In the 1830s Don Pedro Carrillo abandoned his ranch on the lakeshore after a fire. He complained of the La Laguna del Diablo, the lake of the devil and said it has caused the fire . In 1855, Americans settlers tried moving into the area but later abandoned it claiming that it was haunted. In the 1880’s Don Chico Lopez and two other men claimed to witness the a monster with bat-like wings rise from the lake going on to say that it had wings and flippers. Workers reported seeing ominous shadows over the lake cast by the demon and the disappearance of livestock was recorded. In 1886 a Don Felipe Rivera said that forty-feet long creature , with six legs and two leathery wings had eaten some of his cattle. Some others claim that the beast was a giant snake. Basque immigrant Miguel Leonis purchased the ranch next and the story goes that after losing several of his animals, Leonis hunted the creature and attacked it one night, causing injury to its eye after bullets seemed to bounce off its tough skin. The wounded creature then apparently hid in the lake and then allegedly fled the area , but rumour was rife that many settlers, ranchers and the likes avoided the area for years.
The main source of the stories seem to come from a book called “On the Old West Coast,” author of Horace Bell, a California lawman, newspaperman and attorney, published in 1918.Bell said he heard the story of the monster from the great-grandson of an early Spanish settler named Guillermo Embustero y Mentiroso. Don Guillermo IV said he and Lopez, along with Lopez’ range boss Chico Vasquez, brother of bandit Tiburcio Vasquez, saw “a huge monster, larger than the greatest whale, with enormous bat-like wings …. It would roar and splash the water with what appeared to be great flippers or legs,”
In S.E. Schlosser’s book 2005 “Spooky California,” the story is that Leonis , known as “El Basque Grande,” bought the land around the lake from another rancher, who sold out because the monster had been raiding his cattle and scaring off his workers. When Leonis’ ranch hands reported the monster was stealing cattle, he camped beside the lake and waited for it to emerge from the water, Schlosser wrote.
“Berserk with rage, the mighty Leonis ran straight for the monster’s head, roaring louder than any lion and letting off random shots with his rifle,” Schlosser wrote. “Leonis leapt right into its face, smashing the butt of his rifle against the beast’s nose and forehead, and putting a fist into its right eye. ”Intimidated by the rancher’s attack, Schlosser wrote, the wounded monster retreated into the water and hid for months. A ranch worker later saw the creature flap away eastward, apparently to Arizona, where according to and April 1890 article in the Tombstone Epithaph two cowboys shot to death a creature like a giant crocodile with wings that stretched 160 feet.
Then there is this article from April 2009
It was once named La Laguna de Diablo because early settlers thought a monster lurked inside its watery depths. But Los Angeles County's largest natural lake, Elizabeth Lake in the Antelope Valley, is now considered heaven by nature lovers, who are attracted by its inherent beauty and its scores of animal and bird species. And now, many worry about its future, after its owner recently put much of the lake and its surrounding acreage up for sale at $19.5 million. The lake’s modern history dates back to the early days of California’s founding .In 1780, Father Junipero Serra named it La Laguna de Diablo because those who lived near the lake formed by the San Andreas Fault believed it contained the devil’s pet. In the late 1800s, Tiburcio Vasquez and other Banditos used the lake as a hideout for their stolen cattle and horses. It was later named
Source and rest of article:http://www.dailynews.com/news/ci_12069280
So was it just legend and folklore or was it a Thunderbird? Interesting thought isn’t it?