Tucked away in the remote Tver region of West Russia is Lake Brosno, a deep, frigid lake that sits isolated and forgotten in a domain far from civilization. The area is forbidding and only sparsely inhabited in modern times, and its eerie, otherworldly ambiance is only enhanced by the crumbling ruins of a ghost town on its shores, as well as the remains of a church sitting underwater down in its gloomy depths. Looking over this wild and wind blasted icy place with its jagged ruins, it is easy to get the feeling that this is a forsaken land full of ghosts and monsters, and if the legend and lore are to believe the lake indeed is inhabited by a monster, by some accounts an actual dragon.
Stories of something very large and menacing lurking in lake Brosno go all the way back to the 13th century. One of the most popular early accounts concerning the so-called “Brosno Dragon” surrounds a Tatar-Mongol army that headed for Novgorod in the 13th century with the intent of conquering more territory, led by the Mongol ruler and grandson of Genghis Khan, Batu Khan. When the troops reached the shores of Lake Brosno, they stopped to take a rest and water their horses at the shore. According to the tale, as the horses and men gathered at the water, an enormous dragon came boiling up out of the depths to attack them, dragging horses and screaming men into the water to devour them. The creature was so formidable and fierce that it apparently sent the army into retreat, saving Novgorod in the process.
Another old tale is that of a group of Vikings who set about rowing across the lake to reach an island, where they intended to bury a horde of loot. As the Vikings made their way over the lake, the dragon attacked, destroying the boat and killing all aboard. Indeed, this would become a running theme with the Brosno Dragon, that it had the habit of destroying or capsizing boats, to the point that fishermen were long terrified to even attempt to go out on the water here. Some of the more dramatic stories say that the dragon’s gaping maw is so massive that it can literally suck in whole boats and their crews. Historically, the Brosno Dragon would be described as an absolute behemoth, appearing like a “sand mountain” rising from the lake and often said to be hundreds of feet long.
Such amazing stories continued on well into more modern times, with a more concrete and somewhat less fantastical description of the beast becoming clear. Most reports would describe the creature as being around 20 feet in length, with a long tail, a reptilian head, an oversized, fish-like mouth, and the whole of it covered in bumpy scales like the skin of an alligator, with some reports even mentioning what seems to be a sort of bioluminescence. However, some of the reports still had the air of legend about them, describing how the creature could swallow people whole with its cavernous maw, and there is even a supposed case from World War II when it supposedly swallowed an entire fighter plane that had crashed into the lake. However, most reports began to describe the creature as rather shy, and prone to swimming away if anyone approached it.
Although the sheer remoteness of the lake means that sightings are rare, there have been some rather remarkable modern-day reports. In 1996, a family from Moscow was out at the lake when their young son began shouting and pointing out over the water. The parents managed to catch sight of something large and anomalous out on the water, and even purportedly took a photo of it, but it turned out to be too blurry to count as meaningful evidence. In 2002, an expedition to the lake was launched by the Kosmopoisk Research Association with the expressed mission to try and find evidence of the Brosno Dragon. To this end, they made sweeps of the lake using advanced echo location equipment and sonar, and as they did so they claim to have come across a very large organism of some kind down there in the depths, which prompted them to throw an incendiary device into the water. One team member by the name of Vadim Chernobrov would explain of what happened:
Echo deep sounding registered an anomaly. There was a huge jelly-like mass of a railway car size handing [sic] five meters above the bottom. The mass stood motionless. When the device blew up, the creature started slowly going up. We stared at the water, and it was clear; there was nothing resembling a monster, however something unusual was still felt in the lake water.
According to the team, they managed to retrieve a strange biomass from the water, which was believed to have been part of something alive at some point and was perhaps a piece of the creature removed by the explosion. Samples were supposedly taken from it, which matched no known creature inhabiting the lake. Of course, considering that nothing more is known about these supposed tests, and no photographs are known to exist, it is perhaps best to take these claims with a grain of salt. To this day there have been sporadic sightings reports of the Brosno Dragon, and we are left to wonder what it could possibly be. There have been many theories, including that it is an oversized fish, misidentifications of schools of smelt, or an animal such as a swimming moose, elk, wild boar, beaver or bear, as well as underwater volcanic activity or gas deposits bubbling up from the bottom. Of course, there are also the ideas that this could be an undiscovered species or a surviving dinosaur of some kind, but there is no real evidence towards any one theory. Whatever is in that lake has remained mysterious right up until this day, and until more evidence comes forward it will remain in the murky depths of speculation.