Sunday, April 12, 2015

Canadian visited Bear Lake in 2009 seeking 'strange creatures seldom seen'

 John Warms is on a monstrous quest for "strange creatures seldom seen."

The 65-year-old researcher from Manitoba, Canada, visited Utah back in 2009, hoping to hear firsthand tales of legendary beasts.

A retired public school teacher, Warms is working to publish a new book on "Strange Creatures."

"I'm certain they exist," based on many expeditions and interviews, Warms told the Deseret News.

Warms is one of many proponents of such creatures but one of few to take a special interest in purported creatures that may reside in the Beehive State.

Last week, Warms drove to Utah in search of its alleged water creatures, like the Bear Lake Monster and other strange beasts allegedly spotted in the Great Salt Lake in the 19th century.

Depending on what he finds, he hopes to write a book and enhance his Web site, which he hopes will break new ground with previously untold stories about sightings of strange creatures.

Warms isn't well known in the monster quest field just yet, but depending on what he finds in Utah and other places, that could change.

Living with Canada's Fairford River in his backyard, he's heard many tales of strange creatures — from the traditional serpents to giant prehistoric beavers.

These gigantic beavers are his favorite focus.

Though believed to be extinct for over 10,000 years, these are scientifically named "castorides Ohioensis" and can grow to up to 9 feet tall and weigh 440 pounds. He stresses that the fact that these giant beavers actually existed makes some of his claims much more plausible.

"I have encountered people in northern Manitoba and along the Alaska Highway who claim to have seen the bear-sized creature," he said. "I saw one in southern Manitoba, swimming, and the head was about basketball size. They seldom come ashore; that is why we don't know about them."

In Utah, Warms is especially interested in Bear Lake. Because it is a deep — 200-plus feet — body of water, its probabilities of harboring a Loch Ness caliber monster seems quite probable to Warms.

He also talked of a recent creature sighting in Lake Powell, where a woman described what Warms believes is another giant beaver.

"Lake Powell was an isolated sighting," he said. "I am sure many more people must have seen them around but perhaps didn't want to be laughed at."

In southern Manitoba, he has discovered large tunnels — up to 3 feet in diameter — along shorelines that he believes are made by such creatures to live in. Many are reinforced by clay linings and as soon as they are disturbed by man, the creature fills them in.

There are even tales of what he calls "underwater moose" and giant frogs, among other water creatures.

He's also amazed at how many tales of large snakes — 25-35 feet long — considered an impossibility by experts, because of the cold Canadian climate — that he hears about in his home area, too.

There are even reports of large flying creatures in Canada, with 3-foot wingspans and that only come out at night.

So far, he said, no scientific experts will take any interest in these purported creatures.

He recently built a large aluminum sled that a snowmobile can pull so he and friends can better penetrate the Canadian wilderness this winter to look for more creature evidence.

Drilling holes in the ground next to lakes and searching with underwater or infrared cameras will be his next steps to find evidence of strange water creatures.

"It could rewrite books," he said of what he could find.

He also said he once met a Manitoba Interlake hunter (now deceased) who thought he shot a wounded moose in some willows in 1941.

"It took me thirty-five years to figure out what I had shot," the old man told Warms. He had supposedly shot and killed a bigfoot (but that term was unknown until 1958).

Warms' interest in such creatures began 15 years ago. He has found that Native Americans who live near lakes and rivers are the best sources for encounters with such creatures. Once they know he believes in such creatures, too, he finds they are very talkative about them.

Native Americans at Idaho's Fort Hall had told him about some Sasquatch sightings there, on his way to Utah.

He planned to stop at every reservation he could, as he proceeded south to Flagstaff, on what he described as a working vacation. A part-time job in Canada helps fund his travel expenses.

In Flagstaff, he was planning to meet his wife, who will fly there, since she doesn't favor his long drives. (He drove from Manitoba to Salt Lake in less than three days.)

What does his wife think of his creature quests?

"She wishes I were an ordinary person," Warms said.

Warms can be contacted through his Web site: or by e-mail

-Originally published in the Deseret News by Lynn Arave on Dec. 27 2009.

1915: The Bull Moose 'Bear Lake Monster'

                                 Some typical Utah moose, near Jeremy Ranch.

