Almost every country possesses a legend of a “Devil’s Bridge”. In this respect, the Tyrol region of Austria is no different.
Legend reports that, one day, a village in the valley of Montafon had their bridge swept away by an overwhelming torrent. The villagers were justifiably concerned, for they depended upon that passage to pass to and from Schruns, on the other side of the river, from where they traded and purchased their supplies. Banding together, the villagers applied to the local carpenter, offering him a large sum of money if he would rebuild the vital bridge in three days’ time.
The carpenter was in disbelief. The money being offered would make his large family rich. However, he saw that completing such a great amount of work in just three days was an impossibility. Before making a decision, he begged the villagers for one day of reflection.
All that day, up to midnight, the carpenter studied and pondered, frantically searching of a way to rebuild the bridge in the specified time. Angry and annoyed, he could find no solution. Just when he was about to give up and go to bed, a little man wearing a green hat entered the room. The strange man claimed that he could help the carpenter complete the task in the three days. He did, however, have one condition: once the bridge was finished, the first soul out of the carpenter’s house to pass over the bridge would belong to him.
It was then that the carpenter realised the strange man was the devil.
However, so enticed by the large sum of money was he, the carpenter agreed to the devil’s terms, believing that, when the time came, he could cheat the devil.
Three days afterwards the bridge was complete, and the devil stood in the middle, awaiting his prey. After having remained there for many days, the carpenter at last appeared. Sensing his payment was close at hand, the devil jumped with joy. However, the carpenter was driving one of his goats, and as he approached the bridge, he pushed her on before him, and called out: “There you have the first soul out of my house!”
In a fit of rage at having being so deceived and humiliated, the devil seized the goat by the tail and dragged her across the bridge. So hard did the devil handle the creature that her tail came out. Laughed at and mocked by all who saw him with the goat, the devil took off.
It is said that since the day the carpenter outsmarted the devil, all goats have had short tails.