The Bluegrass State is filled with twisted tales and mysterious phenomenon that might just send shivers down your spine.
As Halloween draws near, tales of unexplained encounters, sinister creatures and unsolved mysteries become even more intriguing. Kentucky has a deep history of unexplainable phenomena and restless spirits, and we love to recount these tales whenever an occasion arises.
Here are four of our favorites:
Goatman: The legend of the Pope Lick monster
The Pope Lick monster, or Goatman, has been the focus of lore for decades. Legend has it that a half-man, half-goat resides under a train trestle that spans Pope Lick Creek in Louisville. Like the trolls in old fairy tales, he doesn’t like people crossing his bridge. Some say this fellow was born deformed and then abandoned. Some say he isn’t a man at all, but a demon.
Many an adventure seeker has wandered onto or under the old trestle in search of this frightening entity. Strange noises have been reported and accidents have happened. Some have even tragically led to death, as was the case this past April when a women fell to her death from the old trestle. The area is fenced off and clearly marked as “no trespassing.”
Buried alive: The double death of Octavia Smith Hatcher
James Hatcher was a happily married, wealthy gent who lived in Pikeville Kentucky. He was involved in timber, coal mining and owned the first hotel in the community. Hatcher wed local lovely Octavia Smith in 1889, and she bore him one son. Unfortunately, the 1890s had a relatively high infant mortality rate. Also, many of the diseases for which we now have vaccines, like measles and small pox, were deadly. Octavia and James’ son fell gravely ill not long after birth and the small child died in January of 1891.
The death of her son put Octavia into a deep, dark depression and she fell physically ill. She eventually slipped into a coma and, on May 2nd, 1891, the new bride was pronounced dead. James was devastated, and he buried his bride.
Soon thereafter, others in the town suffered the same mysterious illness. These recent sufferers woke back up, however. This gave James hope and he quickly organized an exhumation of Octavia’s coffin. Sadly, he was too late and his bride was truly dead this time — although it was obvious from the scratching and clawing at the coffin lid that she’d awoken to the terror of being buried alive. It’s said she had a look of absolute terror on her face, as if she had been frozen in fear. James Hatcher had to mourn, and bury, his bride twice.
A twisted tale: The witches’ tree of Old Louisville
Old Louisville is the largest, most well-preserved Victorian community in the world. It also has a long, dark history of hauntings and strange happenings. During the late 1800s, for example, it was widely known that a coven of witches had a favorite maple tree near the corner of 6th Street and Park where they’d gather to perform ceremonies and pay homage to their nature gods. In 1889, lore has it that a local planning committee decided to cut down the tree for a May Day pole. The witches were warned of the plans and confronted the committee, but the business folks would not back down and cut down the tree anyway.
As you can imagine, this didn’t bode well with the witches. Legend says that they cast a special curse in retaliation. Eleven months later, on March 27th, 1890, Louisville was hit with one of the most severe storms in its history. Many believed the witches had called forth a Storm Demon, which brought with it thunder, lightning and devastating tornados. Witnesses say lightning struck the spot where the maple tree once grew and, not long after, another tree started growing in its place.
A misshapen, lumpy, bumpy, deformed tree still stands close to 6th and Park. Pentagrams, crosses, dolls and other tokens and blessings hang from its branches. Items are placed there in some cases to honor the witches, and in others too ward them off. Local witches are still said to frequent the area, and Old Louisville is also said to be among the most haunted neighborhoods in the country. Of course the Witch Tree is one of the favorite stops on area ghost tours.
Close encounters: Hopkinsville’s little green men
The mystery of the little green men in Kentucky has been given several different names. It was called the Kelly green man case, and also the mystery of the Kentucky goblins. It took place in 1955 just outside Hopkinsville, within the borders of Christian County. UFO enthusiasts have deemed it one of the most well-documented cases in the realm of unidentified, unexplainable incidents.
Five adults and seven children made their way to the police station on August 21, 1955, to report the encounter. Elmer “Lucky” Sutton and Billy Ray Taylor both claimed to have fought off these unknown beings with gunfire. The police investigated, finding evidence of lots of gunfire, but no goblins. The residents and visitors swore to their existence and were terrified. Even military police came out to observe the “crime” scene. Neighbors also reported strange lights and sounds, although the official explanation was attributed to owls. Every August, Hopkinsville celebrates the incident with its “Little Green Men Days Festival.”