“A Bear Lake Monster seen on Lake’s Shore. Swims seven and a half miles in one hour. Ranchers unable to capture animal” was the headline in the Logan Republican newspaper of Oct. 7, 1915.
A “Mr. Smyth” on horseback was chasing a large bull moose running southward, near the hot springs on the northeast corner and Idaho side of the lake.
The moose took to the lake and began swimming toward Fish Haven. After a 7.5-mile swim, the moose broke through a trap ranchers had set, after being telephoned of his route. He made it into the hills, west of the lake.
 “It resembles the Bear Lake Monster story in so many ways,” the story stated of the bull moose chase.

-RESEARCH conducted and compiled by Lynn Arave in 2015. 

Modern Bear Lake Monster sightings lacking ...

          The shores of Bear Lake are very busy each summer in the 21st Century.

MODERN era Bear Lake Monster sightings are a rarity.
There were so many 1868-1915 sightings, but they diminished substantially after that 47-year period.

Did the "monster" retire, slumber, die or move away?

Still, there are OTHER "Bear Lakes" in other states, besides Utah and Idaho. For example, California has a Bear Lake too ... But only Bear Lake seems to have had monster sightings ....

-A young child claimed to have seen the monster in 1937, while a Boy Scout leader sighted it in 1946.
-A tale of some scuba divers spotting something large underwater in the late 1970s is one of those rare stories. One of those spooked divers claimed he'd never go under the water again at that lake.
-A Murray man said he was boating on the east side of the lake with family in 1985 when they saw what could have only been a large creature swimming in the lake. It quickly disappeared, though bubbles kept coming up to the surface for a few minutes afterward. He said in 2017 that he has no doubt the Bear Lake Monster is real. 
-A Bear Lake Valley businessman reported seeing it in 2002.

-There have been NO known sightings reported of the Bear Lake Monster from 2006 to early April of 2015, according to
wildlife biologist Darren DeBloois in Bear Lake Valley, with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.

-The "Lost Tapes" show on TV's Animal Planet Channel also had a two-minute segment on the Bear Lake Monster. It can be found at:

-The Utah State University Digital Collections Library also has a wealth of easily accessed material on-line.
Go to:

-In recent years, more commercial and sporting enterprises are using  the Bear Lake Monster theme.
A tour boat, named and shaped like the Bear Lake Monster, sometimes cruises the lake, from the south shore.
There's a 7-mile Bear Lake Monster swim across the width of the lake each summer, plus separate 1-mile and 1/2 mile water races.
There is a Bear Lake Half Marathon, a Bear Lake Monster relay race, plus various other "Monster" footraces, like one up to Minnetonka Cave.

How could a creature (or creatures) so large not be spotted regularly with more people than ever living around the lake, plus each summer recreating in the lake?

-There are likely more tales out there and anyone wanting to share what they saw, heard or know of, can send and email to:

Stories will be added here to a more recent sightings compilation.

   Have you seen anything mysterious at Bear Lake, Utah?

-RESEARCH conducted and compiled by Lynn Arave in 2015. 

Logical Explanations for the so-called Bear Lake Monster

                   There are many boats and such on Bear Lake each summer.

HOW could a creature (or creatures) so large as the Bear Lake Monster not be spotted with more people than ever each summer recreating in and around Bear Lake, Utah?

--Here’s one possible explanation:
“Swimming elk” was a Nov. 19, 1976 story in the Davis County Clipper newspaper.
Bryce Nielson, a Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Fisheries Biologist, reported on Oct. 24, 1976, that a small group of elk – cows and calves – were boxed-in near Bear Lake, with their escape blocked by the highway.
They then took off in the water, swimming 6.5 to 7 miles across the lake in 3 ½ hours. The next afternoon, Nielson saw the elk swim back across the lake, though a cow and a calf were missing, presumably drowned.
“Local residents indicated that they had never before seen such an event,” this story stated.
Also, it ended with: “Nielson mentioned that looking at the small herd of elk in the middle of the lake made him and other residents think about the legend of the Bear Lake Monster. Could it be that we have solved another mystery.”
The elk swam in a long chain, whistling to each other along the way. In low light, they could appear possibly appear like one creature, a sea serpent.
The Native Americans told the first settlers in Bear Lake Valley in 1863 that there was a monster in the lake. However, they had not seen it since the buffalo in the valley had vanished. Historically, the buffalo were gone from the area by about 1840, likely due to two brutal winters.
Would that frigid event not have wiped out or decreased the elk population as well?
Five years later, in 1868, was the first Bear Lake Monster sighting by the pioneers. Perhaps elk had now returned to the area. (Although this doesn’t explain an monster attacking stories.)
Given the increasing homesteading and human population in the Bear Lake Valley though the decades could also mean that elk are rarely seen around the lake now.
-Wildlife biologist Darren DeBloois in Bear Lake Valley, with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, stated:
"I haven't had any "monster" sightings since I have been here.  I have heard the story about the elk swimming the lake, and that could account for something in the water.  Elk numbers around the lake are small, and I haven't personally seen elk in or around the lake since I started up here in 2006."

