It sometimes seems that, in addition to the lake monsters said to populate many major lakes of the world, the smaller bodies of water get less attention. Yet there are plenty of very small lakes and ponds that also allegedly have their mysterious denizens, and it seems that one only needs a decent bit of water sitting there to spawn legends of things roaming about beneath the surface. While lake monsters like the Loch Ness Monster and other big hitters of its ilk get all of the attention, lets look at the little guys, and the more little known mystery beasts that allegedly call various ponds home.
One relatively well-known pond monster is said to have made its home at the small town of Churubusco, Indiana, at a place called Fulk Lake, which is actually more like a pond, located on a remote, rural farm in the area. The first main sighting of the strange creature came out in 1898, when the farmer named Oscar Fulk was out fishing there one day on property and said that the monstrosity had come bubbling up out of the murk to reveal an enormous, “prehistoric looking” turtle, with a head the size of a human’s and a neck as “thick as a stovepipe.” Whatever it was disappeared back into the muddy water and would not be sighted again for many years.
In 1948, two men named Ora Blue and Charley Wilson went out fishing on the lake and they too reportedly spotted a gargantuan turtle with a shell as big around as a car, which was enough to get the attention of authorities, worried that there could be something dangerous lurking under the placid surface. Shortly after this the owners of the lake at the time, the Harris family, also began to sight the giant turtle there from time to time, to the point that in March of 1949 Mr. Harris decided that he was going to try and capture the gigantic monster himself. To this end he meticulously set up an array of stakes and chicken wire in the area where it was most frequently seen, a stagnant cove only about 10 feet deep. Apparently the creature actually approached and circled though the brown depths, but did not fall for it and remained elusive.
In the meantime the media was having an absolute field day with the idea of some prehistoric monstrosity in the pond, calling it variously the Beast of Busco or just Oscar, and the search for the beast became an event that drew great curiosity, pulling in hundreds and then thousands of people who came to gawk, as well as reporters from all over the country, many of them who did not take any of it seriously at all. Harris and his friends ignored all of this, instead focusing on creating ever more sophisticated and elaborate traps to try and capture it, as well as a periscope-type device that allowed them to peer underwater in an attempt to catch sight of it. Harris was even able to procure a diving suit and try and actually literally walk down to the bottom, a plan that was thwarted by a leaky mask. Other divers were also getting in on all of this, but the extremely poor visibility down there meant the beast could have been sitting in the silt and muck right in front of them and they’d never know.
The search was half-media circus and half-joke to a lot of people, generating several hoaxes such as a couple of men who claimed to have captured it and then offered a sea turtle head as evidence. All of the trickery and lack of results meant that media interest faded, but Harris was still hard at work, getting increasingly desperate to prove that it was really there, using dynamite charges and even attempting to drain the whole lake of its water. As the water began to flow out, there was a spike of public interest once again, as people just couldn’t resist the curiosity of seeing what would be lying there on the exposed muddy bottom, and crowds began to flock there once more. During this time there were some onlookers who claimed to have seen the beast, one even saying that they had seen it eat a duck. Alas, the efforts to drain the lake failed when the nearby dam to which they had been diverting water broke, and the pump they had been using broke down. The lake was now just a muddy sliver of water, but it could be drained no further.
Desperate and seeing the end of his quest so near, Harris and company tried dredging the bottom of the depleted pond, but rain would gradually fill the lake once again before they could finish. All of this had not come cheap, and considering what a money pit the search for the Beast of Busco had become Harris finally threw in the towel. The Beast of Busco would then fall into obscurity, and it is still unknown if there was ever anything there at all, although it has been speculated that it must surely have been an outsized and very out of place alligator snapping turtle. As to why it has not been seen since, theories run from that has died to that it escaped via an underground tunnel system, perhaps the same one that had allowed it to get into the pond in the first place. We will probably never know. Whether it really ever existed or not, interestingly the town of Churubusco to this day still has an annual festival dedicated to the beast, called “Turtle Days,” where one can enjoy all manner of turtle themed activities.
Also in the U.S. is an alleged pond monster that seems to be pretty mired in folklore but is still interesting nonetheless. In the northeast portion of state of Maine there is a tiny pond called Boundary Pond, which according to reports going back centuries is home to a curious creature called the Billdad. This strange creature is said to be about the size of a beaver, with powerful hind legs like those of a kangaroo, which allow them to supposedly jump vast distances, as well as webbed feet, a thick, flat tail, and a vicious looking curved beak. It supposedly lies in wait for prey at the water’s edge and when a fish surfaces it will stun it by slapping the water with its tail. The creatures were supposedly often seen by woodsmen and lumberjacks, and their meat is said to be poisonous.
In the state of Indiana we have a creature purportedly sighted at a place called “Lakeside,” at its tranquil Rose Gardens and its pond. According to a report on the site Cryptozoo-ocity, in 2010 witness Hannah Ramsey was walking her dog near the pond when she had quite the bizarre encounter indeed. As she passed the water, she noticed some sort of “fish-like” creature lurking near the shore, of which she says:
It was really weird. It had a snake’s tail. It was really long and really big in the middle and it had fish scales. It stayed there for a couple of minutes, but it wouldn’t turn so I could see its face. It was acting like it was strangling a fish or something.
