The Axeman Cometh…

The Glasgow KY area has plenty of urban legends the local teens grew up hearing and telling.  There were many parking spots for the local teens that legends had grown up around, among them Bon Ayr Woods, Buffalo Ford, Coral Hill, Lecta Woods, Martha Devine Hole, Slash Bridge….

I begin this next story with the several legends that grew around the area of the Old Lexington Pike that later became the Old Munfordville Road.  Some are quite far-fetched, and a few reach back to a point in time where I can’t determine how they began.  Anyone who knows the area in question, and grew up locally will always hear tales of the Slash Monster and laugh in fond memory of late night drives out Lexington Drive- Old Munfordville Road in an attempt to spot the elusive beast.

The area north of Glasgow, between there and the town of Cave City, is the geographical area that gave Barren County its name.  On the earliest maps of the region, the section was labeled “the Barrens,” and was characterized by its seeming uncultivated barrenness.  It is mostly a swamp like area with nothing but prairie grass and scrubby little pines cedars and a few hedgerows and blackberry briars.  All of this undesirable foliage was labeled “slash scrub.” Settlers discovered the area’s deceptiveness quite soon after moving here, because the area has some of the richest soil in the Commonwealth.  But during winter and early spring months, it regularly resembles a swamp if there is a particularly wet winter.

The body of legends grew up closer to Glasgow where Old Munfordville Road crosses Beaver Creek. In the 1940s, the legend of the Slash Monster was established, so one must go further back in history.  The original bridge that forded Beaver Creek at this point was the common wooden covered bridge, and it was replaced in the post-Civil War era by the steel structured bridge common to that era, with a wooden bottom, and it could be quite a frightening experience to cross the bridge from either side at night.  Even in the modern time, the crossing is quite secluded and still holds its aura of trepidation.  Added to that is the fact that when you start across the bridge, the streetlights placed at each end of it usually flicker and go out temporarily.

The south side of the bridge is approached by crossing a field and arriving at the bridge, which is surrounded by thick overgrowth along the creek.  When approaching from the north you pass several roads entering Old Munfordville Road from the neighborhood,and several dwellings that have went up along the roadside.  The road enters a wooded area at the same time the road slopes downhill.   At night, as you start down the hill, it looks as though the road goes right up to and through  a large house at the bottom of the hill, but as you proceed on the road veers to the right, and the bridge is right in front of you.

The first story I remember hearing of the Slash Bridge haunting was of a headless horseman that rode downstream on the creek toward the bridge, carrying various items, including an axe and a satchel which probably contained his head or the head of some other unfortunate soul.  It was said that if you stopped on the bridge and turned your car off, you could hear the horse’s hooves on the rocks as it rode down the creek bed.  Some anxious teens even claimed to have seen sparks from the horse’s hooves on the rocks!

The second story I heard connected to Slash Bridge goes back into the early 1800s.  Near the bridge on the northwest side of the creek was the home of a wealthy local man who owned several slaves.  One night a young black man got angry with his master and took the master’s young daughter to the bridge and cut her head off with an axe, then threw her body into the water.  If you stopped on the bridge at night, you could hear the sound of the axe hitting the chopping block and then a loud splash as though something had been thrown in the water.

Brave young boys with a little fortification from a few beers, or some encouragement from buddies during a rousing round of Truth or Dare, would be sent out into the wooded area surrounding the creek to hunt down the origin of the noises.  An old wellhouse was discovered on the creek several yards away from the bridge, and the flapping noise somewhat like an axe on wood came from the old well pump in the house.

Sometime in the 1990s there was a really bad summer storm that caused flash flooding in the area.   Around the Beaver Creek crossing on Old Munfordville Road the land sits very low and water will come over the road for a brief period of time.  It was claimed a young lady drove onto the bridge unaware of the flooding until it was too late.  Her car was supposedly swept over the side into the creek.  The young ones today claim that people have caught sight of her walking down the side of the road in a white sundress.

None of these mentioned incidents are based on true events to the best of my knowledge.  As teenagers, several of my cousins, friends, and I spent many weekend nights parked in a field to the southwest of the creek near the bridge.  We never saw or heard anything, except if you are real quiet and listen to the water flowing over the rocks it does sound like horse’s hooves!

In the last year, in my search to encounter other tales of Slash Bridge and compare notes on what other people had heard, I came across another story I will discount.  The reason for nullifying this story is that I have found no proof of its truthfulness in newspapers, court records, or any other oral traditions.

The person I interviewed related to me a tale told to them as a child.  It was stated that in the early 1970s, a man came home one night in the slash country and killed his whole family with an axe.  I tried not to laugh at this highly embellished folktale because I was not in this area permanently until the 1980s, and therefore I couldn’t discount it until I did some research.

If anyone who reads this tale has any information that can be added, or they have dates for this occurrence, or even names that can be added, please feel free to leave me a comment so I can further research the story.  Otherwise I am taking this as an elaboration on the original tragedy that happened in the field near Slash Bridge in the remote past.

And that tale will come up in the next installment, which has been known for many years locally as The Tale of the Field of Blood.

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About Gclee

I am a long time genealogy and local history hunter from Barren Co., KY. I have many stories to share that may be of interest to other local genealogists and history buffs. I enjoy this as a hobby and hope I can be of encouragement to others. I also hope everyone enjoys my stories as much as I have enjoyed learning about them.
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One Response to The Axeman Cometh…

  1. Lee Ann Branstetter Ruth says:

    Very interesting. I grew up in Glasgow and have heard all the stories you refer to. Your article has brought back many memories of sitting on that old bridge back in the early 70’s and fearing the arrival of the slash monster…lol. And yes there was a story about a man killing his own family also. I do not see your name. Whom am I writing to????

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