             Bear Lake, Utah-Idaho is a high elevation lake at 6,000 feet above sea level.

OTHER explanations of the Bear Lake Monster:

-At one time, a half-grown Beaver was seen swimming in Bear Lake. Somehow its image on the water made it appear dozens of feet long, instead of just several feet.

-On another occasion, a bull moose swimming in the lake conjured images as a possible "Bear Lake Monster," especially in low light.

                     Tubing is popular in Bear Lake.

-RESEARCH conducted and compiled by Lynn Arave in 2015.

The Most outrageous Bear Lake Monster sighting of them all!

                     A single boat at desk on a calm Bear Lake, Utah.

THE Logan Republican newspaper had a followup to another 1907 sighting with the headline: “Quil Nebeker sees monster. Verifies Mooney and Horne’s story of the Bear Lake Terrorizer and gives own experience” on Sept. 21, 1907.
Aquilla C. Nebeker was a very notable Utahn. He had not only served as President of the Senate of Utah, but as acting governor of the State for a brief time.
So, just like Charles C. Rich, a prominent leader, believed in the Bear Lake Monster in the 19th Century, so did Nebeker in the early 20th Century.
The Logan newspaper account stated it had received much response to its initial 1907 report.
It then published a lengthy report from Nebeker:
“In response to your inquiry, I can confirm the main facts of the "Bear Lake monster" story published in your last issue, but Messrs. Looney and Corn were probably too greatly excited to give you the details in an unexaggerated form. The eyes of the "monster' were not as large as wagon wheels, as stated, but they might easily have been mistaken for the headlights used on Logan automobiles, and it is an undisputed fact that either eye shed forth a light ten times more intense than any Logan street fixture.
“But, of course, this is of minor Importance. That the animal, monster, leviathan, prehistoric saurian, ichthyosaurus, pterodactyl, or mastodonaflshlcus, or whatever It may have been, was as vicious and bloodthirsty as the villain in Lincoln J. Carter's plays is evidenced in the fact that after killing the horse mentioned by your Informant, this same reptile (unless indeed there were two of them out on the fateful night)
Came to the Nebeker ranch, overturned the pigpen, devoured eight of my finest shoats, and on the return trip to the lake ate a stack of hay (small stack) and terribly lacerated two of my finest milkers. The monster came up near the house between 11 by and 1 o'clock and we were awakened by the glow from the creature's eyes, the whole country around being flooded with light.
“We all rushed to the windows, and there  in the brilliant light we could see this terrible monster, easily fifty feet long, fifteen feet high, and covered with scales like armor plate. There were countless arms and legs, and the two that extended from the rear of the head were shaped llke grappling hooks. It was with these that he (I merely presume it was or masculine gender) tipped over my pig-pen, and then as the porkers attempted to scamper away, these grappling hooks again came Into play with disastrous effect.
“He would pick up a 200-pound pig, toss it high in the air, and catch It In the descent, just like it had been trained In a circus. In less than eight seconds my eight fine pigs had found a resing (resting) place In the monster's "bosom" and it still seemed dissatisfied. It's eyes took on a greenish hue, It's face a ghastly, ghoulish appearance, and it began to swish it's tail at such a rate that the commotion in the air was well-nigh like a cyclone.
“In it's enhungered fury the monster tore down a dozen bales of barbed wire standing near my barn and gulped them down as though they were delicate morsels. By this time all of the folks but me were terribly frightened, and they confidently expected that the monster would smell the fresh-baked pies in the cellar and turn over the house In order to get them.
“Confidentially, I rather hoped he would in some way get the pies, but I sensed the danger to my loved ones and set my mind at work to devise ways and means to divert the animal's attention in case he decided to come up our way. At this juncture my dog, which seemed mesmerized before, let out a terrible howl that attracted the monster and here he came full tilt, mouth open wide enough to swallow the front porch.
“Here was my time for action, and while I dislike to speak of myself, I must confess that I arose to the emergency. As I attempted to kick my dog Into silence, I noticed my large graphophone standing on the  table ready for use. An inspiration struck me -- I called to mind the value of music in taming the snakes and wild animals of the forest and I decided to try It.
“Hastily winding up the machine, I opened wide the front door, squarely in the face of the approaching monster, and turned loose my music. As It happened, the record on the machine was that incomparable tune, "Home, Sweet Home," and as its strains floated out on the midnight air, I noticed that the monster halted, then stopped. His head being low, a reminiscent smile played o'er his features, and as the chorus was readied we were surprised to see the monster's tall switch 'round toward his neck.
“As we watched we noted a stringed Instrument, something like a Iyre, at end of the animal's tail, and us "Home, Sweet Home" continued, that monster didn't do a thing but utilize his several hands or feet In playing an accompaniment to that grand old tune. Ah, but It was sweet, and as "the band played on" we really fell in love with the Bear Lake monster. As I moved to his side, the monster seemed to welcome me as a friend of other days, and before "Home, Sweet Home" was ended the animal's head rested on my shoulder and we were mingling out tears together.
“All was going splendidly and I had definitely decided to adopt the animal and make him it member of my family. but just here sorrow, deep and tearful sorrow, shook the frame  of my newly made friend, and he began to weep. Great streams of tears poured from his eyes, and finally they flowed so copiously that the monster floated away in them. Thoughts of his subterraneous home were too much for him, and though he seemed loth to go, he waved us a sad farewell and disappeared from sight.
“A point of particular Interest just here Is that as the monster passed the barn it left my barbed wire stacked up nicely, and on top the pile left that lyre on which it had played that accompaniment. Imagine my surprise at discovering that stringed instrument to be a portion of a bale of that wire and a part of my pigpen worked up Into the most approved form.
“Now, boys, this is the straight of that "Bear Lake monster" story, but don't call him a "monster" any longer, for he is truly wondrously human. He was my friend and I learned to love him. Kindly convey my regards to all my friends in Cache and say to my Logan friends that If they want any further proof of this monster's re-appearance on Bear Lake's shores, I can show them the barbed wire he ate and the graphophone wlth which he was subdued. Yours respectfully and truthfully, AQUILLA C. NEBEKER.”

