Newspaper clipping from The Louisville Times, courtesy of Ron Schildknecht
The Pope Lick Monster is a legend local to the city of Louisville, Kentucky. Its identity has shifted throughout generations, and the birth of the Internet caused a revival of this particular tale over the past 20 years. According to legend, this monster may take on the form of a creature that is half-man and half-goat, half-man and half-sheep, or a hybrid that is also headless. The area he supposedly hunts is located at the Pope Lick trestle outside the city, about a 20-minute drive from the iconic Louisville Slugger museum downtown.
To best explain the Pope Lick Monster as folklore and the legend’s survival throughout the years, I will be digging up its origins, examining the conservative and dynamic aspects of folklore through versions of the creature in lore and media, explaining how process and experience tie into folklore in the form of legend-tripping, and discussing the grave realities that often come hand-in-hand with dangerous tales. My information comes from digital archives from The Courier-Journal, an interview with Ron Schildknecht, who directed a film on the legend, additional newspaper clippings and resources provided by him, the investigative work of others interested in the lore, and various articles by folklorists. See the Sources page for details.