Whatever this thing was has apparently been seen before, as a photographer named Lerry Kenner also says he saw something peculiar at the pond, something snake-like, of which he reported:
It looked bigger than a snake. It had a lot of girth. But it was long. Some friends say, ‘Oh, that’s a carp, but it kind of slithered through the water.
Kenner managed to snap a photograph of the mysterious creature, and when he posted it to his Facebook page people began to come out of the woodwork claiming to have seen the same thing, although employees in the area have reported nothing amiss. Moving out of the United States we come to a rather infamous pond in Japan with its own purported monster, called Takanami Pond, in Niigata prefecture. The pond itself lies 540 meters (1,722 feet) above sea level in a wilderness area, and is known for its pristine wilderness, camping, and hiking trails. It is also allegedly home to an enormous fish locals affectionately refer to as the Namitaro.
The fish is said to be between 2 to 4 meters (6.5 to 13 feet) in length and covered in large scales. The Namitarou rarely comes to the surface, but is known to startle people strolling along the pond from time to time. Fishermen have also claimed on occasion to have caught the beast, only to have it break their lines. One report of a more close encounter described how a man had entered waist high water in the pond to retrieve something he had dropped. As he blindly felt through the murky water and silt at the bottom, his hand came up against what he took at first to be a large log at the bottom. It was only when this “log” suddenly began to swim away that he realized it was some incredibly large fish. The mysterious fish was so large and powerful that the sweep of its tail as it swam off actually bumped into the man and knocked him down. The man described being terrified, and quickly exited the water to see a large wake as whatever it was sank into the depths. The pond is an odd place for such a large cryptid, as it is small and shallow, being only 13 meters at its deepest point. In addition, the area is quite popular for its hiking and camping, and there are many campgrounds, parks, shops, and restaurants in the vicinity of the pond.
The Namitaro has become somewhat of a legend in the area, and most people who pass through pause at the pond hoping to catch a glimpse of the elusive creature or the large wakes and waves it is said to produce as it cruises under the surface. These waves are so well-known that indeed the name Namitaro is a combination of the Japanese words for “wave,” nami, and Taro, a common Japanese first name, sort of like “John” for Westerners. It has been speculated that the Namitaro could be a specimen of a large species of Asian carp, such as the grass carp or black carp, that has somehow been released into the pond and grown to epic proportions. These species of carp get to very large sizes that are comparable to what people have seen in the pond. The black carp, for instance, can reach up to 6 feet in length and weigh over 200 pounds. An even larger species, the Siamese giant carp, can get up to around 10 feet long.
Not all of the pond monsters are of the fish variety, and there is a curious account from the 19th century at a place in Jackson County, Florida, where in 1884 there was said to have been a Bigfoot-like creature captured at a place called Ocheesee Pond, located in a vast cypress swamp located a few miles south of the towns of Sneads and Grand Ridge. The area had been a hotbed of mysterious wild man reports for years, and there was a spate of such sightings over the the winter of 1883-1884. The creature was often sighted eating berries and wading around in the water, as well as loosing bloodcurdling howls into the night, and an armed search party was finally launched after the harsh winter had passed in order to go out and look for the beast to either capture it, kill it, or drive it away. The search party apparently succeeded, as they came across some sort of wild man covered in hair out there in the tangled vegetation of the dank swamps. On August 18, 1884, there was a news report that said:
News brought by the steamer Amos Hays from Lower River is to the effect that the wildman captured in Ocheecee Swamp, near Chattahoochee, and carried to Tallahassee, did not belong to a Florida asylum, and that all inquiry proved unavailing to identify him. He had been swimming in Ocheecee Lake, from island to island, and when taken was entirely destitute of clothing, emaciated, and covered with a phenomenal growth of hair. He could give no account of himself, and the theory is that he escaped from an asylum of some other state, and spent his time in the woods, living on berries.
The strange man or creature was never identified, and it is unclear as to what became of him after this. Also from the 1800s is a report from the US state of Tennessee, where a mysterious hairy beast was often spotted roaming and lumbering about the wilderness of McNairy County. The creature was often described as being around 7 feet tall, covered in reddish hair, and with beady eyes that were red in color, as well as wreathed in a cloud of noxious stink that followed it about. According to one report, a circus showman managed to capture the creature, after which he imprisoned it within a cage and displayed it to a paying public until it managed to break free and escape. Again, it is unknown what happened to the supposed creature after that or if it ever really existed in any form at all.
These have just been a few cases of many of very strange things lurking within the smallest of bodies of water. It shows that one does not necessarily need an expansive lake and miles of shoreline to have instances of something strange in the water, and one wonders how these things came to be and how they can remain so hidden, indeed if they are even real at all. One thing is for sure is that the water draws us and the mysteries of what lie beyond that reflective surface seem to invite tales of the unknown. Whether any of these creatures ever really existed at all, it is fascinating all of the same, and adds to the lore of cryptozoology in their own unique way.