plano Goat Man legend dating to at least the 70s or 80s which she mentions in the book, but in the subsection about the Old Alton Bridge Goatman, there’s no date given for when that legend began.
  • So his story kinda checks out
  • To continue reading from the video description:

     Back to my video… This one here is the first of 2 videos that for several years, if you were to search Goatmans Bridge on Youtube , only 3 results appeared – -Leland-‘s, and the 2 you are about to watch in this series. This video  titled “Paranormal Activity at Goatmans Bridge” and its follow-up response – “Still Don’t Believe?” quickly went viral and became the top search results for the following couple years. . . .  My paranormal experiences became a local sensation in Denton, TX and remained the most viewed videos for awhile , even after others began to upload their own experiences. More articles and blogs were being published online about the legendary “Goatmans Bridge” and they all said the same copy/pasted “Legend” along with some other ones mentioning of it being “currently under surveillance by DAPS aka Denton Area Paranormal Society… (never heard of or saw them the 1000s of days and nights I would spend obsessing over this place, but ok… “DAPS”)

  • I obviously don’t know Bob, but from reading this, I get a bit of a sense of self importance from him.

  • I’ll keep reading:

Over the years it gained more notoriety as I began to uncover and post more of the mystery, opening thousands of peoples minds in person who came to visit and happened to stop to have a chat with “that ghost hunting guy and his beagle always at the bridge”. The first few years I spent out there it was mostly barren at night, void of all life or cars driving by or people coming to visit. This was completely opposite of what the area is like in the daytime. People DID trickle in most nights sporadically, ever few hours or so. They would pull into the parking lot, get out, turn on all the flashlights and slowly walk towards this bridge to “see what this was all about”. Most who were brave enough to even make the 30 second journey to the bridge, would stand on it (and im dead serious) for a minute or two and would immediately leave, not even bothering with the well-traversed-in-the-daytime hiking trail to either side along the river. If they did, they always lasted about 5 mins and get spooked, running back to their cars. 

I would spend countless hours there and watched all this happen every night from the bridge. Same types of people, same cliche expectations and same reactions to…nothing really. I would laugh and think to myself (Another one bites the dust I guess) Many times however, I would get lucky and not have a single other person come visit the bridge, OR even a car drive by for an entire night. It was just me, my equipment, my dog and the Spirits.. who grew more accustomed to my energy presence the longer I spent out there and got to know what this place was, how beautiful it truly was at night, when the rest of the world just came looking for a quick jump-scare or half-man half goat/ghostly headlights/knock 3 times to summon the demon/goat hooves sounds/shadow figure etc… (the “Legend” quickly began to spin and soon I would realize I set events in motion that nobody EVER could’ve expected…

  • Wow, what a cliffhanger! I bet you’re excited to find out what happened next!
  • Well, that’s it. Supposedly the video series was going to answer everything, but it never happened, and you can’t watch the video this description went with, since it was deleted the day after it was posted, having garnered 39 views when it was archived by the wayback machine.
  • Ironically, if you search Bob’s username on youtube, the cached metadata on Duckduckgo says “USERNAME is resurrected from the digital grave.” which is really ironic. I think he deleted it previously and then recreated it and then deleted it again.
  • But here’s what I can tell you: I just searched for him again and I have discovered that he made a Tiktok back in July and he’s posted two videos, both of which show a shirtless man wearing a cow mask and hanging out in the woods. Importantly, he has a tattoo on his belly button that looks a lot like the tattoo that Sully Erna, the lead singer of the nu metal band Godsmack has. So this is a person who perhaps at one point in his life felt very inspired by Godsmack, see you can just use that to paint a mental picture in your mind palace of what this person might be like. The tiktok account just has the two videos, and it has like five followers so you are missing anything there. And what you guess it, both videos were posted on July 17 and there have been no new videos since then, which seems to be a pattern for Bob.
  • Oh also, when I originally wrote a lot of this, Bob had deleted his YouTube channel, but as of today, August 6, 2022, he seems to have reactivated his YouTube channel. There is nothing on the channel. Nothing has been posted, there are no playlists, etc. All there is is one single piece of information on the about page which is that he joined YouTube on July 15, 2022. So what I see here, is someone who you know read joined YouTube and made his new Tiktok account within two days of each other and is done nothing with them since. Oh I guess there is one other thing about his YouTube channel, which is that he added a header that has a picture of a goat man. So who knows maybe this series will appear on his channel, I’ll try to keep an eye on it and I will update you if there is any movement there.
  • Other than that, Bob made a twitter account in June and he’s tweeted a lot about an invocation of Zalgo, which I guess is a creepypasta from 2004. He also mentioned the bridge in a handful of his tweets, but the tweets weren’t coherent enough for me to glean anything from or for them to be worth reading from here. Oh, also, it seemed like he tweeted a lot in early-to-mid June 2022 and hasn’t tweeted since, which also matches the pattern.

    • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zalgo_text
    • He did reply to a paranormal investigation show with:

“I used to be inspired by GAC and big fans of Sam and Colby among many others who are now just making this situation worse for those of us personally involved trying to fix it.This place was relatively unknown before I uploaded the first video about it 12 years ago on Youtube.” “Please, for the love of all things under the Sun. STOP..GOING…THERE..PEOPLE! I cannot fix what was done AGAIN. What we started 12 years ago has gotten out of control. All my old favorite TV/YouTube Ghost Hunters are falling victim to this energy vortex!!”

  • And, yeah, I mentioned this in the beginning, but I suspect that there’s some mental health stuff surrounding some of Bob’s posts and stuff.

  • Anyway, that’s what I’ve got for this time–the way that I’ve traced this story back as close to its source as I can, and the weird twists and turns the story has taken.

Sources consulted RE: Satanic Rituals at the Bridge (Goatman’s Bridge Series)

Visit the series page for additional sources.

Sources consulted for Satanic Rituals at the Bridge (Goatman’s Bridge Series)

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