Have you seen Bessie? She is the monster who lives in Lake Erie. Bessie has been sighted over the years at various location in and around the lake. The first recorded sighting was in 1793 and Bessie has been spotted with increasing frequency over the last thirty years.
Many ship crews have reported Bessie sightings, describing her as a grayish, snake-like creature 30-40 feet in length and 1 to 4 feet in diameter. In 1892 an entire ship and her captain reporting seeing a huge sea serpent 50 feet in length with a head raised four feet above the water.
Bessie, or her ancestors, may have been swimming in Lake Erie prior to European settlement. The Seneca Indians tell the story of the Good Spirit and the Evil Spirit, in which the Evil Spirit commands a huge serpent who swam the waters of the Niagara River and Lake Erie.
Other Iroquois legends describe the creature Oniare as a dragon-like horned water serpent that lurks in the Great Lakes. The Oniare was said to have a poisonous breath, and would capsize canoes and eat travelers. People would try to protect themselves from the Oniare through offerings and by invoking it’s mortal enemy–the thunder god Hinon.
As well of the native legends and historical accounts by sailors, a series of sightings in the 1990s indicate that this sea monster continues to inhabit the shallow waters of Lake Erie. When swimming or boating in Lake Erie, watch out for Bessie.
From the Weird US website:
By 1993 monster mania was in full swing. National media grabbed hold of the story. The Wall Street Journal took a cynical approach to the sightings. It ran an article, published on July 29, characterizing the excitement as a clever marketing ploy to draw tourists into the small town of Huron [OH] as they sped toward Cedar Point.
Huron did take a particular interest in the beast, and the city soon produced a crop of pseudo-cryptozoologists and declared itself the National Live Capture and Control Center for the Lake Erie Monster. Tom Solberg of the Huron Lagoons Marina offered a $100,000 reward for the safe and unharmed capture of the beast. The reward has never been claimed.
David Davies, a fisheries biologist for the Ohio Division of Wildlife, spends much of his time on the lake. “It’s probably something closely related to a dinosaur. It looks like a brontosaurus, don’t you think?” he joked when a reporter asked him what the Lake Erie Monster could be. In his serious moments he thinks the animal is a large specimen of the lake sturgeon. Lake sturgeon can grow to be 150 years old, exceed seven feet in length, and weigh more than 300 pounds.
Weird Ohio: Your Travel Guide to Ohio’s Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets
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