The number of lake monsters that seem to inhabit this planet of ours are numerous. It sometimes seems that almost every body of water even remotely capable of holding some sort of mystery beast does. While we all know the big and famous ones like Nessie, Champ, and Ogopogo, there are a fair many that are lesser known and may have slipped under the radar. Here we will look at some of the lesser known and under appreciated lake monsters that lurk out there in the waters of our world.
One very bizarre and more obscure lake monster allegedly makes its home at a place called Herrington Lake, in the U.S. state of Kentucky. The lake is not even naturally occurring, instead created in 1925 when Kentucky Utilities built a dam along the Dix River for hydroelectric power generation. The Dix Dam, which in its day was the largest earth filled dam in the world, had the side effect of birthing Lake Herrington, which is the deepest lake in Kentucky. Considering that it is an artificial lake, it is all the more bizarre that this body of water should be said to be the haunt of a rather curious creature. The Herrington Lake monster is in appearance just about as strange as you can get. Usually described as being around 12 to 15 feet long, with a long body like an eel with speckled coloration that is topped off rather oddly with a head said to resemble that of a pig, it is outlandish to say the least. This unlikely appearance has led to the creature’s rather humorous nickname, the “Eel-Pig,” and making it even more spectacular still is that it is said to be amazingly fast, able to keep pace with the fastest motorboats.
Although seen since the lake was first created, the most well-known sighting was perhaps one made by a University of Kentucky professor by the name of Lawrence S. Thompson. The professor was in a unique position to sight the creature, as he lived right on the lake, and indeed he would claim to have seen it cavorting about on several occasions. The professor always maintained that it was absolutely real and that he was not just pulling a prank, and having someone of his reputation make these bold claims brought a fair amount of other people out of the woodwork claiming to have seen it. In one sighting from 1977 the witness says:
Back in 1977 I was fishing with my uncle and his best friend during the day. We had put in at Chimney Rock, but I’m not exactly sure what part of the lake we were on when this happened. Something surfaced about 15 ft. away from the boat. All we could see was its back. It’s color and skin texture reminded us of a manatee, (but it was much larger) and it swam like a whale or a dolphin. By this I mean all that ever came out of the water was its back which was longer than our boat and at least 3 feet wide from the top of it down to the water…not sure how much was still in the water. We watched this thing for over 10 minutes in broad daylight. We never saw its head or its tail and then it just disappeared. We were in such shock that we forgot that we had a camera in the boat. My uncle was here this past weekend and brought it up. Nobody ever believed us so we had just put it in the past. And no, we had not been drinking.
Considering that this is a manmade lake, as well as the otherworldly appearance of the beast, it is hard to figure out what it could possibly be. It could be some sort of creature that got trapped in the lake with the building of the dam, a misidentified large species of fish like a catfish, of which the lake is full of, or an alligator gar, or more likely is just an urban legend or hoax. Whatever it is, there is very little in the way of any evidence for the Herrington Lake Eel-Pig at all, and should probably be considered merely a curious piece of local lore, but who knows?
Staying within the United States we come to Walgren Lake near Hay Springs, Nebraska. Although the Natives of the area long had legends of something very large and aggressive lurking beneath the waves here, it was not until 1923 when the story of a monster living in Walgren Lake would truly take off. It was in this year that a local man by the name of J.A. Johnson would claim that he had been camping at the lakeside with some friends when they saw an enormous dull grey creature measuring 40 feet long, and which resembled a heavy-set alligator with a single horn jutting from its head. The monster was said to have let loose with an ear shattering roar before diving down into the depths and out of sight.
When Johnson’s amazing account hit the news suddenly everyone was talking about it. Reports of people spotting the monster came flooding in, with it appearing in the news as far away as London. During this time the newspaper reports got increasingly spectacular with their descriptions of the creature, with the size increasing and the beast being said to have the power to stun with its roars or shake the earth with its hulking, stomping feet. More menacing accounts came from swimmers who claimed to have been attacked while swimming in the lake, or from farmers complaining that it had slaughtered their livestock, and there was a minor mass hysteria brewing at the time.
There were also various reports of intrepid monster hunters attempting to capture or kill the creature, such as a report of a group of fishermen who had gone out on the lake armed with full whaling harpoons, none of which met with any success. It is now thought that these news reports were mostly hoaxes, and that the original article on the monster was a scheme by a reporter named John G. Maher to sell papers and bring in tourists, but some still believe it was real to this day, and the nearby Hay Springs even uses it as their town mascot to this day.
Farther north we come to the state of Wisconsin, and its Rock Lake, where the Natives of the area long had stories of a monster with massive jaws that prowled the lake and its rivers attacking and devouring people and animals. Since the 1800s things got more publicized with reports of something very much like a serpentine dinosaur that is known for being quite aggressive. In one early sighting from 1867, a fisherman known only as Harbeck claimed to have been hissed at by the creature, and that it had also dragged his boat along after biting at one of his hooks. Interestingly, another fisherman named Fred Seaver was out trolling in the lake when the beast grabbed his line and dragged his boat for nearly a mile at a “rushing speed.”
