Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Legend of the Coatman

A Park Ranger from the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) struck up a conversation with me at Fox Hill Park in Bowie last Sunday. He initially asked me if I had caught any fish (I hadn't), and then he wanted to know whether or not I had purchased a fishing license (I had). He was very friendly, and I imagine that if I didn't have a fishing license, he would have just given me a reminder.

Our conversation turned to local fishing spots and boating on the Patuxent River, and I jokingly mentioned something about the possibility of running into the Goatman in the woods near the river.

The Park Ranger said, "did you know that the story of the Goatman is really a misunderstanding about a guy that people used to call the Coatman?"

The Park Ranger ran into a man some years back who was hunting for Bigfoot in Prince George's County. The hunter told the ranger that there was a man who would catch fish and turtles in local waterways during the Great Depression, and he would sell his catch to earn a little money. The man was a little odd. He had long unkempt hair and he would wear a long, heavy coat - even during the hot and humid summer months. People would sometimes spot the man in the woods, and they dubbed him the Coatman. According to the Bigfoot hunter, the story of the Coatman evolved into the present day stories of the Goatman.

I had never heard of the Coatman, so I searched the Internet later that night for similar stories. I came across a blog entry about the Goatman posted by a priest from a Catholic church in Mitchellville who calls himself Father Joe. Father Joe wrote...

One elderly person remarked that they had known the figure, not as the Goatman, but as the Coatman. The name changed as the particulars blurred by word of mouth. According to this testimony, and it makes real sense, it resulted from this madman always wearing a long coat of fur, even in the sweltering summers of Southern Maryland.

Perhaps the strangest part of this story is that there is a Bigfoot hunter roaming Prince George's County who is attempting to set the record straight whenever he hears silly stories about a creature that is half man and half goat.


  1. Ok Bowie Mike! I first thought two things! 1. Someone is looking for Bigfoot in Bowie?!! and 2. Please don't tell your wife that the "Goatman" may not be real! All these years, she believed and now to have it all taken away by a crazy man in an oversized fur coat. It is more than one person can bear!

  2. No matter how much things change, there are two things that my wife knows are always true.

    1. There are unfinished home remodeling projects in our house.

    2. The Goatman is real.


  4. Many years ago, when I was in junior high, we did a study on local legends, including goat man. I also was a member of the ecology club. We used to check the chemical levels of some of the local creeks. One was in an area that the Goatman was known to frequent.

    Right after we talked about the Goatman in class, we went out to gather water samples. It had been raining for a days and the water was deeper and flowing more rapidly than usual. It was also a bit of a dreary day. I was in the stream and happened to step on something that normally was not in that part of the stream. I am sure it was a log, but in our youthful imagination we were convinced it was the remains of the Goatman's er, meals.

    We started running back to where the teacher was sitting in the car with another member of the club. As we neared the road, we saw the car pulling away (they were just turning it around) We knew we were the next victims of the infamous Goatman.

  5. Anonymous, Great article in the Washington City Paper! Thanks for pointing that out.

    Dickster, I didn't know they taught Goatman 101 in local schools.

  6. Is this the Goatman of Lottsford-Vista Road?

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