Local legend turns 45


Commentary by Randi Middleton

Special to The Grizzly Detail

It was July 10, 1969 — the last summer of the 60’s. The end of an era, but the beginning of a legend. An unsolved mystery manifested itself in and around Lake Worth, Texas.

As the story goes, two couples were parked along the lake on that hot July night, when from behind a tree, a large monster, covered in both fur and scales, leaped onto their car. The creature was described as being part man and part goat. The couples were truly frightened and reported their waking nightmare to the local police.

At the time, the couples did not know there had been reports of a creature on Greer Island for the last two months. “Those people were really scared,” policeman James McGee said of the incident at the time.

The next day, the monster returned. and Jack Harris of Fort Worth saw the creature cross the road around the Lake Worth Nature Center. He tried to get some photos only to have his camera malfunction. In the end he was only able to get off one picture, which proved to be very blurry. Nonetheless, it was a picture of the creature we now know as the “Goat Man,” a local legend that has just turned 45 years old.

By the end of that night so long ago, thirty to forty people had arrived to see this newly discovered creature, including the police and reporters from the Star Telegram. As they watched the creature from a distance, many of the people with guns tried to go after it. This is when the Goat Man is said to have thrown a spare tire into the crowd.

“He threw it more than 500 feet and it was coming so fast everybody took off,” claimed Jack Harris. All the people out there, including the police, jumped into their cars and sped away. Another witness, Ronnie Armstrong, backed his car into a tree trying to escape the area. The monster fled into some brush, but not before it gave out a pitiful cry, Harris later told reporters.

For the next several weeks there was fear and exhilaration in the air. Many people investigated the Goat Man after reading the stories in the Star Telegram. Numerous claims were reported, such as seeing the monster break limbs from a large oak tree and finding footprints along the lake shore. At one point a set of tracks seen by over one hundred people were witnessed to be over 16 inches long.

Others claimed that the creature jumped onto their car, while others say they tracked the beast and found dead sheep with broken necks, and other evidence of the creature.

However, by far the strangest account is the one where hunters claimed to have shot it and found a pool of blood on the ground nearby.

Everything was logged into history by Sallie Ann Clarke and her now rare and valuable book titled, “The Lake Worth Monster.” Published the same year as the event, this legend still stirs up those fantastical memories that makes life worth living. A review of the book on amazon.com, says, “I will never forget the excitement by the communities both near and far; there were people walking down the hill by my house to Lake Worth hoping to get a chance to see the monster and hopefully shoot it! Many were carrying rifles! It was really a time I will not forget.”

A few areas around the lake owe their name to the Goat Man. On the opposite side of the lake, near the Lake Worth Castle, is another island of the lake, named Goat Island.

There is even the Goat Man trail on the White Settlement side of the lake. All children of White Settlement knew of the Goat Man, and the Goat Man trail at Wild Cat Canyons. That is, the children that grew up in the days when you road dirt bikes in the trails, and fished for crawdads at the creek with a piece of bologna on a string. There was even graffiti on the rock saying, “Go back – Goat Man” during those days. Many people have similar stories of signs along the trails. If you know where to look, you can still find artifacts of the Lake Worth Monster and the legend of the Goat Man.