-An unbelievable account, or an imaginative work of fiction? One has to decide for themselves.

-RESEARCH conducted and compiled by Lynn Arave in 2015. 

Bear Lake Monster a popular Utah legend by the 1880s

 ,          Even the shallow Great Salt Lake spawned one monster tale.
THE Logan Leader newspaper of Sept. 2, 1881 reported that the “yarn” of the Bear Lake Monster had regenerated lately. It challenged someone who sees it to photograph it.

By now tales of this monster had made their way in political jabbing, newspaper vs. newspaper squabbles and many jokes in Northern Utah and Southern Idaho.
Even if you didn't believe in the monster, it was now a part of area history.
-Later in the 19th Century, there was also reports of a Great Salt Lake Monster and even a Utah Lake Monster. These limited sightings never got traction and the Great Salt Lake sighting took place in water only a foot or so deep, so no one took it seriously.

The Utah (Logan) Journal newspaper on May 11, 1883 defined the Bear Lake Valley as “The Home of the Monster.”
This story said that “quite a number of people really believe there is a large being living there.” It was described as 60 to 200 feet long.
The account then told of a fishermen’s account from years earlier when they had a wagon full of fish on the shore. They spotted something large moving toward the shore at terrific speed. One of the men shot at it. It disappeared and then a few minutes later floated motionless to the surface. They paddled out to it in a boat and found it to be nothing more than a “half grown beaver.”
“Yet so curiously did it reflect itself on the water that it really appeared to be from 50 to 100 feet long.”

