As someone who lives just outside Dallas, Texas and also as someone who writes extensively on the subject of Cryptozoology, I am occasionally asked about the issue of lake-monsters in the Lone Star State. Do such creatures exist in Texas? Are there reports of Nessie-like animals in the state’s lakes? How many reports are there? Let’s take a look. We’ll begin with a startling story from May 13, 1872. The location: the waters off the coast of the Texas city of Galveston. According to the written words of a Captain Hassel, of a Norwegian ship, the St. Olaf…
“…Two days before arrival at Galveston, and about 4:30 P.M. on May 13, weather calm, smooth sea, lat.26 52″, long. 91 20″, I saw a shoal of sharks passing the ship. Five or six came under the vessel’s stern, but before we could get out a line they went off with the rest. About two minutes after, one of the men sang out that he saw something on the weather bow, like a cask on its end. Presently another one called out that he saw something rising out of the water like a tall man. On a nearer approach we saw it was an immense serpent, with its head out of the water, about 200 ft. from the vessel. He lay still on the surface of the water, lifting his head up, and moving the body in a serpentine manner.”
The captain continued: “Could not see all of it; but what we could see, from the after part of the head, was about 70 ft. long and of the same thickness all the way, excepting about the head and neck, which were smaller, and the former flat, like the head of a serpent. It had four fins on its back, and the body of a yellow greenish color, with brown spots all over the upper part and underneath white. The whole crew were looking at it for fully ten minutes before it moved away. It was about six feet in diameter. One of the mates has drawn a slight sketch of the serpent, which will give some notion of its appearance.”
Moving on, there’s the legend of the monster of Lake Granbury, Texas. Its name: “One-Eye.” The lake itself is not at all far away from where I live and, since 2005, I have visited it on several occasions. The creature is described as having dark-colored skin, a long neck, a very small head, and a humped back. Ronan Coghlan, an Irish investigator of all manner of Fortean anomalies, says: “Whether it has attained a one-eyed state by accident or whether it is naturally one-eyed, I cannot say.”
The lake itself is less than half a century old, which obviously makes many wonder how on Earth it can be the home to a monster – or even more than one. On this issue, it’s worth noting that the lake acts as a dam for the Brazos River. Notably, that very same river has many old tales attached to it of massive fish dwelling in its waters. For example, a number of people have told me of sightings of large animals swimming in the Brazos River – animals that they perceived as monstrous. However, the descriptions make me strongly suspect that what the witnesses actually saw were huge Alligator Gar. Texas Parks and Wildlife notes: “Although alligator gar may reach three feet in length in three years, their growth rate slows with age, and the fish may take 20 to 30 years to reach a length of six feet.”
It would not surprise me at all if some truly massive examples of Alligator Gar were the cause of a few lake/river monsters in Texas. In fact, I’m pretty much positive that’s the case. But, there have been some weirder cases from Lake Granbury. As one example, on a Saturday afternoon in the summer of 1999, a very large creature was seen partially and briefly beached on the shore of the lake. The boyfriend and girlfriend in question were sure that the beast – close to twenty feet in length – was a huge eel. Although an eel of such an immense size sounds very unlikely, reports of giant eels do proliferate.
Up until 2008, I lived very close to the shores of White Rock Lake, Dallas. While living there, I heard a couple of tales of monster-sized creatures in the lake. One came to me from the late Rob Riggs – whose 2001 book, In the Big Thicket, is a study of Bigfoot in Texas’ Big Thicket. Years ago, Rob told me of, and introduced me to, a friend of his who swore he knew that a baby alligator was let loose in the lake, many years ago. An urban legend? Probably, yes. But, it’s still one for the files. I have also heard of tales of huge catfish in White Rock Lake, which would not surprise me at all.
So, yes, Texas does have its very own monsters of the deep. Some may be oversized examples of known creatures. Others are likely the result of friend-of-a-friend-type tales. But, a few might very well be genuine unknowns.