The Old Alton Bridge, in the Texan town of Denton - which is about an hour's drive from where I live - has a very strange legend attached to it.
It concerns nothing less than a monstrous Goat-Man, of the type that have been reported from a whole variety of other locations across the U.S.
Probably the most infamous of all Goat-Men is that which allegedly surfaced in and around Lake Worth, Texas in 1969. But, what of its nearby cousin in Denton?
Well, on several occasions now I've been to the bridge that the Goat-Man is said to haunt - and that's it in the photo above.
The tale is known all across town, too, unsurprisingly. For example, on my second trip there in 2009, I parked my car on the open piece of land next to the bridge - where a cop was also parked, munching on his lunch.
I knew he was watching me, as I got my digital camera and camcorder off the back-seat, and he shouted something like: "Hey, what are you doing?"
I replied: "Looking for the Goat-Man."
His brief response was along the lines of: "Okay, well good luck!
As for the stories, one legend says that, many years ago, wannabe devil-worshippers in the area inadvertently opened up a portal to some hellish realm that allowed the vile beast open access to our world.
And now, today, and as a direct result of this reckless action, the Goat Man has no intention at all of returning to the twilight zone from which he appeared; hence his deep desire to forever haunt the old steel-and-wood bridge at Denton.
An even weirder story maintains that the Denton Goat Man’s origins can be traced back to a resident of the town who, decades ago, slaughtered his entire family, and was quickly hanged as a punishment for his terrible crime.
As the local legend tells it, at the moment he was hung, the man’s head was torn from his body by the weight of his blubbery form; and, for months afterwards, his spectral body returned to the world of the living with only one goal in mind: to find itself a brand new head – which it supposedly did by wrenching off the head of an innocent goat that had the great misfortune to be in the area at the time.
And so, the Goat Man of Denton was born. Was this merely a tall tale? Of course, it was!
But that does not take away the fact that local folk, on many occasions, have reported seeing the nightmarish, hoofed one roaming around the woods behind the bridge.
In other words, whatever the real origins of Denton’s Goat Man, there does appear to be a significant amount of substance to what many merely perceive as an entertaining piece of local hokum.
Bridges, as anyone with even a basic knowledge of Forteana will know, have been linked with paranormal phenomena for years. There's the Man-Monkey of England's Shropshire Union Canal, which I have written about at this blog already.
And, of course, there is Mothman and the tragic events of December 1967, involving the huge Silver Bridge at Point Pleasant, West Virginia that collapsed into the Ohio River, drowning dozens.
Is it simply coincidence that bridges and bizarre entities go together hand-in-glove style? Maybe not.
In her 2006 book, Mystery Big Cats, author Merrily Harpur writes of mysterious locales that she calls Liminal Zones: “These are the transitional zones between one area and another – the kind of no-man’s-land traditionally regarded as magical.”
Harpur notes that such zones include streams, gates, churchyards and...bridges.
Coincidence or portals to other realms? Whatever the answer, take care next time you cross an old, mysterious bridge. You never know what might be lurking around...