AC asks: “I just heard about the 26 year-old woman who was killed on train tracks that are supposedly haunted by the Pope Lick Monster who lures people to their deaths. What is this about?”
The Pope Lick Monster is a legend peculiar to the Louisville, Kentucky area. It is associated with a train trestle near Pope Lick Creek that is supposedly haunted by a “goat-man” known as the Pope Lick Monster. Although no one has ever seen it (except in their nightmares), it is described as having the body of a man and the lower torso of a goat or sheep. It also supposedly has short horns protruding from its forehead.
Differing reports say the goat-man either uses hypnosis or some sort of “siren voice” to lure people onto the trestle where they are run down by passing locomotives. Other stories say the monster drops down onto cars passing beneath the trestle.
How the monster got there is the most colorful part of the legend.
Some say he was the offspring of a farmer who mated with his animals.
Another story says the monster was once a farmer who worshiped Satan and sacrificed his goats for power. When he was close to death, he swore that he would live again, and was then resurrected as a half-man, half-goat who was doomed to walk the trestle forever.
Others say the monster is actually an old chemist who became a recluse after a chemical explosion in his laboratory left him disfigured.
The final version of the story has the monster being part of a circus show who was freed from his keepers when lightening struck the train and caused it to derail, killing everyone on board except the monster.
As fanciful as it all sounds, this is precisely the kind of “ghost story” that teens love – and that has led to several tragic deaths over the years.
Jack Charles Bahm II, 17, was killed in 1987 while walking on the trestle.
David Wayne Bryant, 19, died in May of the same year from injuries he sustained a year earlier when he jumped off the trestle to avoid being hit by a train.
Nicholas Jewell, 19, died in November 2000 after falling from the trestle. The four friends who were with him at the time say he was engaging in the usual teenage challenge of trying to run across the trestle and make it to the other side before the train approached. Jewell is said to have been only half way across the tracks when a freight train approached. He tried to move to the side and hold onto a railroad tie but the vibration of the train shook him off and sent him tumbling more than 80 feet to his death.
The latest victim was a 26 year-old tourist named Roquel Bain of Dayton, Ohio, who was visiting Louisville with her boyfriend when they heard about the legendary Pope Lick Monster. The couple decided to walk on the trestle and were surprised by a train. Realizing that they could not reach the other side of the trestle in time, they decided to hang off the side of the structure. Bain didn’t reach the side fast enough and was struck by the train, then fell to the road below. A coroner’s report revealed that she died of multiple blunt force injuries.
Although the Pope Lick Monster is nothing more than an urban legend, it’s deadly tale has caused many locals to believe the trestle is haunted (either by the fictitious monster or by the people who died looking for it).
Local ghostbuster groups offer guided tours and paranormal investigators have been known to visit the area to determine if there is any paranormal activity at the site.