and Goatman’s Bridge
About 3 ½ miles from the present day town of
Corinth, in Denton County, Texas ,
once stood the small village of Alton, which, for a decade, served as the
Denton County seat. When Denton County was formed in 1846, the first
pioneers chose a place along Pecan Creek for the first county seat and
named it Pinckneyville, in honor of Texas '
first governor, James Pinckney Henderson.
But, Pinckneyville would hold the title only
two years and never develop into a town. Water shortages forced the county
seat to move to a new site in June, 1848. Located less than a mile from
present day Corinth, on a high ridge between Pecan Creek and Hickory
Creek, the new townsite was called Alton.
Alton Bridge, courtesy
Though Commissioners were appointed and directed to lay
out a town and sell lots, there are no records that this was ever done and no
public buildings were ever erected. In fact, the only residence that existed was
that of a man named W.C. Baines, who established a farmstead long before the
designation of the new county seat.
County business was held at the Baines’ residence,
most of the time, under the shade trees in his yard. The location of the second
county seat also proved to be unfavorable due to a lack of potable water and the
state legislature soon directed that the site be moved again.
The third county seat location was designated in
November, 1850, about five miles southwest of present day Corinth on Hickory
Creek. The new site retained the name of Alton and submitted an application for
a post office. This location did grow and before long it boasted a hotel and two
By 1856, the small town boasted a number of homes, a
blacksmith shop, three stores, a school, saloon, hotel, two doctors, and several
lawyers. The Hickory Creek Baptist Church, which continues to stand, was
organized in 1855.
Though the fledgling town had begun to grow, the
location of the county seat was still unsatisfactory for the majority of Denton
County residents, who soon petitioned for yet, another county seat – one that
was more centrally located and again, one with better water. Put to a vote in
November, 1856, the county seat was moved again to Denton. Lots for the townsite
began to be auctioned in January, 1857.
In the meantime, Alton began to die as many of its
businesses moved to the new county seat. In May, 1859, its post office doors
There is little remaining of the old townsite today,
with the exception of the Hickory Creek Baptist Church and the old Alton
Cemetery, which contains graves that date back to 1852.
church is located at 5724 Teasley Lane ( F.M.
Road 2181) ,
Denton, Texas .
Next to the church is the cemetery.
later, in 1884, long after Alton had died,
>an iron through-truss bridge
built over Hickory Creek on Copper
Canyon Road, south of the old townsite. Built by the King Bridge Company of
Cleveland, Ohio, the 145 foot long bridge would serve area travelers for more
than a century. Called the Old Alton Bridge, sometimes the Argyle bridge,
is better known amongst the locals as "Goatman's Bridge,” it was first built to
carry horses, but would later carry vehicles across the creek.
Alton Bridge sign
It continued to be used until about 2001 when it was
replaced with a concrete-and-steel bridge and a new road, which straightened out
a sharp curve. Before the new bridge was built, motorists were required to honk
their horns on the one lane bridge to let other travelers know they were coming.
The bridge was listed on the National Register of
Historic Places in July, 1988 and closed to vehicle traffic in 2001. It is open
only to pedestrians today.
Not only is the Old Alton Bridge a picturesque
historic site, it is also said to be haunted by the “Goatman,” hence the
nickname of the bridge.
Half a century after the bridge was built, an
African-American man named Oscar Washburn, settled with his family near
the bridge. Earning his living raising goats, he was soon called the
“Goatman” by the locals. An honest businessman, his goat raising business
was a success. Unfortunately; there were those who did not welcome a
successful black man within their midst.
When Washburn posted a sign on the bridge that
advertised “this way to the Goatman,” it angered local
Klansman. On a dark night in August, 1938, these hateful men crossed the
bridge without their headlights, then, burst into Washburn’s home and drug
him from his family to the bridge.
The Klansman then fitted a noose over his head
and pushed him over the side of the bridge. However, when they looked over
to make sure he was dead, they could see only the rope. Washburn was gone
and was never seen again. The hateful Klansman then went back to his home
and killed the rest of his family.
Ever since that fateful day, a number of
strange things have reportedly occurred on and around the bridge. Many
believe that the Goatman haunts the overpass and the nearby woods. The
tale continues that when travelers crossed the bridge at night with their
headlights off, they would meet the Goatman on the other side. These tales
are obviously old, as the bridge has been closed to vehicle traffic since
A number of other reports tell of numerous
abandoned cars that have been found near the bridge, with their occupants
Others report seeing a ghostly man herding
goats over the bridge, while others say they have seen an apparition
staring at them, holding a goat head under each arm. Stranger stories even
include people having seen a creature that resembles a half-goat,
More tales of strange noises have also been
described including the sounds of horses’ hoof beats on the bridge,
splashing in the creek below, maniacal laughter, and inhuman like growling
coming from the surrounding woods.
Visitors sometimes tell of seeing mysterious
lights in the area, of car doors locking and unlocking of their own accord, a numerous
vehicle breakdowns while near the old viaduct.
According to legend, if you visit on Halloween
and honk your car horn twice, visitors can see Goatman's glowing eyes.
And, the Goatman is evidently not alone. Other
reports tell of a woman’s spirit who wanders the area allegedly in search
of her lost baby. Maybe that spirit is that of
La Llorona, who is well known as haunting
the rivers of the Southwest.
The bridge is located about seven miles south
of Denton. Take I-35E S/US-77 S to exit 463 and merge into
the I-35 Frontage Rd. Turn right at Lillian Miller Pkwy and go 0.8 miles,
where the road becomes Farm to Market Rd 2181/Teasley Ln, continue 3.2
miles and turn right at Old Alton Rd.
of America, updated October, 2012.
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