FORT WORTH (WFAA) -- The legends of supernatural creatures like Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster are well known around the world but North Texas is home to a much lesser -known creature of mystery.
For decades, stories of the “Lake Worth Goatman” or the “Greer Island Goatman” have captivated those fascinated by such mythical beasts.
“As I biologist, I can tell you scientists believe in fact,” said Rob Denkhuas, the manager of the Fort Worth Nature Center. “But if you don’t believe in mystery, fact is kind of worthless.”
The mystery began in 1969 when dozens of people were gathered in what was a popular Fort Worth hangout near Greer Island; a sandpit inside what is now the Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge. The enclosed area was surrounded by high cliffs and brush on all sides.
Then something happened.
“They heard a disturbance and a loud scream,” Denkhaus said. “And a tire with a rim came flying 500 feet off that ridge.”
People in the shocked and scared crowd looked up and claimed to have seen a 7-foot hairy creature running along the edge of the ridge. Some said it had horns like a goat, others noticed scales like a fish. A headline in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram the next morning read “Fishy Man-Goat Terrifies Couples Parked at Lake Worth.”
“It was up on there on those cliffs and it was running back and forth,” said one witness in an interview with WFAA from a story archived in the SMU Jones Film Collection. “I can’t see how a human could get through there.”
Channel 8 reporter Jerry Taff reported many skeptics believed it was a man in a monkey suit but large crowds of people equipped with cameras and rifles were expected the next night, giving police cause for concern.
Local journalist Sallie Ann Clarke published a book called The Lake Worth Monster with pictures, drawings, newspaper clippings, and first-person accounts of those who claimed to see the creature.
Denkhaus said other unexplained happenings only added to the mystery.
“This happened at a time there had been other incidents around the nature center property,” he said. “A creature had jumped on a car coming out of a tree.”
The fascination with the creature has been the motivation behind the Lake Worth Monster Bash festival held at the nature center every five years. Next year, a big bash is planned for the 50th anniversary.