; Phantoms and Monsters: Pulse of the Paranormal

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Susquehanna River Cryptids

The Susquehanna River is known for huge catfish, carp and muskellunge...and an occasionally Florida manatee will swim as far north as the Conowingo Dam. The Delaware & Susquehannock native people told tales of large serpents that traversed the deep waters of the mighty river. But it doesn't seem probable that a large river cryptid could reside in the Susquehanna River today.

In 2009, outdoors writer Ken Maurer of the Sunbury Daily Item wrote an interesting article that referenced his sighting of an unknown beast:

For those of you who missed the “most mysterious sighting” question asked of The Daily Item’s Great Outdoors panel, I told of a large creature that I saw swimming in the Susquehanna River.

I have to say that I received several comments concerning my eyesight, mental state, and imagination. Well, I saw what I saw, several times actually. I don’t know what it was and I have thought about it quite a bit.

The other day an acquaintance who shall mercifully remain nameless came up to me and told me he read of my experience in the paper, and he was amazed because he witnessed the same mysterious sighting. His sighting was a couple of miles downstream from the area where I saw it. We discussed it at length. He felt that because of the size of it, it was a mammal of sorts, similar to a seal or otter.

I felt it was a fish of some kind. After much discussion, we sort of agreed that it must be a fish because the head never comes out of the water. I have witnessed seals, otters and beavers swimming, and the head always comes out of the water somewhere along the line.

Now, as to how this all started. About eight years ago, a good friend of mine told me about this “thing” he saw swimming in the river. He described a small submarine about to surface.

Of course, I thought he was nuts. Then one evening we went fishing and the “thing” showed up. At first I thought it was a deer swimming across the river, then it turned and came upstream. When it got closer, there was nothing sticking out of the water. It pushed a wake that made waves that lapped up on the shoreline. At about 50 yards, it sank out of sight. Creepy. Over the next year or two, I saw it several times and it always sank out of sight before it got close enough to be seen clearly.

The only fish I can think of that could create this disturbance is a huge carp. I’ve never seen a carp act like that, but what else could it be? It’s not a mammal because nothing ever comes out of the water. Between those of us who have seen it, we think it must be at least five or six feet long, which is far larger than any carp I’ve ever seen.

Before you jump in your boat and go looking for it, sightings are rare. I haven’t seen it for years, although last summer a guy told me about a very similar sighting in the same general area.

We live in a very civilized area. How could any creature live around here, on land or water, that we don’t know about?

Well, we don’t know everything. When darkness falls, the forest turns into a very different place. Many hunters have seen and heard things in the pre-dawn darkness that are hard to understand or explain. Coyotes, for example, are very common around here, yet many people have never seen one. Who would have ever thought someone would catch a gar out of the river? We have pictures of that.

The outdoorsman Izaak Walton said it best: “Rivers and the inhabitants of the watery elements are meant for wise men to ponder, and fools to pass by.”

NOTE: I have heard of several odd sightings in the Susquehanna River since the late 1960's...including alligators, huge salamanders, and assorted unlikely mammals. I'd be interested in reading your encounters. Lon

Susquehanna, River of Dreams

Native Americans in the Susquehanna River Valley, Past and Present (Stories of the Susquehanna Valley)

A History Between the Rivers: The Susquehanna, the Juniata, and the Potomac

Invisible Indians: Native Americans in Pennsylvania