May 06, 2023 I Brent Swancer

A Bizarre Account of a Very Strange Monster in Lake Superior

Sprawled out along the Canada–United States border with the Canadian province of Ontario to the north and east and the U.S. states of Minnesota to the west and Wisconsin and Michigan to the south, is the majestic Lake Superior. With a surface area of 31,700 square miles and holding 10% of the world’s surface fresh water, it is the largest freshwater lake in the world by surface area and the third-largest by volume, making it more of an inland sea rather than a mere lake. It should perhaps be no surprise that the natives of the region long held the lake to be a mysterious and sacred place prowled by spirits and monsters. One of the more prominent of these is the Mishipeshu, or "Great Lynx," of the lore of the Ojibwe people, who spoke of it as a giant underwater cross between a panther and a dragon that was able to cause storms. However, besides just Native lore there have long been reports of something strange in the lake, and one of these is particularly bizarre and hard to categorize. 

Lake Superior was historically known not only as a massive body of water, but also a prime location for copper mining, which had been mined by the Natives of the region long before Europeans had even arrived, by some accounts for thousands of years. It was copper that in 1886 brought in a team of prospectors to Lake Superior, who made their way to one of the lake’s many islands looking to get rich. The men set up camp and began scoping out the island for signs of copper, as well as preparing their underwater equipment to search beneath the surface as well. That first day they spent most of their time just scouting and prepping their canvas diving suit, and that evening they set up camp at the water’s edge, looking forward to beginning their search for the precious metal in earnest the following day. However, that night would turn out to be rather strange, indeed.

Lake Superior

As the group huddled around their campfire in the cold, one of them went off into the woods to get more firewood and allegedly saw something bizarre out over the water that caught his attention. According to the witness, he saw a bright green light that seemed to bloom out from the depths and spread until it was illuminating a patch of about 30 feet in diameter with its eerie glow. He quickly gathered the others and they looked out at this otherworldly light with bafflement and not a little fear. They had heard the Native stories of evil spirits in the lake, and so as that light pulsed beneath the surface and drifted closer to them one of the men allegedly grabbed his rifle and fired directly at it, and as soon as the bullet hit the water, the light inexplicably blinked out. The unsettled miners decided to take turns keeping watch for the rest of the evening but there was no further incident that night. 

The next day they were wary of what had happened the night before, but at the time copper mining was extremely lucrative, and so the promise of striking it rich trumped any apprehensions they had about evil spirits from Native American lore. They took their barge out into the lake to a promising location and prepared their diving suit, which in those days was a bulky and heavy canvas contraption with a thick brass helmet and fed oxygen by a tube attached to the boat. The diver got suited up and was lowered down to the bottom at a depth of around 30 feet, after which he began his search for signs of copper. It apparently did not take him long to find a vein of copper there along the bottom, which meandered off into the murk towards what he was sure would be a major deposit.

The diver followed this vein until he arrived at what looked like a large, underwater cavern. The vein snaked off into the darkness, and the diver allegedly turned on his underwater light and began penetrating into the gloom, but his hose was not long enough to progress far and he knew he would have to have his team reposition the boat to allow him to explore further. It was then as he turned around to go back that his suit’s light suddenly went out to leave him in pitch blackness that he had to feel his way through with outstretched arms. At this point the diver wasn’t particularly panicked, merely following his hose, but as he ambled about in his unwieldy suit feeling around for the rock wall of the cavern, he bumped up against something described as “a living, fleshy thing.” 

It was certainly an odd thing to come across down there, but considering that whatever it was seemed massive, the diver at first figured that it had to be the wall of the cavern after all. However, if he felt any relief at finding the edge of the cavern, this was shortly lived, as the “wall” then suddenly sprang to life with a green glow that pushed away the murky darkness. The panicked diver then began shouting into his suit’s telephone system as he hopped along the bottom trying to get out. As he did so, his hoses apparently got caught on something and he was unable to move as whatever the green glowing beast was approached. According to the report, a massive eye then appeared in front of him and the diver instinctively grabbed his diving knife and stabbed at it. From here it seems all hell would break loose.

As soon as the knife sank into the creature’s flesh it apparently became much brighter, almost blindingly so, and the rest of its body became clearly visible, described as a “giant beast with large eyes and more than a dozen tentacles.” This bizarre monstrosity was blocking the entrance to the cavern now, and so the diver slashed wildly with his knife as he moved forward, causing the creature’s tentacles to lash about and grab onto him. It was now a battle of life or death, with the diver frantically slashing at the grabbing tentacles and the creature managing to yank at his oxygen hoses. As this was going on, green nodules of light along the beast’s body were flashing and pulsating, further disorienting the terrified diver. 

At some point in this melee, one of the air hoses became either pulled loose or constricted, water began trickling into the helmet, and the diver knew he did not have much time left. Conjuring up all of his last remaining energy, he stabbed and slashed at the monster and made a last valiant surge towards the cavern’s entrance, in the process managing to completely sever one of the tentacles. This caused the monster to let go and cringe away, after which it shot off into the depths of the cavern, its glow fading away as it left. The exhausted diver, who was now starting to fade out of consciousness, was then able to get out into the open lake, where he was hauled back onto the boat. There his companions would tell him of how his hoses had been yanked so hard that they had caused the vessel to rock back and forth, at one point even threatening to capsize them.

After hearing the diver’s story, the team decided that the copper down there wasn’t worth it, and they vacated the area with great haste. What in the world was going on here? The account was first mentioned in the Manitowoc Pilot, after which it was published in various other articles, while accruing additional details such as that the piece of tentacle had been preserved. It seems as if it might have just been a fluff, sensationalist article for a slow news day, common in that era, but it is hard to say. Whatever the case may be, it is a damn strange case, and it makes one wonder just what is going on here. 

Brent Swancer

Brent Swancer is an author and crypto expert living in Japan. Biology, nature, and cryptozoology still remain Brent Swancer’s first intellectual loves. He's written articles for MU and Daily Grail and has been a guest on Coast to Coast AM and Binnal of America.

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