Some of Kentucky’s myths and legends are well-known, having been featured on major outlets like the Travel Channel and the History Channel. From some of the most haunted places in the country, to one of the world’s most famous UFO stories, looking into Kentucky’s lore is as creepy as any story that could be told after dark around a campfire.
Waverly Hills Sanatorium served as a hospital and quarantine for patients suffering from tuberculosis from 1910 until 1961. After a vaccine cured the disease, the sanatorium was no longer necessary. Today, Waverly Hills is rumored to be one of the most haunted places in America. Tuberculosis was an incredibly deadly disease, and unfortunately, many patients died while at Waverly Hills. Today, the owners conduct tours for people hoping to spot the ghosts that are rumored to still haunt the building.
The Pope Lick Monster, also known as the Goat Man, is rumored to be a half-man, half-goat creature that lives under the Norfolk Southern Rail Trestle in Eastern Jefferson County. Legends say that the creature hypnotizes passers-by and tricks them into walking along the trestle. The trestle forms part of what is still an active railway, and if a train comes along, there isn’t time to get back to safety before the train arrives.
The structure that now serves as Bobby Mackey’s Music World in Wilder, Kentucky, started off as a slaughterhouse in the late 1800s. Rumors abound as to what happened at the building after the slaughterhouse closed—some report that several murders took place there while other accounts tell of occultists who used the building’s basement to perform their rituals. Today, Bobby Mackey’s bills itself as “the most haunted nightclub in the U.S.” Reports of hauntings include lights turning on and off, jukeboxes playing even when unplugged, and full apparitions that appear behind the bar.
The overlook at Iroquois Park offers one of the most gorgeous view of the city at night, and if you believe it, hanging around Iroquois Park at night might also offer the opportunity to spot the park’s famed Headless Woman. According to reports, the area fills with fog just before the apparition of a woman dressed in 1800s attire appears, wandering through the park and holding her own head in her hands.
In 1955, a dozen members of the Sutton family in Christian County, Kentucky, drove to the Hopkinsville police station in the middle of the night to report that they had been fighting off little green men for the last three hours. The event started with a sighting of a streak in the sky that was later believed to be a UFO and left the family fighting off short, clawed creatures with big eyes and long arms for hours. While the story is notable due to the number of people who reported the sighting, no evidence of the invasion or ensuing struggle could be found after the event.
Hotrod Haven is a stretch of Mitchell Hill Road in Southern Louisville, Kentucky, that features sharp inclines, declines, and hairpin curves. In the mid-1900s, the stretch was popular for racing, and as a result, many young people died due to driving too quickly along the dangerous hillsides. The most well-known story of young people who died on Mitchell Hill Road is of a couple who crashed and died instantly while on their way to a dance. It’s rumored that the female still wanders the road at night.
Kentucky’s Sleepy Hollow isn’t the tale told by Washington Irving that most people are familiar with. Instead, it’s a ghost story about a stretch of road in Northern Kentucky where people have reported being tailgated by a hearse while driving down the road at night. As the story goes, the hearse follows cars too closely and eventually attempts to push them into a ravine below. A stop in the area known as Devil’s Point is also rumored to have been a popular location for cult sacrifices and rituals.
The Allendale Train Tunnel in Elsmere, Kentucky, is rumored to be the spot where a man committed suicide by hanging himself. People report a number of hauntings near the tunnel, claiming you can see an apparition of the man hanging and hear screams and voices coming from the tunnel. The story is made more believable to those that venture out in hopes of seeing a ghost due to the fact that there is a hook in the tunnel.
Louisville’s Cherokee Park is home to Hogan’s Fountain, a stone fountain topped by the bronze statue of a figure known as Pan. Pan is a cherub-like character that’s made creepy by the evil look on its face. It’s said that every night at midnight—or on full moons, depending on who’s telling the story—Pan becomes animated and roams the park, damaging cars and causing trouble.
By far, the creepiest and most disturbing Kentucky myth is that of the spirit of a little girl who’s said to haunt Pilot Knob in Marion, Kentucky. The story tells of a mother and her six-year-old daughter who were accused of being witches and burned alive. The accusers feared that the spirit of the little girl would survive the burning, so they created an intricate metal grave designed to keep her spirit entrapped. Today, people tell tales of the metal surrounding the grave being bent by the little girl trying to get out or to pull people into the grave with her to increase her strength and help her spirit escape.