The Pope Lick monster inhabits an area of Kentucky known for its mineral licks – where animals go to get minerals. And Pope was a popular surname in the area back in the day.
But who, or what, is the Pope Lick Monster?
We dug into the monster’s history to tell you the whole story.
Let’s get started!
What is the Pope Lick Monster?
The Pope Lick Monster legend might be one of the creepiest tales of Kentucky. According to urban legend, there’s a monster that haunts one of the oldest railroad trestles around. Located east of Interstate 265 in Louisville, many people have died or come close to it on this bridge.
Part man, part goat, and part sheep, the Pope Lick Monster is said to lure his victims to the bridge. Rumor has it he lives under it, using hypnotic trance to attract folks his way. When approaching the trestle, you may hear a strange, unfamiliar sound. Next thing you know, you’re on top of this 700-foot train track, almost 100 feet above the ground.
This hairy-legged, horned half-man appears out of nowhere and spook you to jump to your death!
Some say the Pope Lick Monster was a teased circus freak who vowed everlasting revenge against humankind. Others say he is a farmer who made a pact with the devil. Either way, the legends always describe him as disturbingly menacing.
Pro Tip: While in Kentucky make sure to Visit The Spooky Grave of Octavia Hatcher.
What is an Urban Legend?
An urban legend is a modern-day term for a folktale. Typically, urban legends have a spooky, campy angle. Passed on by word of mouth, the creators intend to create intrigue and fear around a person, place, or thing. The stories are rumored to be true but are, in fact, false!
People called these legends myths, folk tales, or ghost stories in the old days.
The term urban legend started appearing in print during the 60s and grew in popularity in the mid-80s. Not surprisingly, the internet only furthered the spread of Urban myths. For example, you may have heard of Slender Man. This enduring urban legend about a creepy guy that terrorizes kids at night was born from a 2009 internet forum meme!
About the Pope Lick Trestle
Engineers built this still-active train track in the late 1800s for freight passage in Pope Lick Park, Louisville. It stands approximately 90 feet tall and 772 feet long. A lush canopy of trees surrounds the area, with plenty of marked trails to explore. On the ground – not on the train trestle!
Since rust covers the trestle’s steel beams, many folks assume the Pope Lick train trains are out of service. But in fact, trains pass through several times a day.
Pope Lick trestle is on private property owned by The Parklands of Floyds Fork. No trespassing allowed! That said, the parklands offer guided haunted hike tours of the area. The peak season is around Halloween.
Is the Pope Lick Monster Dangerous?
Yes. Seriously yes. Although the actual manifestation of the Pope Lick Monster may or may not exist, the hunt for him can be deadly.
The main reason is that, as mentioned above, the Pope Lick train trestle is still in service. Trains cross that bridge; if you’re on it, there’s no way out! There’s a big myth circulating on the internet that if you hear the train horn, you can run off the train in time to avoid injury. But that, unfortunately, is just not always true.
A train struck two teenage girls crossing the trestle bridge in 2019. Only one survived. Another duo, a couple looking to explore the Pope Lick legend, experienced the same fate in 2016. In this case, memories and regret torture the surviving boyfriend.
Countless examples date back to the 80s when locals would go to the bridge to hunt birds. Norfolk Southern Railway officials have fenced off the area and surrounded the bridge with no trespassing signs. Unfortunately, some people still won’t heed warnings.
Pro Tip: Give yourself a scare by listening to these 7 Spooky Campfire Podcasts for Your Next RV Trip.
Is There a Movie or TV Show About the Pope Lick Monster?
Independent filmmaker Ron Schildknecht’s 1988 short film entitled The Legend of the Pope Lick Monster is a narrative tale about the monster. Shot in black and white, the movie tells the story of three bored teenagers looking for a thrill. They hunt for the Pope Lick monster and become terrified when they find him.
Local railway officials were so upset by the film that they ordered producers to include a warning: Anyone found trespassing will be prosecuted! They didn’t want viewers to think they could dodge an approaching train.
Other docu-style shorts about The Pope Lick Monster appear in series such as Monsters and Mysteries in America.
Is the Pope Lick Monster the Only Urban Legend in Kentucky?
Hardly! The Pope Lick Monster is only one of many Kentucky urban legends. The state is rife with mystery, with plenty of woods to get lost in and old train tracks to stumble upon.
Take s stroll into the Pilot Knob cemetery in Marion, Kentucky, and you may run into a six-year-old ghost and her despondent mother. And if you’re in Louisville, beware of the headless woman who haunts Iroquois Park. Or how about the little green men of Hopkinsville?
Oh, and let’s not start about Sleepy Hollow Road just off Interstate 71. Covered by a canopy of trees, this creepy stretch of concrete is rumored to be the most haunted road around. And, whether a ghost hearse starts following you or you hear scary sounds crossing Cry Baby Bridge, the ghost hunter in you’ll be either thrilled or terrified. Or both.
Be More Afraid of Trespassing Than of the Pope Lick Monster
The Pope Lick monster is a legendary tale of a strange creature living by an old Kentucky bridge. But does he really exist? Or did he ever? We’ve barely scratched the surface regarding the origins of the urban legend. There are plenty more myths found online.
It may be that the Pope Lick monster myth was born to keep people away from the trestle. It’s far too dangerous to cross. Many have tried and failed. Even worse, this legend that may have been born to keep people safe has actually caused thrill seekers to trespass. And we already know the results.
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