A sixty-foot-long, deadly snake roaming around California? It sounds incredible, and yet that is precisely the story that came out of Spring Valley, California in the summer of 1868. The story was told in the pages of the Calaveras Chronicle newspaper, whose staff said: “On the 12th of August, 1868, the serpent was first seen in the vicinity of Zane’s ranch, near Spring valley. Several persons-reputable people-saw the monster on two or three occasions, but always at a considerable distance-never nearer than a quarter of a mile. The reptile created the most intense excitement in the neighborhood, and at one time the getting up of a party to hunt it down was strongly agitated.”
The media continued: ““What were then thought to be the most extravagant stories regarding the size of the serpent were told, but recent events prove that the truth was not exaggerated. The snake was seen in an open field in broad daylight, and described as ‘being from forty to sixty feet long, and as large around as a barrel.’ The mark of the monster in the dust where it crossed the road bore witness to its immense proportions. There was a difference of opinion regarding its method of locomotion, some maintaining that it progressed by drawing itself into immense folds, after the manner of a caterpillar, while others were equally certain that its motion was similar to others of the ophidian family.”
Then, there was this: “The serpent disappeared for several months, and was seen by Mr. W. P. Peek, of this place, while coming up the hill from the Gwin mine. Mr. Peek was driving a two horse team and had got about half way up the steep hill that has to be ascended in leaving the mine, when he heard what he supposed to be the loud ‘screeching’ noise sometimes made by a wagon brake. Certain that a team was coming down the grade, and being in a favorable place for passing, he turned out of the road.
“After waiting until out of patience, and no team appearing, he drove on. He had gone but a short distance when a movement in the dense chaparral that lined the road, attracted his attention, and, advancing in the direction, he was horrified by the sight of a portion of the body of an immense serpent. At the same time his horse became unmanageable, and while Mr. Peek’s utmost endeavors were put forth to prevent the escape of the frightened team, the monarch moved slowly off into the brush, making the hissing sound he had mistaken for the brake of an approaching wagon.”
And, finally: “About a year subsequently the serpent was seen by a couple of boys in the vicinity of Mosquito, the youths being so badly frightened that they could scarcely reach home and tell the story. Such is briefly the story of the Calaveras serpent up to Saturday of last week, when the experiences had with it at once settled all doubts as to its reality, and fix the fact beyond question that one of the largest boas of which we have knowledge has its residence in this county.”