Bear Lake Monster
Our website would not be complete without the story of our Bear Lake Monster. The story was written in 1868 by Joseph C. Rich and was sent to the Deseret News Newspaper. It goes as follows:
Now, it seems this water devil, as the Indians called it, has again made an appearance. A number of our white settlers declare they have seen it with their own eyes. This Bear Lake Monster, they now call it, is causing a great deal of excitement up here. S. M. Johnson at South Eden was riding along near the Lake the other day when he saw something a number of yards out in the lake which he thought was the body of a man. He waited for the waves to wash it in, but to his surprise, found the water washed over it without causing it to move. Then he saw it had a head and neck like some strange animal. On each side of the head were ears, or bunches the size of a pint cup. He concluded the body must be touching the bottom of the lake. By this time, however, Johnson seems to have been leaving the place so rapidly he failed to observe other details.
The next day three women and a man saw a monstrous animal in the lake near the same place, but this time it was swimming at an incredible speed. According to their statement, it was moving faster than a horse could run.
On Sunday last, N. C. Davis and Allen Davis of St. Charles; Thomas Sleight and James Collings of Paris, with six women were returning from Fish Haven when about midway from the latter place to St. Charles, their attention was suddenly attracted to a peculiar motion of waves on the water about three miles distant. The lake was not rough, only a little disturbed by the wind. Mr. Sleight ways he distinctly saw the sides of a very large animal that he would suppose to be not less than 90 feet in length. Mr. Davis doesn't think he was any part of the body, but is positive it must not have been less than forty feet in length, judging by the waves it rolled up on both sides of it as it swam, and the wave it left in the rear. It was going south, and all agreed it swam with a speed almost incredible to their senses. Mr. Davis says he never saw a locomotive travel faster, and thinks it made a mile a minute. In a few minutes after the discovery of the first, a second followed in its wake, but seemed much smaller, appearing to Mr. Sleight about the size of a horse. A larger one followed this, and so on until before disappearing, made a sudden turn to the west a short distance, then back to its former track. At this turn Mr. Sleight says he could distinctly see it was of a brown color. They could judge somewhat of the speed by observing known distances on the opposite side of the lake; and all agree that the velocity with which these monsters propelled themselves, was astounding. They represent the waves rolling up on each side as about three feet high. This is substantially their statement as they told me. Messengers Davis and Sleight are prominent men, well known in the country, and all of them are reliable persons, whose veracity is undoubted. I have no doubt they would be willing to make affidavits to their statements.
Was it fish, flesh. or serpent? Amphibious, of just a big fib, or what is it? I give up, but live in hopes of some day seeing it."
The Deseret News ran the story July 31, 1868. Great excitement followed. A news staff member during the next month quizzed many Bear Lake people and found hardly a person who doubted it.
However, the inevitable skeptics did appear on the scene. [The Wikipedia article states: "The myth originally grew from articles written in the 19th century by Joseph C. Rich, a Mormon colonizer in the area, purporting to report second-hand accounts of sightings of the creature. However, he later recanted the stories.-The all-important statement now being made that the allegation that the stories were recanted is itself unsubstantiated!-DD]
The Indians had taken a great deal of interest in stories of the monster and claimed that their ancestors told them about a monster. They were telling some pretty good-sized stories about the creatures.
In 1874, a traveler named John Goodman came through the Bear Lake Valley. He described an Indian legend about two lovers whom, upon being pursued by some of their fellow tribesmen, plunged into the lake and were changed by the Great Spirit into two large serpents. However, this is just a legend.
The description of the Monster was the following: A creature with a brown-colored body, somewhat bigger in circumference than a man, anywhere from 40 to 200 feet long [Typo for "Anywhere from 20 to 40 feet long"in standard accounts, a much more modest range!]. Its head was shaped like a walrus without tusks or like an alligator's, and the eyes were very large and about a foot apart. It had ears like bunches, about the size of a pint cup. It had an unknown number of legs [usually 4], approximately eighteen inches long, and it was awkward on land, but swam with a serpent-like motion at a speed of at least sixty miles an hour. No one ever described the back part [tail end]of the animal since the head and forepart was all that was ever seen. The rest was always under water.
Make believe? No one knows for sure. Come on up to Bear Lake and find out for yourself.
Although the giant salamanders do have numerous small sharp-pointed teeth (Skull shown at left) the teeth are made out to be more formidable in the reconstruction drawing.
|MAKING OF A MONSTER: Since its first
reported sighting in 1868, the Bear Lake Monster has been a source of pride for
locals in a small Idaho town. A Mormon colonizer, Joseph C. Rich, published a
series of articles in the Desert Evening News claiming locals had seen a
monster on the lake. Witnesses gave differing descriptions of the monster; some
compared it to a [tuskless]walrus, while others described it as a large reptile or
crocodilelike creature. Rich later recanted his stories, but the legend of the
Bear Lake Monster prompted an influx of tourists hoping to catch a view of the
NEW SIGHTINGS: Well over a century later, in 2002, a new report of a sea monster living in Bear Lake surfaced. Brian Hirschi, a local business owner recalled seeing two humps just above the water's surface while out on his boat one summer day. Hirschi said the humps disappeared, and then he suddenly felt his boat move. The monster reappeared right next to his boat and Hirschi came eye to eye with a creature he described as having "dark [blackish]green, slimy skin and beet red eyes." As quickly as the monster appeared, it disappeared. Bear Lake residents weren't sure what to make of Hirschi's tale, but they all agreed on one thing: The Bear Lake Monster continues to be good for business.
[Italics added for emphasis by DD]
VIDEO: Myth or reality? Get a closer look at the Bear Lake Monster.
ON TV: Check the Lost Tapes Episode Guide for air dates.
Earlier on, I was willing to grant that there had been authentic "Creature" sightings but that they were actually of known animals. The "Fact" that Joseph Rich had allegedly recanted seemed to account for all of the earlier, first-publicised reports. But still given that some of the accounts were spot-on for an elephant seal: a tuskless walrus-like beast some 20 feet long with four flippers. And there were some authentic accounts that came along later that were recorded by Rangers in the area but written off as mistaken views of swimming elk leaving the "String-of-Buoys" effects in their wakes.
Allowing for some exaggeration, many of the Lake Monsters of Washington and Oregon sound like Elephant seals and they are often compared to Hippopotamuses in appearance. Thuis includes not only "Big Wally of Wallowa lake, the Monster of Upper Klamath Lake, sightings on the Cloumbia river itself, and in Crescent Lake, also compared to "colossal Claude" and discudded in the same articles.John Kirk in the book In The Domain of Lake Monsters, on page 163, speaks of a description of what sounds like a definitel large pinneped carcass found far inland by a trapper in the earlies, no definite location cited.This in turn cited Strange Northwest as its source.
|Unknown Giant Lizard preparing to pounce on Goth Girl. By Angelia Mclean, Colorado|
This would be the "Faux-Alligator" again by the way the feet look-In Colorado, their young are said to lurk in trees