Friday 9 October 2009

Lake Payette Monster

Idaho's Payette Lake is a glacial lake about 7 miles long and over 300 feet in depth at the deepest point. There have been several documented sightings of a sea serpent type creature in the lake. The creature is said to range from 10 to 50 feet in length, with a snake like body and a flat head, resembling that of a crocodile. It has been described as a brownish-green or a yellow colour. Most of the sightings describe seeing two or three humps break the surface of the lake.

The first documented sighting by western settlers occurred in 1920 when workers cutting ties at the upper end of the lake thought they saw a log in the lake. The “log” began to move. Reports continued to trickle in of something in the lake until the 1940s. An auditor with the Boise firm, Thomas L. Rogers talked to the press about his encounter with the creature which brought more people forward to claim sightings.(see text of 1944 report at end of this blog)

Then in September 1946 twenty witnesses sighted a serpent-like creature "between 30 and 40 feet long," according to the Payette Lakes Star newspaper. Earlier that summer, a sighting by another group of nine people from Nampa was reported in the Idaho Free Press and Idaho Statesman. The Star held a contest in 1954, complete with a $40 prize, to find a name for the creature . They received entries from Virginia, Rhode Island and Kuna, and visionary suggestions ranging from “Watzit” to “Nobby Dick,” to “Pleistocene Remnaticus.” The winner, chosen by a panel of eight judges was “Sharlie”

Sightings have continued to trickle in over the decades with several in the 1980s and 1990s and the most recent documented sighting in 2002. A 1980 report by a biologist at Bloomsberg State College in Bloomsberg, Pennsylvania, concluded outright (and without eyewitness) that Sharlie was indeed an as-of-yet unheralded species—albeit one at the brink of extinction.

There was this sighting in 1996:

“Of course I didn’t have any fear. I was just fascinated,” recalls Kate Wolf of Boise, who made local news in 1996 for spotting humps “with peaks like the back of a dinosaur” and chasing them across the lake in a pontoon boat to get a better view. The verdict: “I knew I saw Sharlie. There was no doubt. Nobody could tell me this is a log, a moose or a giant sturgeon. It was something incredible—and why not?”

Article about 1940’s sighting :

IDAHO: Slimy Slim Monday, Aug. 21, 1944

From time to time over 15 years, people have seen an enormous sea serpent glubbing about in Idaho's Payette Lake. Most of them kept their mouths shut. But someone always talked. The lake is a seven-mile stretch of deep blue mountain water, rimmed by high pine-forested ridges and fed by a brawling, canyon-hemmed river. Summer cottages dot its beaches, and beef cattle graze in a Western-story valley below. The star-spangled nights at Payette Lake are beautifully clear; only the city-bred get any feel of the banshee, the barghest, the ouphe (rhymes with out) or other beasts prominent in monster husbandry. So Idahoans discounted serpent talk. And the serpent himself, a shy thing, appeared only at rare intervals, always at twilight.

But this summer the serpent has been popping up with cuckoo-clock regularity. Since July 2, some 30 people (including Republicans and teetotalers) have found themselves staring at his periscope-like head. The first witnesses conservatively discussed the serpent in secrecy and only among their closest friends. But Thomas L. Rogers, auditor of a stodgy Boise firm, boldly talked for publication after the serpent sloshed past his rowboat.

"The serpent was about 50 feet away and going five miles an hour with a sort of undulating motion," said the auditor. "His head, which resembles that of a snub-nosed crocodile, was 18 inches above the water. I'd say he was 35 feet long."

Suddenly Idaho's poker-faced skepticism became enthusiastic acceptance. The monster was immediately nicknamed Slimy Slim. This week photographers stalked him, and fishermen openly trolled the lake with deep-sea tackle.There was much argument as to the monster's antecedents. Most logical explanation was one adapted from the Idaho Sunday Statesman: Paul Bunyan, who used to fish the Snake River regularly, tied the shore-end of his sturgeon line to Babe, his vast blue ox, one hot day when sport was slow. Babe, nipped by a horsefly at the moment a sturgeon took the bait, twitched so violently that the huge fish was sent sailing all the way to Payette Lake. A jerk like that could well have given the creature a curvature of the spine (Slimy Slim is a three-hump serpent). And then Slim developed his periscope neck by nostalgically trying to peer back over the hills toward the scenes of his childhood.


So could this just be a sturgeon? The crocodile like nose would suggest so. Maybe more sightings will turn up more evidence to confirm or deny it.

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