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Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Raystown Ray and Snoligosters

 Raystown Ray
For decades there have been many sightings of a creature in Pennsylvania Huntingdon County’s Raystown Lake. Old photos show large shadowy figures just below the surface, boaters describing sudden water turbulence and strange appearances of a large water creature, Raystown Ray.
The first known photograph of Raystown Ray. Photographed by a local fisherman looking over the lake from the Huntingdon Co.

“We’ve known it’s been in there a while now,” admitted Managing Director of Raystown Lake Dwight Beall when he was asked his thoughts on this astonishing discovery. “It’s a private creature, but it comes out around this time of year (April). Call it Raystown’s own Punxatawny Phil.”
In 2006, when asked his professional opinion, Jeff Krause, Wildlife Biologist at Raystown Lake submitted the following statement in writing: “I believe it must be a vegetarian. We have not seen any evidence of this animal taking fish, geese, otters, or ducks. So I would suggest that our swimmers and boaters are very safe. It appears this animal’s habits are similar to Manatees, which are completely herbivorous and gentle. The increase of weed beds around the lake is probably providing more food in the shallows for herbivores and that would increase sightings.” Krause concluded
Sources: Huntingdon County Visitors Bureau
[Other sources DO state plainly that such creatures in other locations eat fishes,
otters, geese and ducks, and they are seen swallowing them-DD]

Raystown Lake is a reservoir but that only means that the creature was living in the river and got cut off: There does not need to be an ancient lake with a breeding population of monsters stuck in there for thousands of years, as many people seem to assume.

One other place there are repeated reports of Plesiosaurian River Monsters is in the Potomac River, and there are even some photographs (of probable tree-trunks and the usual humps travelling along at speed and leaving a wake), Below is a mock-up made to accompany a newspaper article on the subject: Faked but then it does show the idea of what was being reported (and the newspaper was not taking this seriously) However it DOES seem that both river monsters (and probably in other rivers in the area) are only "Chessie" gone upstream, and when "Chessie" was neither an eel nor a manatee. The map above shows drainage into Chesapeake Bay and thus "Chessie"could be possibly found in any of the bodies of water connected up to the bay.
 It seems that further back in history the name used for such creatures was "Snallygasters" or "Snollygasters" which it seems originally referred to something like the Jersey Devil but was understood to be dragonlike and so the name was used in the sense of "Monster" (Generic) and referring to Devil Bats, Thunderbirds and other creatures, but also to dragon-like water monsters as well. The name was originally German meaning "Fast Ghost" and hence appropriate for a flying creature. (Other names for aquatic monsters in the area include Haneturtle (note reference to having a turtle-shaped body), Hoopinflinder ("String-of-buoys"), and Lun-the last being suspiciously like the Chinese word for Dragon, Lung. The descriptions given for these creatures both in recent reports and in tradition in general sound much the same as the Altamaha-Has further South.
 I am not saying we need to stop saying "Chessie" and revert to "Snolligaster" but I am suggesting that older historical sightings can sometimes be found under that name.

 "Fearsome Critter"(Tall Tale) version is below
In the case of the Snoligoster at the bottom, the "Long spike on the back" seems to be another way of describing the "Periscope"sort of sighting. The three-part tail flaps are rarely recorded in reports but in ancient depictions seem to mean a plesiosaur's sort of two rear flippers and the tail (A single cloaca is also commonly depicted at the juncture in bestiaries and such. This also occurs in some Snollygaster depictions) A  serious composite of Snolligoster reports and traditions as of about 1900-1910 would show something like a shortened version of Oudemans' Sea serpent, in the realm of 30-60 feet long and in fact Oudemans does included some Inland/estuarine reports in the Carolinas that should fall under that description (Oudemans in general disbelieved in inland/freshwater sightings)

Snallygaster can be used to mean creatures in the hairy humanoid category, but there is actually a special separate name for those

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