As I’ve mentioned before, the United States is blessed with an abundance of half-human, half-animal monsters. If you travel to the Midwest you’ll encounter dogmen, the Lizard Man lurks in South Carolina, and the Bunny Man haunts parts of Virginia.
Here in New England we of course have the Pigman of Northfield, Vermont, but I recently read about a goat man who was seen in Cherryfield, Maine. Very exciting!
The story goes something like this. Back in the 1950s a Cherryfield man was driving his truck through the woods outside town. He was a local and had spent most of his time hunting, fishing, and logging in the forests of Maine. Those decades of experience didn’t prepare him for what he encountered that day.
He had filled up his gas tank before he left home that day, so he was very surprised when his truck came to a gradual stop on a lonely road. His gas gauge read empty.
He got out and checked the tank. It indeed was empty. He checked the bottom of the truck but couldn’t see a leak, and he didn’t see any sign of gas dripping on the road. He was annoyed and puzzled, but when he got out from beneath those truck those emotions turned to surprise – and maybe a little terror.
Standing in the middle of the road was a man who was half-human and half-goat. His lower body and legs were naked, hairy and shaped like a goat’s, while his torso was human-shaped and covered in a flannel shirt. Goat horns grew out of his head and his ears were pointed like an animal’s. Other than the flannel shirt, the goatman looked like a mythological satyr or the Greek god Pan.
The half-naked goatman smiled at the Cherryfield man, and then slowly sauntered into the woods. The man got back into his truck and locked the door. He tried to start the truck, hoping desperately that he could drive home just on fumes, and to his surprise the engine started. His gas gauge now read full. He drove home without incident and never saw the goatman again.
There are a lot of interesting things about this story. First, I’m excited to have a goatman seen in New England. Goatmen have been seen in other parts of the nation, including Maryland, Kentucky, and Texas. Apparently a goatman has also been seen in Williamstown, MA but I don’t have any more information on those sightings.
Second, I think the empty gas tank is pretty interesting. I was reminded of a lot of alien abduction and UFO sighting stories I’ve read. Someone is driving down an isolated road, their car mysteriously stops, they see a strange light or strange creatures, and then their car works again and they drive home. This story follows a similar pattern. In all these stories the forces from the other world disrupt our technology (and maybe our technological worldview) in order to make themselves known to us.
Finally, I think the flannel shirt is interesting. Obviously the story happened in chilly Maine and not the sunny Mediterranean so of course the goatman would be wearing a shirt. It’s cold up in those woods! However, there have also been sightings around the country of Bigfoot wearing a flannel shirt.
Again, like the goatman, these shirt-wearing Bigfoots are naked from the waist down, but why are they even wearing shirts at all? A Bigfoot is hairy all over. There’s something unnerving about the idea of a large male monster roaming around the woods just wearing a shirt. Or maybe it’s appealing, depending on what you’re into. The shirts Bigfoot wears are usually described as plaid or flannel, which in the US are symbolic of rural masculinity. Bigfoot and the goatman aren’t wearing Brooks Brothers oxfords because they inhabit the wild side of the world. Interestingly, the red-headed hitchhiker of Route 44 also wears a plaid shirt.
I found this story in T.M. Gray’s New England Graveside Tales. Gray, who is a Mainer, notes that once when she was hiking in the woods alone she heard strange flute music. She called out to the unseen musician, and the music stopped. Then it started again. She tried to follow the music, but as she did she realized it kept coming from different directions. Creeped out, she headed back to her car as fast as she could. As she notes, Pan and his satyrs were famous for playing the flute, so who knows what strange encounter she avoided.