Bessie, monster of Lake Erie



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.