Clay Henry - Famous Beer-Drinking Dead Goat
These days, Clay Henry the goat is a mounted display on a saloon dance floor. But way back in 1992,he was a living suds-glugging marvel:
Go to The Trading Post in Lajitas, a town of about 100 along the Rio Grande River near Big Bend National Park, and get some long neck beers. Buy them, then feed them to Clay Henry, the beer-drinking goat.
People come from all over to stand outside Clay Henry's pen and feed him beers all day long. There is no other good reason to be in Lajitas.
Once you pop the cap, Clay will do the rest. As Clay's drinking buddies -- smaller goats who cannot hold the bottle by themselves -- clamor about begging swigs, Clay -- a strapping black mountain goat -- takes the bottle from you, teeth gripping the glass. He rocks his head backward and chugs. When it is empty, Clay spits the bottle aside. Your turn is over. Clay moves down the fence, where the next tourist will feed him the next beer.
Actually, the goat knocking them back these days is Clay Henry, Junior. His father, Clay Henry, Sr. was the original beer-drinking goat. Clay Pere was much beloved in Lajitas for increasing tourism -- and got elected mayor in 1986. Visitors were known to bring a case and go toe to hoove with him. Posters and postcards of a triumphant Clay Henry, Sr. in mid-guzzle are still for sale at local locations. Tough shoes for a kid to fill.
Bill Valentine, the man who runs The Trading Post, stands behind the cash register and tells the shocking story of Clay, Sr's. death in 1992. "Clay, Sr. and Clay, Jr. both got soused in the same pen during rutting season. Clay, Jr. killed his father in a drunken brawl over a female." Clay Henry, Jr. drinks to forget.
Get there in the morning. By mid-afternoon Clay, Jr. -- pen littered with empties -- is clearly adrift in Sot's Bay. After staggering over to his salt lick and working it furiously, he'll drop to all four knees and his minus-sign-irised eyes will roll back in his head. He's had it.
Outside, the other goats finally get their fill from beers originally purchased for Clay, Jr. Inside, Valentine -- the stuffed countenance of Clay, Sr. watching over him -- shakes his head. "Clay, Sr. used to drink as many as people would feed him."
"Clay, Jr.," he says, resigned, "isn't the goat his father was."
May 2011: While goats no longer drink beer in Lajitas, the stuffed carcass of Clay Henry the goat is on display over at the Terlingua Trading Post.
November 2003: The Trading Post has reopened after six months of renovations by Austin businessman Steve Smith, who bought the entire town in an auction. He's added a wine and espresso bar and other niceties as part of an overhaul of the Lajitas into a retreat for the rich. But Clay Henry III still chugs beers to the delight of visitors...
August 2002: Beer drinking goat castrated by jealous neighbor! Clay Henry III, beer drinking goat and mayor of the west Texas border town of Lajitas, was attacked by local Jim Bob Hargrove and castrated. Hargrove committed the heinous deed after seeing the goat drinking beer on a Sunday, when the area's blue laws prevent the sale of alcohol to humans. Tourists had apparently been feeding Clay Henry his usual staple of Lone Star longnecks, and Hargrove threatened to castrate the goat, according to eyewitnesses. The mayor was found lying next to his testicles on Monday, Aug. 5. Ranchers sutured his wounds, and Clay was up slugging down cold ones soon after. Hargrove faces charges of animal cruelty.
1996: Clay Jr. has silenced the skeptics; he now drinks 35-40 beers a day. He had a bit role in The Streets of Larado television series, and was filmed for a Sally Jesse Raphael segment in 1995. Clay Sr. lived to be 22, so The Trading Post expects Clay Jr. to be around for a while. "Beer kills you, but it does it slow."