There were numerous other sightings of the mysterious Rock Lake monster throughout the late 1800s. In 1882 there was a rather spectacular and harrowing encounter reported by an Ed McKenzie and D.W. Seybert. The two men claimed to have been out rowing on the lake when a gigantic reptilian monstrosity with a head like a snake dove under their boats, at one point surfacing right next to McKenzie and prompting him to shout out for help to the people on shore in a panic, begging them to bring a gun as his companion screamed at him to fend it off with his oar. On witness at a nearby boat landing apparently actually did take his own boat out towards McKenzie armed with a shotgun but the creature was already gone when he arrived, leaving behind a wake and allegedly a nauseating odor.
In 1943 there was a frightening encounter reported by a witness named Joseph Davis, who saw the creature rise up 7 feet out of the water right in front of his boat before diving under him and down into the murk. Interestingly, the nearby Red Cedar Lake also has its tales of a gargantuan, 50 or 60-foot-long snake-like monster with “saw-like teeth,” which some have theorized might be the same creature using some subterranean submerged passageways that connect the two bodies of water. The Red Cedar Lake monster was also seen mostly in the late 1800s, and was known for being incredibly vicious, often blamed for killing livestock and for dragging people down to their deaths.
Moving up further north we come to the country of Canada, and the placid Shuswap Lake of British Columbia. A popular recreation destination for people from all over the region, it doesn’t particularly seem like a place where most people would expect a menacing lake monster to reside, but there have apparently been obscure reports of just such a thing going back to at least 1904, in this case an enormous grey-black monster variously said as resembling a gigantic eel or something more mammalian in nature like a whale, dolphin, or even an aquatic bear, and which is affectionately known locally as the Shuswaggi.
According to cryptozoologist Adam Benedict, of the Pine Barrens Institute, who has uncovered many of these obscure reports through his research, supposedly in 1904 a local Native hunter from the area’s Secwepemc tribe actually managed to kill and skin one of the creatures, which was said to look like the hide of an enormous bear but with aquatic, webbed feet. Considering that it was sold off to a trading post shortly after, this skin has become lost to history and could have been anything. Other sightings, although sporadic and rare, have come in ever since. In 1948 there was an encounter reported by a fisherman who claimed that his boat was nearly capsized by the creature. Then it was seen again by a group of people having a birthday party at the lakeside in 1970, and yet again in 1984 when a woman saw a giant serpentine creature swim in front of her family’s boat. Considering the rarity of sightings and the rather crowded nature of the lake in modern times, one wonders what the creature could possibly have been, and if it might have gone extinct before it was ever classified.
North America certainly doesn’t have the monopoly on strange, little-known lake monsters. In the Yakutia region of eastern Siberia, in Russia, is the remote volcanic lake called Lake Khaiyr. In 1964 a team of scientists from Moscow University led by a Dr. Nikolai Gladkikh were here at this barren, windswept rocky place to catalogue the native flora and fauna. Gladkikh claimed that one morning as he had been at the lakeshore he had noticed a small, reptilian head poke out of the water, before the rest of it emerged to reveal an immense, quadrupedal beast with slick dark skin, a long neck, and thick tail, with small horns above its eyes and a fin-like structure running the length of its back. This dinosaurian creature reportedly exited the water and began to calmly feed on some grass nearby, completely ignoring the baffled scientist. Gladkikh would say of it:
It had a long gleaming neck with a small head. Its body was huge, covered with black-blue skin. There was a big dorsal fin on the back of its body. All of sudden, the animal slid back into the water. Some time later I saw it standing out the water in the middle of the lake. The animal started swinging its long tail to whip the water. The waves were rippling the surface of the lake.
Although he excitedly ran back to the camp to call the others, it was gone when they arrived. Nevertheless, a couple of days later another of the scientists would see the same beast himself, apparently just relaxing out in the center of the lake. Although the report made the news at the time it seems that no real follow-up expedition has ever been made back to look into it, mostly owning to the forbidding, inhospitable remoteness of the region. It sounds almost like it could be some kind of surviving sauropod dinosaur, but what was it doing in this desolate, cold region? For now, the mystery remains beneath the surface of that remote lake.
Maybe just as weird as Siberian lake dinosaurs is a lake monster that supposedly makes appearances at the Varberg Fortress, located south of Gothenburg, in Sweden. The fortress was built in 1287 by a Count Nielson, and it features a moat around it that bizarrely is said to be inhabited by some kind of lake monster. In this case the creature is rather small, measuring just a couple of feet long, with a 16-inch long, and it is described as being brown, furless, and quite carnivorous.
In 2006 the Varberg Fortress Moat Monster gained major media attention when two witnesses saw it emerge from the water to pull a duck under and kill it. There were efforts made to investigate the moat to determine what the creature could be, including using divers and even underwater microphones and sonar equipment but nothing out of the ordinary was found. It is thought that it might be some animal or fish that was released into the moat, but one idea is that this is an unknown species that has somehow made its way here from the sea, to which the moat is attached. Whatever it is, the moat of a 13th century fortress is certainly an unusual place to find a lake monster.
This has been just a few of some of the more obscure lake monsters of the world. They seem to lurk everywhere, prowling through the waters just out of sight and our ability to classify them. While you may know some of the big rock star lake monsters of the world, these are a few to keep an eye out for just in case you are ever in any of these places. Happy monster hunting!