Thursday 31 October 2019

Bear Lake creature

Was recently sent this documentary on the search for the Bear Lake Creature.

My original post from 2009 is below for background.

There has been a lot of discussion online about the Bear lake monster so I thought I would look it up.
The first reported story of the monster came from articles written by Joseph C. Rich, a Mormon living in the area in 1868.
Here is a copy of the original article in the Deseret News Newspaper July 31, 1868 :
"The Indians have a tradition concerning a strange, serpent-like creature inhabiting the waters of Bear Lake, which they say carried off some of their braves many moons ago. Since then, they will not sleep close to the lake. Neither will they swim in it, nor let their squaws and papooses bathe in it. Now, it seems this water devil, as the Indians called it, has again made an appearance. A number of our white settlers declare they have seen it with their own eyes. This Bear Lake Monster, they now call it, is causing a great deal of excitement up here. S. M. Johnson at South Eden was riding along near the Lake the other day when he saw something a number of yards out in the lake which he thought was the body of a man. He waited for the waves to wash it in, but to his surprise, found the water washed over it without causing it to move. Then he saw it had a head and neck like some strange animal. On each side of the head were ears, or bunches the size of a pint cup. He concluded the body must be touching the bottom of the lake. By this time, however, Johnson seems to have been leaving the place so rapidly he failed to observe other details. The next day three women and a man saw a monstrous animal in the lake near the same place, but this time it was swimming at an incredible speed. According to their statement, it was moving faster than a horse could run. On Sunday last, N. C. Davis and Allen Davis of St. Charles; Thomas Sleight and James Collings of Paris, with six women were returning from Fish Haven when about midway from the latter place to St. Charles, their attention was suddenly attracted to a peculiar motion of waves on the water about three miles distant. The lake was not rough, only a little disturbed by the wind. Mr. Sleight ways he distinctly saw the sides of a very large animal that he would suppose to be not less than 90 feet in length. Mr. Davis doesn't think he was any part of the body, but is positive it must not have been less than forty feet in length, judging by the waves it rolled up on both sides of it as it swam, and the wave it left in the rear. It was going south, and all agreed it swam with a speed almost incredible to their senses. Mr. Davis says he never saw a locomotive travel faster, and thinks it made a mile a minute. In a few minutes after the discovery of the first, a second followed in its wake, but seemed much smaller, appearing to Mr. Sleight about the size of a horse. A larger one followed this, and so on until before disappearing, made a sudden turn to the west a short distance, then back to its former track. At this turn Mr. Sleight says he could distinctly see it was of a brown color. They could judge somewhat of the speed by observing known distances on the opposite side of the lake; and all agree that the velocity with which these monsters propelled themselves, was astounding. They represent the waves rolling up on each side as about three feet high. This is substantially their statement as they told me. Messengers Davis and Sleight are prominent men, well known in the country, and all of them are reliable persons, whose veracity is undoubted. I have no doubt they would be willing to make affidavits to their statements. Was it fish, flesh. or serpent? Amphibious, of just a big fib, or what is it? I give up, but live in hopes of some day seeing it.
More recently a Captain Hirschi reported in 2002 (see article below)that he saw a sixty-five foot long monster from about two-hundred yards:
Bear Lake serpent sighting
GARDEN CITY -- Brian Hirschi may have doubted the existence of the legendary Bear Lake Monster when he purchased a pontoon-boat replica of the creature three years ago.
But all that changed one evening in the summer of 2002. After a long day of giving tours aboard the vessel, Hirschi was anchoring for the night a few hundred yards offshore when he had a haunting rendezvous with the slimy serpent. Now, he's convinced that the scores of other eyewitness accounts of the monster, which date back to American Indian times, are true. And he shrugs off naysayers who suggest that the legendary creature is just a tall tale or marketing ploy. "When you join the elite group of people who've seen it, you don't care what everybody else thinks," the 29-year-old Hirschi said Thursday. That elite group reportedly includes LDS Church presidents Wilford Woodruff, Lorenzo Snow and Joseph F. Smith. Even Brigham Young is said to have once supplied a rope to a local resident who wanted to snare the creature. Hirschi's encounter, one of the more recent sightings, occurred at about sunset as he was drifting backward to make the boat's anchor lines tight. About a hundred feet off the stern of the vessel, he noticed two small humps three feet apart in the water. His first thought was that somebody had left behind a water ski, but suddenly the humps disappeared beneath the surface. "I thought this was strange, but I had seen stranger things on the lake," Hirschi said in a written account of the encounter he posted on the Internet last year. About 30 seconds later, he felt something scrape the bottom of the boat and then lift it out of the water about six inches. "This grabbed my attention because I knew there were no underwater rocks or obstacles that could have caused this, plus the 80,000-pound boat doesn't just get lifted out of the water easily." A few moments later, less than 50 feet from the side of the boat, the monster shot out of the lake. When it landed, it made enormous waves that rocked the boat violently. Hirschi clung to the rail to keep his balance, all the while trying to keep his eyes on "whatever had just come out of the water." The monster resurfaced about 200 yards away as it swam toward the middle of the lake at a high rate of speed. Hirschi stood on the boat for 20 minutes in shock before deciding he'd better get to shore before dark. He hopped on his Sea Doo and drove back to his business, Performance Rental, as fast as he could, almost beaching the watercraft with the engine still running. "I wondered if I should tell anybody," Hirschi said. "After some thought, I finally decided I wouldn't tell anybody because they might think I had gone crazy from spending too much time on the monster boat. Plus, there were no other witnesses to verify the sighting. ... It is not until now (a year later) that I have finally decided to tell my story and let people know to be on the lookout for the Bear Lake Monster because it is still alive and lurking." Hirschi said he believes the monster approached his boat to determine whether it was a similar species. Conrad Nebeker, the Indian Creek resident who constructed the boat in 1996 to entertain his grandkids, modeled it as closely as possible after eyewitness accounts of the monster, which is said to be a green, slimy, serpent-like creature with red eyes, fangs and bunchy ears. Hirschi said the creature he saw was also about the same length as the boat. However, based on his encounter, he's decided to add red lights to replicate the monster's glowing eyes, a smoke machine to emanate mist from the replicas nostrils and an audio device to play a roaring sound. Hirschi, a Cache Valley native who graduated from Logan High School and Utah State University, said his father and grandfather were both from the Bear Lake Valley, and he spent summers there during his childhood. He has maintained that living arrangement as an adult, offering 45-minute tours of the lake aboard the monster boat seven days a week beginning in mid-June. During the tours, Hirschi recounts some of the folklore about the monster. He said he always carries a camera, just in case his passengers are lucky enough to catch a glimpse. "We tell them there's always a chance," he said. "The Indians have a tradition concerning a strange, serpent-like creature inhabiting the waters of Bear Lake, which they say carried off some of their braves many moons ago. Since then, they will not sleep close to the lake. Neither will they swim in it, nor let their squaws and papooses bathe in it."
Story published by The Herald Journal / UT | John Wright - May 22.04
So a myth or is there something in Bear Lake? The descriptions of the creature vary between a walrus like animal and a sort of prehistoric crocodile and a large brown snake. Surely all three cannot be living in the lake? I think it may be an alligator gar again but anyone reading this has any suggestions or knows more about this, please post a comment. It could of course be simply a myth that has grown over time as these things do and mistaken identity of natural phenomena in the lake, fuelled by the myth. Anyone out there know different?.
The folktale:
The article that caused the discussion:

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