Denton has numerous ghosts, but none are as famous as the ghoul of the Old Alton Bridge, built in 1884 to connect Alton (the county seat prior to Denton) and Lewisville near what is now Argyle. Well-known by locals as “Goatman’s Bridge,” this oldest Denton legend has it that a turn-of-the-century goat farmer named Oscar Washburn lived with his family near the bridge and was an honest Black entrepreneur to his neighbors. After he posted a sign “This way to the Goatman” on the popular passageway, outraged Ku Klux Klansmen dragged him from his homestead and hanged him by throwing him from the bridge BUT were shocked to find only an empty noose dangling below. The panicked Night Riders brutally murdered his family by burning their shanty and rumors of devil worship soon circulated. However, while some versions date events around August of 1938, there are older accounts that date the origins even earlier to a late 1800s Argyle Goatman named Jack Kendall, the work of drunken cowboys during the pre-bridge 1860s “Texas Terror” lynchings, or perhaps a 1895 Denton lynching that preceded the Quakertown eviction. Regardless of the true origin date, mysterious apparitions and unexplained disappearances have plagued the bridge area for generations. Denton locals still tell the story of this half man, half beast wraith to their children and follow it with a warning: those who cross the bridge and thrice rap on its steel trusses, or any who turn off their lights and honk 3 times in summons, will be visited by the ghostly Goatman. Particularly vulnerable, the old-timers say, are the unsuspecting descendants of Ku Klux Klan whom the vengeance-seeking Goatman ravenously preys upon and spirits away. Or is this fearsome horned creature with glowing red eyes a Satanic stalker of wayward women preceded by an overwhelming stench of death? Eyewitness accounts also tell of a ghostly woman, thought to be the Goatman’s murdered wife, roaming the woods searching for her slain children but eagerly claiming any youth she encounters. This haunted location and its eerie experiences have been featured in numerous books, paranormal investigations, and even TV programs such as “Unexplained Mysteries.”
Universities are often sites of hauntings, and the University of North Texas in Denton is no exception. UNT’s Bruce Hall is purported to be haunted by at least three different spirits: a ghost named “Wanda” who frequents the fourth floor and attic, the mischievous “elevator-surfer,” and the basement‘s “Boiler Room Bill.” The Student Union is also rumored to be home to a ghost nicknamed “Brandy” who turns lights or office equipment on and off, locks doors, and disturbs papers on desks. Maple Hall has its own spirit called “Brenda” roaming an outside alleyway, while the Health Center has reports of a forlorn shirtless guy on occasion and the Crumley Hall Screamer continues to spook students.
Details for these stories will be revealed on the DENTON HAUNTS & GHOST TOUR!