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The legend of the Hairy Man of Round Rock

Illustration by Laura Rice / Texas Standard

This spooky season, Texas Standard is Tracking Texas Cryptids from the chupacabra to the wampus cat.

The Hairy Man of Round Rock draws some comparisons to Bigfoot. But others, like local Alexandra Owens, say he may be more ghost than cryptid.

“I think that the Hairy Man, based on the legend and, you know, my understanding and experience in hearing it, is that he’s more of a man who’s still haunting the space. You know, he kind of deemed it as his domain. And so with that, I think it’s really more of a ghost haunting that area and more like a person than, you know, a monster necessarily,” Owens says.

Owens is the community center manager at Brushy Creek Municipal Utility District. It’s almost like a small city between the lines of Austin and Round Rock. Owens knows a thing or two about the Hairy Man because she grew up in the area. In fact, she went to school just off of Hairy Man Road.

“Yes, there is a road that is named Hairy Man Road, located in Round Rock,” Owens says. “We took this road many times throughout all my years growing up, coming to sports and things in this general area. So I’ve had my own firsthand experience driving up and down this road and hearing this legend and having those experiences.”

Owens says that for much of that time, Hairy Man Road was not lit by street lights.

“So when you drove this road at night, it was, you know, spooky in a sense, whether you knew the legend or not. Very heavily treed and wooded. And there weren’t trails and things for people to walk on and sidewalks. So it was definitely very underdeveloped and a lot of greenery around to drive through and obviously at night made it a little extra spooky,” Owens says

She shared the following story of the Hairy Man.

The legend

The legend goes that on a dark and stormy night back in the 1800s, a young boy became separated from caravanning settlers as they were trying to escape the rising waters of the nearby creek.

The boy managed to survive on his own and became a hermit in the area. Not being civilized, he avoided contact with people and terrorized anyone who dared to enter his domain, frightening stagecoaches and solitary riders alike.

His legend grew in the area until, one day, horses leading a speeding stagecoach trampled him to death while he attempted his infamous intimidation.

This area became known as Brushy Creek. And the Hairy Man is said to continue to haunt it.

The haunting

Owens says, growing up, the way people would try to encounter the Hairy Man was to drive down his street at night.

“They would drive down this road and they would turn their headlights off to see if they [could] catch a glimpse and see if really the tales were true,” Owens says. “They roll down their windows because people claim that, you know, almost like a howl of a wolf, that you could hear the eerie howling from this Hairy Man. I have not ever been brave enough to drive down that road without lights.”

While she says she hasn’t heard a howl or caught a glimpse of the Hairy Man herself, she has had some scares.

“You have that moment of, ‘Oh, wait, is that the Hairy Man? Oh, it’s a deer.’ So it’s having those scare moments because it is in the back of your mind thinking, ‘Okay, you know, am I going to have that experience where I’m going to see these kind of intimidation factors coming to life with this Hairy Man legend?’” Owens says

Contestants in the Hairy Man contest from a previous year.
Contestants in the Hairy Man contest from a previous year.

The festival

To recognize, and even celebrate, the legend, the Brushy Creek Municipal Utility District holds an annual Hairy Man Festival. This year, it’s Saturday, Oct. 21.

It features a Hairy Man 5k, live music and performances, and a telling of the legend. But the highlight might be the Hairiest Man contest.

“I mean, you’re talking very Chewbacca-based, you know, maybe not as much hair as he has, but obviously overgrown due to the lack of civilization – you know, no haircuts, no shaving,” Owens says.

The festival is free and open to all – though there is a suggested donation for a local nonprofit.

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Laura first joined the KUT team in April 2012. She now works for the statewide program Texas Standard as a reporter and producer. Laura came to KUT from the world of television news. She has worn many different hats as an anchor, reporter and producer at TV stations in Austin, Amarillo and Toledo, OH. Laura is a proud graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia, a triathlete and enjoys travel, film and a good beer. She enjoys spending time with her husband and pets.