-The next reference to the monster was a pre-pioneer one, as recounted in the Dec. 14, 1907 D. News. “Peg Leg Smith,” a mountain man, was said (according to Brigham Young, Jr.)  to have gotten the Native Americans in the Bear Lake Valley to bait hooks by the water with venison to legs to try and hook the monster. But, Smith would return in the night to take the strippings for himself.

-RESEARCH conducted and compiled by Lynn Arave in 2015. 

A 1931 Bear Lake Monster reference

STILL another Bear Lake Monster reference came along in the Rich County Reaper newspaper of July 24, 1931.
It stated under “Garden City News”:

“A very large animal must have lived in the lake at some time or another, because Mr. LaVoy Hildt found on the shore a large bone, length 34 inches, width across joint, nine inches. There must be something to the story of the Bear Lake Monster yet.”

-RESEARCH conducted and compiled by Lynn Arave in 2015.

1907: When the Bear Lake Monster devoured a horse?

                          The south end of Bear Lake at dusk.

"BEAR LAKE Monster appears. Leviathan comes from Lake and devours horse while men shoot at it” was a Sept. 18, 1907 headline in the Logan Republican.
“The Bear Lake Monster, a combination of dragon, bear and fish and measuring twenty feet in length and possessing the roar of a lion is again agitating the people over the mountains,” this report stated.
“…the monster made its appearance on the lake front a few nights ago and killed a horse tied near a campfire.” The horse’s owners, T.R. Mooney and Fred Horne “fired a number of shots at the peculiar looking dragon without effective results.” That was a summary of the men’s report, from the east side of the lake (deepest area reaching over 200 feet down).

A detailed account of the incident by Mooney is this:
“My partner, Mr. Home, called my attention to something out in the lake about a half mile. As we watched, it would sink into the water for a second then out again. The lake being perfectly calm we couldn't account for the strange object, but it came nearer to us and still going down and out of the water. Had it not been for this we would have thought it a gasoline launch or some other vessel.
“ It now was close enough for us to see that it was some water monster. We grabbed our 30-30 rifles and each of us fired at it, but could not see that we hit him, although he turned slightly to the south. Before we had time to fire again he turned towards us. Our horses were now very frightened, one of which broke loose. We stepped back into the trees a few feet and both fired, and my God, for the growl that beast let, then started in towards us like a mad elephant.
“We ran up the hillside a few rods to a slift of rocks and then began to shoot, as rapidly of possible. With every shot he seemed to get more strength and growl more devilish. The animal was now so close to shore, that we couldn't see it for the trees.
“We thought of our horse that was tied to the tree and after re-loading our guns we ran down to protect him, if possible. Just as we reached our campfire, which was blazing up pretty well, we could see that ugly monster raise his front paw and strike the horse to the the ground.
“Then he turned and started for deep water. In our excitement we began to pour lead at him again, and then with a terrific growl made a terrible swish in the water and sprang toward us. Before we could move he grabbed the horse with his two front paws, opened its monstrous mouth and crashed its teeth into it like a bullterrier would a mouse. After tearing the horse badly be made an awful fill howl and then was gone, plowing through the water.
“But the sight I'll never forget. It seemed to be all head, two large staring eyes as large as a front wagon wheel, nose and mouth like a great largo fish. It's arms seemed to come out on either side of its head where the ears naturally would be. The hind legs were long and bent like that of the kangaroo. Then the hind end was like the tip end of a monster fish.
“We walked to a ranch up the shore, a quarter of a mile and staid till morning. When we went back in the morning we found the animal had come back again in the night and carried the dead horse off. He also broke off trees four and five inches through.
“Also tore large holes in the beach, and its tracks were like those of a bear, but measuring three feet long and nearly two feet wide. We could not tell if our bullets would go through his hide or not, but noticed some of them would glance off and hum like they had struck one of his teeth, which always seemed to show. As there -was so much blood from the mangled horse, we could not tell whether the beast of the lake was bleeding.”
Truth or fiction? Definitely an extremely detailed account.
The Salt Lake Tribune published Mooney’s same account on Sept. 20, 1907 and then its editors commented:
“The Bear Lake Monster is not a discovery. It is an old friend dormant for some time. Several years ago it was ‘seen’ and camping parties fled in terror. Its ferocity is equaled only by its terrible appearance. It was then hailed as the ichthyosaurus. Let it go at that.”
The Intermountain Republican also reprinted Mooney’s account on Sept. 20, with the headline: “Imagination; or just booze? Bear Lake Monster returns.”

