According to legend, in the waters of the Altamaha, near the city of Darien, there is a strange creature. It appears ever so often and sightings of this creature go back to the times before whites settled the area. The Tama Indians from that area first told tales of a huge water serpent that hissed and bellowed. In the 1920s, timbermen who rode the river reported sighting something that fits the description of 'Altamaha-ha', also known as 'Altie'. Other sightings include a Boy Scout troop from the 1940s and two officials from the Reidsville State Prison from the 1950s.
|The Altamaha River basin and tributaries|
Cryptofiction novelist Dallas Tanner wrote the following narrative:
For the last forty years…the Altamaha-ha has been sighted basking itself on the shore, trolling casually along the river in plain sight of eyewitnesses, and even reacted defensively to the presence of boaters.
Perhaps I should begin with a brief description of the river itself. The second largest river basin in the United States, second only to the Mississippi, it extends some 137 miles before joining up with its three major tributaries. These include the confluence of the Ocmulgee and Oconee rivers near Lumberton City, and joined further downriver by the Ohoopee. Where it empties out into Altamaha Sound above Brunswick, it is joined by the Darien, Butler and Champney rivers.
All of these tributaries and secondary rivers have reported sightings of the creature also known as the Alty. The Altamaha is home to over 50,000 species of migratory and non-migratory birds, as well as manatees, sturgeon and alligators. In fact, it is known as ‘The Little Amazon,’ due to the plethora of wildlife and the diversity of its ecology and topography.
|The Altamaha River near Darien, Georgia|
Recently, in 2002, a man who was pulling a boat up the river near Brunswick reported seeing something over twenty feet in length and six feet wide break the water. The man reported that the animal seemed to emerge from the water to get air and then submerge again beneath the depths. Others who have seen the animal say that it has dull gray skin and looks to be spotted in some places.
On a night in July, Donny Manning and his brother embarked on his boat on the Altamaha River at Clark’s Bluff. The lights on the house boat allowed them to see for some distance. Fishing for catfish, Donny decided to use an old trick he had learned as a kid which was oatmeal and soda mixed on a three pronged hook. They were fishing in a little depression outside the rough water when something took the hook. It did not act like a regular catfish after a catch. Most catfish would take the hook, run and stop, and turn; instead it ran with the hook. Every once in a while it would come out of the water where they could see it.
They say it measured about ten to twelve feet long and at first they thought it resembled a sturgeon, but after a few more jumps, they could tell it wasn’t. Donny claims it had a snout almost like an alligator, or, he thought, of a duck-billed platypus. He says it had a horizontal tail, instead of a fish like vertical one, and it also had a spiny kind of bony triangular ridge along the top of its body. The dorsal fin that was down, but he could see it on the back. The teeth were shining in the light were sharp pointed. The Creature was gun-metal gray on the top and oyster white-yellow on the bottom. It didn’t move along side to side like a snake either, but it moved up and down like a dolphin.”
Mr. Manning says he has lived on the water all his life and has seen all kinds of creatures, but this was the most amazing thing he had ever seen. He also claims he was using a salt water rig with a 40 lb. test line and the creature snapped it like it was nothing. Mr. Manning estimates from the way it felt on the line and the way that it snapped it that it was at least 75 lbs.
During the summer of 1980, Andy Greene and Barry Prescott reportedly saw Altamaha-ha stranded on a mud bank near Cathead Creek. The creature lay halfway in the water, thrashing and trying to free itself from the bank. They described it as a dark coloured, with a rough skin and that it moved like nothing they had ever seen before. The creature was very large, three to four feet thick (1 meter) and twenty feet long( 6/7 meters). They observed the creature for ten minutes, before it freed itself, submerged, and disappeared.
In December of 1980, Larry Gwin spotted what he thought was Altamaha-ha in Smith Lake, located up the Altamaha River, while eel fishing. He described the creature has a fifteen to twenty foot long and snake-like, with two brown humps that protruded from the water. It disappeared and did not resurface. The creature was spotted several more times in the early 1980s, particularly near Two-Way Fish camp. One eyewitness, Ralph Dewitt, a crab fisherman of fourteen years, described Altamaha-ha as "the world's biggest eel".
The Altamaha River is also known for very large catfish as described here. As well, there are other creatures that have made their way into the river including alligator gars and manatees. Perhaps this is just an urban legend, but the Altamaha-ha has been a mysterious creature along the Altamaha River for many years.
Tanner, Dallas - 'Wake Of The Lake Monster'
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