Summersville 2020 - 11

THE POWELL'S
MOUNTAIN GOAT:
SAYING GOODBYE
By Anne M. Johnson

F

rom the tender age of
three months, the Powell's Mountain Goat was
a survivor. For more than 15
years, the goat dwelled on
the rocky mountainside called
Powell Mountain, in Nicholas
County, West Virginia. After
years of escaping predators,
dodging the elements and
even enduring lost love on
the mountain, she quickly
gathered a popular following throughout the state, and
even in other countries.
The origin of this fearless, one-horned oddity, and
how she came to live on
Powell Mountain, had floated around the internet, and
years of rumor and speculation about the goat's gender and age had also been
pondered. Many had been
in awe of her sheer ability
to survive. Powell Mountain
boasts an elevation of 2,488
feet at its highest point, and
is inhabited by coyotes, bears
and venomous snakes. The
winters can be brutal, with
subfreezing temperatures,
deep snow and little vegetation. However, since she was
a kid, she had managed to
beat the odds and leave us
astonished and grateful for
her cleverness and skill.
According to her former
owners, the Powell's Mountain Goat was purchased in

Weston, WV, in the early
2000s, at the age of three
months. The young goat was
housed in a roomy and comfortable barn, surrounded by
a fortress that was three and
a half feet high. Though welcomed and fed, the goat was
restless in her new environment and began to pace and
ponder. The high wall rose
before her, and was the only
hurdle that stood between her
and freedom. With powerful legs that pushed off like
springs, the Powell's Mountain Goat bounded over the
towering barricade and sprinted across the farm, her course
set toward the mountains.
Weeks of chasing, coaxing
with food and gentle nudging failed to lure her back, so
the family finally resigned to
allow her to enjoy the freedom she so obviously longed.
Over the years, the kid grew
into a tenacious nanny upon
the mountain, drawing attention and alluding her fans, but
coyly posing for a rare photo.
Even as her fur began to
gray and she wasn't as agile as
she crossed the rocky precipices of Powell Mountain, she
continued to capture our affection and we remained captivated by her. The lifespan of
a goat had been heartily discussed and fans began to dread
the day when they would no
longer be graced with her presence on the mountain.

During March of 2019
the community became
alarmed when they sensed
her absence. One week passed,
then two and three, without
a spotting. Observers were
often fooled by two white
rocks on the upper level that
resembled the darling goat,
not willing to believe that she
may no longer be with us.
Soon the grass that she had
kept trimmed began to grow
tall, and fans missed watching
for and waving at her as they
passed. Their hearts were sad.
Though she is no longer
with us, she is not gone from
our hearts. Captured are the
many memories she gave us,
and the stories and photos
that were shared about her.
We will keep her memory
and legacy alive; there is talk
of erecting a plaque at Powell
Mountain to honor her, and a
book is being written.
Even though she is no
longer on the mountain, there
is a lesson that she left behind
for us. Just as she had done
while living on Powell Mountain, she wants us to be surefooted and climb our hurdles,
even when we only want to
give up. When the elements
in our hearts are stormy and
uninhabitable, she wants us
to create a safe haven for ourselves. Her wish for us is to
experience a place like she did,
where freedom lies, survival
reigns and love strengthens.
11



Summersville 2020

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