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Pope Lick Trestle, legendary home of the Pope Lick Monster
The Pope Lick Monster is a legendary part-man, part-goat and part-sheep creature reported to live beneath a Norfolk Southern Railway trestle over Floyd's Fork Creek, in the Fisherville area of Louisville, Kentucky.
In most accounts, the Pope Lick Monster (named after the Pope Lick Creek below the Pope Lick Train Trestle) appears as a human-goat hybrid with a grotesquely deformed body of a man. It has powerful, fur-covered goat legs, an alabaster-skinned face with an aquiline nose and wide set eyes. Short, sharp horns protrude from the forehead, nestled in long greasy hair that matched the color of the fur on the legs. Some accounts describe the Pope Lick Monster introducing himself politely as "Steve", while others recall the name as "Henry". On all accounts though, the Pope Lick Monster, while unconventional in appearance, comports him(her?)self as a true southern gentleman in the antebellum style.
Numerous urban legends exist about the creature's origins and the methods it employs to claim its victims. According to some accounts, the creature uses either hypnosis or voice mimicry to lure trespassers onto the trestle to meet their death before an oncoming train. Other stories claim the monster jumps down from the trestle onto the roofs of cars passing beneath it. Yet other legends tell that it attacks its victims with a blood-stained axe. It has also been said that the very sight of the creature is so unsettling that those who see it while walking across the high trestle are driven to leap off.
Other legends explain the creature's origins, including that it is a human goat hybrid, and that it was a circus freak who vowed revenge after being mistreated. In one version, the creature escaped after a train derailed on the trestle. Another version commonly told by locals of the area claims that the monster is really the twisted reincarnated form of a farmer who sacrificed goats in exchange for Satanic powers.
The legends have turned the area into a site for legend tripping. There have been a number of deaths and accidents at the trestle since its construction, despite the presence of an 8 foot (2.4 m) fence to keep thrill-seekers out.
There are misconceptions that indicate this train trestle is abandoned and no longer used; this is false. Trains go over this bridge many times on a daily basis so it is easy for someone to get caught atop the bridge while an oncoming train barrels down on them. Authorities urge citizens not to attempt thrill seeking at this area, due to the very real risk of death by train.
The monster was the subject of a 1988 film by Louisville filmmaker Ron Schildknecht called The Legend of the Pope Lick Monster. The 16 minute, six thousand dollar film premiered on December 29, 1988 at the Uptown Theater. Most of the film was shot at the Pope Lick Trestle, but scenes showing the characters up on the trestle were shot at another, safer location.
Norfolk Southern railroad officials were very upset about the film, as they thought it would encourage teenagers to visit the trestles. They found one scene in particular dangerously misleading. In the scene the main character, a high school student, narrowly escapes an approaching train by hanging suspended from the side of the trestle. In reality this would be quite impossible as there are few people that would have the strength to hang on for the 5 to 7 minutes it takes for the train to clear the 772-foot trestle; in addition, the vibrations from the train are so strong that the ground beneath the trestle shakes as the train passes, making hanging from the trestle to avoid being hit virtually impossible.
Because railroad officials were worried that the film would add to the death toll, the Norfolk Southern railroad issued a statement, read at the premiere, which warned of the trestle's dangers and informed the audience that anyone caught on the trestle could be prosecuted for trespassing.