ALKALI MONSTER: (NEBRASKA, USA)
Originally chronicled in Native American folklore, this creature has been described as a gargantuan alligator-like beast with some unique attributes. Eyewitnesses claim that the beast is approximately 40-feet long, with rough, grayish-brown skin and a horny outgrowth located between its eyes and nostrils.
The first confirmed report of this curious monstrosity comes to us from the Omaha World Herald, dated 1923. In this report, a man named J.A. Johnson claimed that he and two friends had seen the creature while camping on the shores of Lake Alkali. Viewing the creature from a distance of a mere 60-feet, their testimony confirms that the animal’s features did resemble those of an alligator – complete with a rhinoceros-like horn – but that the creature in question was much longer and heavier than any traditional specimen of “Alligatoridae.” According to Johnson’s own account:
“I saw the monster myself while with two friends last fall. I could name forty other people who have also seen the brute.” Johnson went on to state that this creature had been responsible for local livestock losses.
The trio also claimed that as soon as the animal noticed their presence on shore, it emitted a “dreadful roar” and began to thrash its tail – creating a massive splash – before disappearing beneath the lake’s churning surface.
The American Monsters research team could uncover no modern encounters with this beast, which remains one of the most fascinating lake monsters in the continental United States.
"This lake is a few miles south of Hay Springs. In 1939 the indigent scholars and writers employed on the Federal Writer's Project, which was collecting "American Folklore", summarised the history of the monster there, which they facetiously call Giganticus Brutervious. When the monster appeares the Earth trembles and the skies cloud over. When he comes ashore, to devour calves it is said, a thick mist covers the shore around him. His gnashing teeth rumble like claps of thunder (How reminiscent this is of the Chinese dragons, originally gods controlling rain and thunder. Did the Chinese coolies working on the American railroads in the 1870s leave one of their deities behind them in Nebraska?) the writers archly describe the horror of the monster, how his appearance made men mad or turned their hair white. He was said to be over 300 feet long and to have swallowed a small island in the lake. By 1939 the monster was seen so infrequently that some thought it was gone away, others that it was hibernating.
This is an example of folklorists at their worst. Rather than treat popular stories as topics of serious interest, the writers feel that to justify their spending time collecting and rehashing them, the stories have to be given a facetious treatment, and the bourgeois prejudice of the reader pandered to by making what his grandfather believed to be an object of ridicule. This is not literature, nor is it social science. It is rubbish. They would have been better employed exploring the coincidence of their local folklore with Chinese mythology"Now that was uncalled for and I feel I must take Costello to task for it because he was being greatly misleading about a straightforeward report which he evidently did not even bother to read in the original. The story as Costello excerpts it was widely circulated at the time and reached even the London Times, which was evidently Costello's source. However, the original document is available on Google documents. It is quite responsible and it names John Maher as probably the originator of all this folderol. And bringing Chinese dragons into the discussion merely introduces another unrelated matter. The Alkali Lake monster seems to have been made from whole cloth from the onset, although there is the tiniest glimmer (because of the gag postcard reprinted by North American Monsters) that originally reports of "Giant Mudpuppies" might have been at the base of it. If so, the amphibians most likely had died off by the late 1800s and were separated from the wildly exaggerated stories by a generation or more. Here is the link to the document:
On the other hand, Hall's explanation of the creature as a kind of enormous horned alligator (up to 50-60 feet long, the presumed size of "Phobosuchus") DOES correspond to some reports of creatures in Texas, the Mississippi delta and deep in the Everglades of Florida, a creature sometimes called the "Super-Croc." During the WWII days, sightings of such creatures were confused with (or interpreted as) "Phantom submarines" come up the Mississippi as far as Missouri, and at least one report of the White River Monster (Arkansas) sounds like one of these creatures (An alligator-like creature with an exaggerated back-crest and estimated as 75 feet long) And representations of these creatures in Native art feeds into the notion of a "Great Horned Serpent" because that is what archaeologists invariably call them. However, these creatures are large and hefty with no discernable neck to speak of.
"Great Horned Alligator" as a "Mississippi River Monster"
IMHO, the horns on these representations are much exaggerated and we do have a real creature involved. The "Super-Croc" is world-wide in distribution and may have been reported as dragons both in Mediterranean countries as well as in the Orient (China and Japan): they may have been the originals for the reports of Tarasques and "Storm Dragons" (said to have fallen from the sky during storms, AND to have been reported in Madagascar, South and East Africa (Including as the "Silwaaane Manzi"-if so there is a possible photo of one from South Africa in the 1930s). They are more than likely the source of a couple of Heuvelmans' reports of "Marine Saurians" and we may have some specimens of some of them in our museums mistakenly labelled as "Crocodylus porosis"-especially the largest specimens assigned to that species. And we may have reports of the type all the way back to Sumerian imes. They seem to be nearly entirely marine but are forced to go into freshwater to breed: evidently the smallest hatchlings cannot tolerate saltawater and need a period of development before travelling out to sea.
Best Wishes, Dale D.