; Phantoms and Monsters: Pulse of the Paranormal

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Bear Lake Monster

The Bear Lake Monster is a cryptid that appears in local folklore of Bear Lake, on the Utah–Idaho border. The myth originally grew from articles written in the 19th century by Joseph C. Rich, a Mormon colonizer in the area, purporting to report second-hand accounts of sightings of the creature. It seems he missed the tales of the Loch Ness Monster of his native Scotland, so he may of thought America needed it's own 'Nessie.' However, he later recanted the stories. In recent years the monster is considered to be a tourist attraction. The last reported sighting of the monster was in 2007. Here is an interesting account of the 'Bear Lake Monster,' (Bear Lake, Idaho / Utah border) published in The Logan Republican (Logan, Utah) on September 18, 1907:

Bear Lake Monster Appears

Leviathan Comes from Lake and Devours Horse While Men Shoot At It

The Bear Lake monster, a combination of dragon, bear, and fish, 'measuring twenty feet in length and possessing the roar of a lion is again agitating tho people over the mountains. According' to the Republican's informant this monster made its appearance on the lake front a few nights ago and killed a horse tied near a campfire. The owners Messrs. T. R. Mooney and Fred Horne, firing a number of shots at the peculiar looking dragon without effective results.

Several years ago this prehistoric leviathan made its appearance at the lake quite frequently and the people of that valley were in a continuous state of excitement as a result. Camping parties on the lake were few and far between and people about the lake were afraid to go to sleep at nights for fear of having their homes and themselves eaten up by this ferocious monster of the big lake. To those who remember the excitement of the earlier days, the following will come with special interest:

BEAR LAKE, Idaho, Sept. 12.,
Editor Logan Republican:

We camped on the eastern shore of Bear Lake just after sundown. After getting our horses tied to a large tree near the water’s edge, and fed, we started to prepare our supper. My partner, Mr. Horne, 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 was now 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 towards us like a mad elephant. We ran up the hillside a few rods to a cliff of rocks and then began to shoot as rapidly as 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 reloading 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 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 bull terrier would a mouse. After tearing the horse badly he made an awful 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 large fish. Its 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 largo 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.
Yours respectfully,

Then there is this account published in The Montana Post, (Virginia City, Montana Territory), April 23, 1869:

Utah papers have, during the last year, largely discussed the existence of huge amphibious monsters in Bear Lake, Utah. But we are not aware that any definite conclusion has yet been reached. A belief in monsters of the name character in Saguache Lake, in the San Luis Valley, prevails among a large portion of the Mexicans living in the vicinity, and has lately ex-tended among the Americans. It
is confidently affirmed that these animals, surpassing in size the largest alligators, have been repeatedly seen, and have been known to devour grown cattle who were grazing on the beaks of the lake. This story is not of recent origin. Mexicans, from the earliest settlement of the valley, have roundly asserted the existence of such monsters there. As the lake is remote from the settlements, the chances or observation are rare, except by herders. They are, without exception, implicit believers in the existence of these
nameless monsters. The story is a curious one. Someone variety of amphibious animals supposed to be extinct may have survived in Bear or Saguache. Without announcing our full belief of the story, we may remark its prevalence is hard to account for, unless it has some foundation in fact.

NOTE: Saguache Lake is in present day Colorado. There are several lakes in Saguache County...but none are now referred to as Saguache Lake. BTW...there are 32 newspaper articles in the Library of Congress about the Bear Lake Monster from 1836 to 1922. Here is the Bear Lake Monster website. Here is another excellent source. Lon

Field Guide to Lake Monsters, Sea Serpents, and Other Mystery Denizensof the Dee

Bear Lake Monster and Other Clever Stories

American Monsters: A History of Monster Lore, Legends, and Sightings in America

Encyclopedia of Lake and River Monsters

Some Logan, UT businesses used the Bear Lake Monster in their advertising