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I just read “The Legend of Goatman” in the Sept. 18 edition of Washington City Paper. First of all, I’d like to tell you how much I enjoyed it. Reading that article took me back to my own high school days.

The reason I am writing to you, however, is because your article reminded me of a very similar urban legend in the Baltimore area. You have probably heard this before, but I’d like to pass it along to you just in case you have not:

When I was a high school student in Baltimore County (in the late 1980s), one of the most popular things to do on a Friday night was to drive around the creepy, dark, wooded, moonlit Loch Raven Reservoir. That was where the Goatman was said to live. According to the legend, if you stopped your car on Warren Bridge, turned off the engine and the headlights, got out of the car, and shouted “Goatman” three times, he would climb up from underneath the bridge and attempt to mutilate you and throw you into the lake.

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One time, on a foggy night, one of my friends dared me to get out of the car on Warren Bridge. He drove to the other side of the bridge and turned off the engine and the headlights, leaving me alone in the moonlight. I was supposed to call the Goatman three times and then run to the car. Beneath me, I could hear the cold black water of Loch Raven lapping against the pylons of the bridge. Shivering a little bit, I shouted the name into the emptiness of the night. “Goatman!!!” Did something shift its position underneath the bridge? I always had an overactive imagination. I was sure that it was nothing. With this rationalization, my pulse began to return to normal, so I shouted a second time. “GOATMAN!!!”

The air seemed to get a little colder. I could feel the hair on the back of my neck begin to rise. Through the fog, I could just make out the shape of the car where my friend was waiting with his mouth agape. My pulse was racing again. My palms became sweaty. If I could pull this off, I knew I’d be a hero at school on Monday. In the distance, I saw a truck rounding the bend, about to cross the bridge. Its headlights seemed ethereal in the rolling fog. That gave me some courage. Surely the Goatman wouldn’t attack me as a truck was crossing the bridge. After all, according to the “terms” of the legend, you had to turn off your headlights for him to come. Before I could change my mind, I shouted it again. “GOATMAAAAANNN!!!!”

Without waiting to see what would happen next, I sprinted faster than I had ever sprinted before back to the safety of the car. My friend was pointing in my direction and shouting excitedly, and I felt as if I was in one of those nightmares in which you’re running from something but you’re not getting anywhere. The truck sped past me just before I made it to the end of the bridge. The driver honked his horn at me and nearly startled me out of my skin.

As soon as I leaped into the car, my friend drove away. He asked me if I had seen it. I didn’t know what he was talking about. He told me that someone was limping behind me as I ran toward the car. Apparently, the creature was just over 6 feet tall and had a long white beard. He said that it was carrying a long stick, like a shepherd’s crook or a staff, and it was very old and skinny.

Was he making this up just to scare me? Were his eyes playing tricks on him because of the fog and the moonlight? I hope so! The fact is, I saw nothing that night except the truck, and I am glad about that. I kept trying to get him to admit that he didn’t see anything—to admit that he was just trying to scare me—but he would do no such thing. He was quite insistent about what he thought he saw. To this day, I am convinced that it was just a prank, but I’ll never forget the rush of adrenaline that I felt.

As we asked other people about the Goatman legend, we learned something interesting. Loch Raven Reservoir was formed by flooding a town called Warren. In fact, sometimes during periods of drought, you can see the steeple of the old Warren Church sticking up above the water’s surface. Legend has it that although the town was evacuated before it was flooded, a homeless shepherd (who had been sleeping in a shack) was not informed. When the town was flooded, he drowned in his sleep. That is why he is called the Goatman (because he was a shepherd), and that is (according to the legend) also why he haunts the Warren Bridge and throws his victims into the lake.

Just wanted to share that with you. Thanks for the article. I loved it!

Silver Spring, Md.

via the Internet