One of Kentucky’s lesser known claims to fame is a 1955 “goblin” sighting in Hopkinsville. Rob Lammle has the story at Mental Floss.
I knew there were (supposedly) goatmen in Maryland and, of course, Fisherville, Kentucky (just outside Louisville, where I used to live). I hadn’t heard they ranged as far north as Maine. Here is the scoop from Peter Muise of the New England Folklore blog:
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.
I wonder if all these New-World satyrs have a big family reunion somewhere?
Apparently, J. R. R. Tolkien was somewhat taken with the Bluegrass, as Alan Cornett of Pinstripe Pulpit reveals:
But it was a chance encounter [Tolkien scholar Guy] Davenport had in Shelbyville, Kentucky with a former classmate of Tolkien—a history teacher named Allen Barnett—that changed Davenport’s perspective about his former professor’s clever tales. To Davenport’s amazement, Barnett had no idea that Tolkien had turned into a writer, and had never read any of the adventures of Middle Earth.
“Imagine that! You know, he used to have the most extraordinary interest in the people here in Kentucky. He could never get enough of my tales of Kentucky folk. He used to make me repeat family names like Barefoot and Boffin and Baggins and good country names like that,” Barnett told Davenport.
“And out the window I could see tobacco barns,” Davenport writes. “The charming anachronism of the Hobbits’ pipes suddenly made sense in a new way….Practically all the names of Tolkien’s hobbits are listed in my Lexington phonebook, and those that aren’t can be found over in Shelbyville. Like as not, they grow and cure pipe-weed for a living.”