This story stated that the monster is “Bigger and stronger than ever” and advised doors in the area locked at night and that women and children be confined to the house.

-RESEARCH conducted and compiled by Lynn Arave in 2015. 

The Bear Lake Monster: A 'sucker' for sheep?

THE Ogden Herald newspaper, forerunner to the Standard-Examiner, published its first tale of the Bear Lake Monster on Aug. 27, 1881. “A sucker for sheep” was the headline.
Initially stating it could not vouch for its “absolute correctness,” the story was that a sheep was killed, placed on some grappling hooks, attached to a rope and lowered near the shore into Bear Lake, in hopes of catching the Bear Lake Monster.

This report stated: “Some Indians watched the proceedings with evident interest, and after the bait that the monster was expected to bite was thrown into the unsalted deep and the ambitious fishers had departed, the aboriginal individuals hauled in the line, denuded the hooks of the mutton, and substituted therefor the largest of the sucker species they could find. They were opposed to so much mutton being wasted on an unintelligent monster, while sensible humanity was longing for chops. Instead of the mysterious product of the placid Northern lake, the enterprising anglers succeeded in getting a sucker. ”

-RESEARCH conducted and compiled by Lynn Arave in 2015. 

The 1871 Bear Lake Monster captured hoax

THE Herald newspaper recycled a story from the Corinne Journal newspaper that was later proven untrue. The headline on July 9, 1871 was “Monster Captured.”
This report, later proven false, claimed that a junior member of the notorious Bear Lake Monster family had been captured by a fisherman and was now being held in Fish Haven. It was said to be 20 feet long and was captured in a trap just off shore.
On July 13, 1871, the Herald stated that the entire capture report was false, a hoax.

-RESEARCH conducted and compiled by Lynn Arave in 2015. 

More Bear Lake Monster sightings in 1870

                           Bear Lake, Utah, about 209 feet deep on the east side.

THE second newspaper reference to the Bear Lake Monster came in the April 6, 1870 Deseret News, when a Provo man theorized that if any “monsters” do inhabit Bear Lake, they must be of the seal species.
Then, in the D. News on June 1, 1870, Charles C. Rich reported that the grasshopper problem in the Bear Lake Valley was gone, but the Bear Lake Monster had been sighted once again.
A young man, Marion Thomas and three sons of Phineas H. Cook were fishing in a boat on the lake near Swan Creek (just north of Garden City on the Utah and west side of the lake).
Thomas saw something, perhaps a duck and started towing toward it. However, the other three boys had seen the Bear Lake Monster before and urged him to stop. However, his skepticism kept him rowing.
“He described his head as serpent shaped. He saw about twenty feet of its body, which was covered with hair or fur, something like a bitter, and light brown,” the newspaper report stated. “It had two flippers, extending from the upper part of the body, which he compared to the blades of his oars. He was so near it that if he had had a rifle he could have shot it.”
Rich then said this sighting makes the monster more than legend and capturing one would be worth it.
“The Monsters” was an Aug. 20, 1870 headline in the Salt Lake Herald newspaper.
“Bishop Budge informs us the Bear lake Monster has been seen very frequently of late. Even the most skeptical are giving away,” the story stated. “One reliable gentleman saw three of them together recently.”

-RESEARCH conducted and compiled by Lynn Arave in 2015. 

1868: First Bear Lake Monster sightings

                         Bear Lake from the Highway 89 overlook.

