Photojournalist Anne Johnson on May 1 stopped on the flank of Powell Mountain in central West Virginia to visit its regionally famous inhabitant — a solitary, free-range goat that for 17 years has called the high-ground home.
Johnson, whose 2015 video of an encounter with the white, wary herbivore has picked-up steam on social media, reports that the she-goat is looking well for her age despite isolation and wintry conditions near the summit.
Known by some as the Powell Mountain Goat or Powell’s Mountain Goat, but otherwise officially nameless, she inhabits the cliffs above the U.S. 19 expressway, attracting the attention of sharp-eyed passersby and the adoration of travelers who have come to watch for her grazing on the rocks.
Johnson regularly monitors the goat’s behavior and can say something of her habit as the winters pass to summer.
“For her age, she looks pretty great. During the winter she still remains on the mountain, taking shelter under the trees, and, if the mountain isn’t icy, you can find her under several ledges. Goats don’t like rain much, so you’ll often find her under ledges when it’s raining,” Johnson wrote in an instant-message conversation.
Powell Mountain, some 12-miles north of Summersville in Nicholas County, rises to 2,417 feet above sea level, a relatively lofty landmark that bears the brunt of winter storms. The mountain is among the tallest peaks east of the Alleghenies and west of the valley of the lower Birch River.
Johnson says observers may be able to spot the goat depending on conditions and the time of day.
“She does have a routine, somewhat. In the morning you usually see her lying in a sunny spot at the top, watching traffic go by. Later on she traverses down the ledges, eating her way down. Often times she can be seen in the evening at the bottom near the road.”
The 2015 video was taken near the expressway on the one occasion Johnson got near her.
“It was taken near the road. She actually walked over to me that day, and I thought for a moment that she was going to come to me. She was only 10 feet away when I took the still picture. She stood there, and for 35 minutes let me take about 300 pictures of her. I was so excited!”
Johnson, who’s writing a book about the goat, has been tracking her existence since she absconded from a farm nearby in the Muddlety Valley.
“She ran away from their farm when she was only three months old. After they were unable to get her back, they resigned to letting her live on the mountain, where she has been for 17 years.”
A Facebook page dedicated to the goat has been established at Powell’s Mountain Goat.
Video and illustration courtesy Anne Johnson
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