Wisconsin is home to many monsters and cryptids, from wendigo to werewolves (the legendary Beast of Bray Road) a variety of serpentine and tentacled lake monsters, a bearwolf and a man-bat. A winged demon or mothman creature even showed up at the State Fair one year.
But none are quite as fearsome as the Goatman.
Wisconsin legends tell of a sinister half man, half goat creature that stalks the woods and back roads of the Kettle Moraine State Forest, searching for his next victim. He has a bad temper, a worse odor, and unlike most legends, people have actually encountered Goatman in recent years.
According to author J. Nathan Couch in his book Goatman: Flesh or Folklore? local legends suggest the Goatman lurks down numerous back roads across Wisconsin. He can be found along Marsh Road in Weyauwega, for example, where he brutally killed two teens on a “make-out couch” in the woods. Or in rural Ozaukee County areas such as Newburg, and Grady Park in Saukville. He also stalks the thickly forested area around Auburn Lake in Fond du Lac County.
Two of the most fascinating Goatman stories come from Washington County, where two roads have vastly different but equally horrifying legends – South Mill Road, or “Goatman’s Road,” in Kewaskum, and the dreaded Hogsback Road.
If you’re hoping to have your own run-in with is nightmarish beast, you’re in luck because we’re taking a drive into Goatman country to examine these bizarre legends. Let’s go!
Goatman’s Road – Kewaskum
Just outside of Kewaskum is the mostly unpaved South Mill Road that leads from Highway 28 through the woods to a dead end in the Milwaukee River Floodplain Forest State Natural Area. The dirt road itself can be a challenge to navigate, especially after rainfall, and the mosquitos are practically prehistoric in their size and appetite. But if the bloodsucking beasts and the potholes don’t get you, you may still have to contend with Goatman.
There’s said to be an abandoned house in the woods here where the Goatman once lived. He’s said to have been a violent alcoholic, who beat his wife to death one night. Afterward, he went out to beat his goats, as well, but one of them managed to mortally wound him with its horns and he bled out.
“Too terrible to remain dead,” Couch writes, “he once again stalks the woods as a violent goatlike abomination.”
In the fall of 2003, hunter Jason Miller had a shocking personal encounter with the creature in these woods that he recounted to Couch.
It was bow hunting season. Miller was in his tree stand waiting for a trophy buck. But instead of a deer, an angry, foul-smelling Goatman wandered into the clearing. He described it as the size of a deer, tan and gray in color. It had the body of a goat with a human head and arms, and a long white beard. It was swearing and complaining of a trespasser.
Miller waited silently until it wandered off, then climbed out of the tree and quickly left, fearful to ever return to the area.
Hogsback Road – Richfield
The land all around Holy Hill is haunted and full of terrors. One deadly, winding road nearby is a testament to that.
The Goatman of Hogsback Road is said to dart out in front of unsuspecting travelers, causing them to veer of the sharply curving road and plummet off the steep edge into the countryside below so he can drag them off for an easy kill. They say the woods used to be littered with the rusting husks of these wrecks, their occupants never found.
According to some, Goatman even had a ramshackle house on Hogsback Road.
This Goatman legend goes all the way back to the 1870s. The story tells of a young newlywed couple traveling down the road at night to reach their new home, when one of their wagon wheels broke. The man told his wife to wait in the wagon while he ran back to town to get help.
The wife waited, and waited, and waited. Eventually she heard rustling outside the wagon and peered out, hoping to see her husband had returned. Instead, she saw a hairy beast in the moonlight, standing upright on two legs, with the horns and long muzzle of a goat. She screamed and cowered in the wagon until morning.
Her husband still had not returned. She emerged in the daylight and began searching for him.
“There, at the edge of the forest, the ground around a large oak tree was drenched in blood,” Couch writes. “She looked up to find the mutilated remains of the man she’s just married dangling from a gnarled limb.”
That old oak was said to have remained for decades after. It became known as “the hanging tree.” Local boys would bring unsuspecting dates there for a scare. Some would hang dummies from the tree with a noose.
“One Hartford woman informed that effigy hangings at the tree became a Halloween tradition,” Couch says. “Others recalled how the tree became covered in crudely spray-painted pentagrams by the 1980s, implying the Goatman may have taken on satanic connotations in some some circles.”
The tree was eventually cut down to put an end to it.
But that doesn’t mean Goatman isn’t still hanging around Hogsback Road waiting to bring the next unsuspecting traveler to their grisly fate.
Explore more Goatman legends in Wisconsin and around the country! Grab a copy of Goatman: Flesh or Folklore? by Wisconsin author J. Nathan Couch right here.
Have you heard other Wisconsin Goatman legends or had an experience yourself? Tell us about it in the comments below!