Forgotten History - The Alton “Goatman” Bridge
PHOTO GALLERY - Click on photos to enlarge
Old Alton (Goatman) Bridge, Denton Texas
Built in 1882, the Alton Bridge is a iron truss bridge that connects Denton Texas and the nearby area known as Copper Canyon and crosses over Hickory Creek. It was named after a abandoned community known as Alton and was during the 1850s/1960s the central community of Denton County.
Originally used for horse drawn carriages as well as a crossing for cattle drives, it was used for automobile traffic until as recently as 2001, when a newer bridge was constructed nearby. Today it is a foot-traffic only bridge.
A local legend has it that in the 1930s a black goat-farmer named Oscar Washburn and his family lived in a residence a short distance north of the bridge. A dependable and honest businessman, the locals nick-named him “The Goatman” and Washburn at one point hung a hand-painted sign on the bridge saying: “THIS WAY TO THE GOATMAN”
The local members of the Ku Klux Klan took offense to this and late one night in August of 1938 a caravan of Klansmen drove to Washburn's farm, kidnapped him and allegedly hung him by the neck from a noose attached to the steel beams of the Alton bridge and when they peered over the side saw the end of the rope broken off and dangling below the bridge sans Oscar Washburn. In frustration they drove back to Washburn's farm, abducted the rest of his family and murdered them as well.
In the years since many stories have circulated amongst the local population about strange things happening in the vicinity of the Alton Bridge. Tales of lights bobbing in the nearby woods, translucent figures seen walking on the bridge, abandoned cars and missing persons and rumored Satanic rituals being conducted there at night. Paranormal investigators flock to this area at Halloween, hoping to find evidence and many of them report being grabbed or touched by unseen hands.
We drove there recently (during the daytime) and the two of us (and our dog) walked across the bridge snapping photos as we crossed the bridge. We didn't see or hear anything ourselves but something odd did happen. We have a small “tea-cup” chihuahua who likes me to carry her on my shoulders, something she's done since she was a small puppy. I had a leash connected to her collar and the other end wrapped around my wrist. At one point as we strolled across the bridge, something spooked her. Without warning she suddenly did a swan-dive from my shoulders and for a terrifying split-second she was dangling by her neck on the end of the leash until I let go of the leash. She wasn't harmed and ran away from me and over to my wife, who scooped her up and held her in her arms.
She's almost two years old and has leaped from my shoulders a couple of other times in the past but 99% of the time she stays put on my shoulders and hangs on for dear life. So what happened?
Did she hear or see something we didn't or couldn't? Did the other-worldly spirit of the “goatman” grab or touch her from behind?
I don't know but if we ever visit the Alton bridge again, we're not going there at night! And we're sure not taking the dog!
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