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The History of the Lake Erie Monster

Dirk Vander Ploeg's picture


On page 484 of the "Museum of Natural Sciences", under October 1817 we find the following references:

The shores of Lake Erie have remained the same for
hundreds of years.

4. Lake Erie Serpent. It appears that even large lakes have huge serpents or fishes, as well as the sea. On the 7th July, 1817, one was seen in lake Erie, 5 miles from land, by the crew of a schooner, which was 30 or 40 feet long and one fourth in diameter; its colour was a dark mahogany, nearly black. This account is very imperfect, and does not even notice if it had scales; therefore it must remain doubtful whether it was a snake or a fish. I am inclined to believe it was a fish, until otherwise convinced; it might be a gigantic species of eel, or a species of the above gnus Octijvos. Until seen again, and better described, it may be recorded as a gigantic eel.

5. The Water-Snake of Lake Erie has been seen again, and described to be of a copper colour; with bright eyes, and sixty feet long. It is added, that at a short distance (musket) balls had no effect on him, but it is omitted to mention whether it was owing to having lizard scales (in which case it might be a real snake of the genial Enhydris or Pelamis) or to the poor aim of the marksman.

On page first page of the Burlington Free Press and Times, May 16, 1887 we find the following article.

Lake Erie throws our Lake Champlain sea serpent into the shade with this monster, alleged to have been seen one day last week near Toledo, by two French fishermen. Their serpent had arms width it flourished in the air. It emitted a phosphorescent light from its whole body, and left signs of its presence on the shore, in the shape of scales as big as a silver dollar. The Ottawa county whiskey seems to be a pretty poor article.

TOLEDO, Ohio, May 14 - A special from Locust Point on the shore of Lake Erie, near here, says:

The French settlers along the lake shore, in Erie township, Ottawa county, a few miles east of here, were surprised and amazed last night over the appearance of an unknown fish of mammal size. Two brothers named Dusseau, both fishermen, were returning from these fishing grounds, when they discovered a phosphorescent mass upon the beach. It was late in the evening, but they succeeded in making their boat fast to the shore, and upon examination discovered a lake monster writhing in agony. The brothers say that was like a large sturgeon in shape, but that it had long arms, which it threw wildly in the air. While they were watching it the great fish apparently died, and the Dusseau boys, badly frightened, hurried away for aid. When they returned with ropes the fish had disappeared. In its dying efforts, it had succeeded in tumbling into the lake and had been carried away by the waves. The marks on the beach indicate that the serpent was between twenty and thirty feet in length. Several scales as large as silver dollars, which were believed to be the monsters, were picked up.


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