UTAH and Idaho’s own rough equivalent of the Loch Nest Monster is the Bear Lake Monster. It dates back to Native American legends and was first reported by pioneer settlers in the summer of 1868 – in the plural sense – since one mass sighting included 10 different creatures at the same time.
“Monsters of Bear Lake” was an Aug. 5, 1868 headline in the Deseret News. (The D.N. was Utah’s only newspaper at the time.)
Correspondence from Charles C. Rich, namesake of Rich County and LDS Church Apostle comprised this initial monster report, given almost five years after settlers first had arrived there.
The “monsters” then were listed as 1. Grasshopper swarms, crop destroyers; and 2. The Bear Lake Monster, an elusive sea creature.
The Lake Monster reference is highly significant, occurring 90 years before the term ”Bigfoot” was coined. And, coming 65 years even before the famed Loch Nest Monster became known world-wide (though some Loch sightings may date back to the 7th Century).
“All lakes, caves and dens have their legendary histories,” Rich wrote. ”Tradition loves to throw her magic wand over beautiful dells and lakes, and people them with fairies, giants and monsters of various kinds. Bear Lake has also its own monster tale to tell, and when I have told it, I will leave you to judge whether or no (“not”) its merits are merely traditionary.”
Rich continued: “The Indians say there is a monster animal that lives in the Lake that has captured and carried away Indians while in the Lake swimming; but they say it has not been seen by them for many years, not since the buffalo inhabited the valley. They represent it as being of the serpent kind, but having legs about eighteen inches long on which they sometimes crawl out of the water a short distance on the shore. They also say its spirits water upwards out of its mouth.”

Thus, the Native Americans hadn’t sighted the local lake monster for likely more than two decades before the pioneers arrived.

                           A southern section of Bear Lake.

Rich’s 1868 newspaper account continued:
“Since the settlement of this valley, several persons have reported seeing a huge animal of some kind that they could not describe; but such persons have generally been alone when they saw it, and but little credence has been attached to the monster, and until this summer the ‘monster question’ had about died out.”
So, there were two more pre-1868 Bear Lake monster sightings by early settlers.
Rich next reported: “About three weeks ago (likely early July of 1868), Mr. S.M. Johnson, who lives in the east side of the lake at a place called South Eden (about half-way north along the Utah side of the lake), was going to the Round Valley settlement, six miles to the south of this place and when about half way he saw something in the lake, which at the time, he thought to be a drowned person. The road being some distance from the water’s edge he rode to the bench, and as the waves were running pretty high he thought it would soon wash into shore. In a few minutes two or three feet of some kind of animal that he had never seen before were raised out of the water.”
The report continued: “He did not see the body, only the head and what he supposed to be part of the neck. It had ears or bunches on the side of its head nearly as large as a pint cup. The waves at times would dash over its head, when it would throw water from its mouth or nose. It did not drift landward but appeared stationary, with the exception of turning its head. Mr. Johnson thought a portion of the body must be lie on the bottom of the lake or it would have drifted with the action of water. This is Mr. Johnson’s version as he told me.”
 (The monster expelling water seems consistent with Native American stories and the deepest part of Bear Lake at about 209 feet is not far from there, on the east side.)
Rich next wrote that the next day three women spotted a similar monster in the same place along the lake that was “very large and say it swam much faster than a horse could run on land.”
“These recent discoveries again revived the ‘monster question’” Rich reported. “Those who had seen it before brought in their claims anew, and many people began to think this story was not altogether moonshine.”
Rich then recounts more sightings:
“On Sunday last (July 19, 1868), N.C. Davis and Alan Davis of St. Charles and Thomas Slight and J. Collings of Paris with six women, were returning from Fish Haven, when about midway from the latter named place to St. Charles (all in today’s borders of Idaho), their attention was suddenly attracted to a peculiar motion or wave in the water, about three miles distant. The lake was not rough, only a little disturbed by a light wind. Mr. Slight says he distinctly saw the sides of a very large animal that he would suppose to not be less than ninety feet in length. … It was going south and all agreed that 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, easy.”
The 1868 report continued: “In a few minutes after the discovery of the first, a second one followed in its wake; but seemed to be much smaller, appearing to Mr. Slight about the size of a horse. A larger one followed this, and so one until four large ones, in all, and six small ones had run southward out of sight.”
Rich then attested to Mr. Davis and Mr. Slight as being well known and reliable persons.
“I have no doubt they would be willing to make affidavits to their statement,” Rich wrote. “There you have the monster story so far as completed, but I hope it will be concluded by the capture of one sometime. If so large an animal exists in this altitude, and in so small a lake, what can it be? It must be something new under the sun…”
Rich then concluded his report stating that some settlers were talking of uniting to form a company to try and capture the monster, since it was something to rival P.T. Barnum (of later world-wide circus fame).

-RESEARCH conducted and compiled by Lynn Arave in 2015.