Thursday, March 17, 2016

'Adirondack' Murray Solved Lake Champlain Mystery in 1887

The following account appeared in the News and Citizen (Morrisville, VT) on June 16, 1887:


Adirondack Murray Solves It With The Aid Of A Good Field Glass;

W. H. H. Murray claims to have solved the sea serpent mystery of Lake Champlain, and his solution will perhaps apply to many along-shore mysteries of the same sort. He writes as follows:

Going to my front door last Friday morning I found many people, with more or less excitement, looking at the lake. I asked a teamster opposite my door what was the cause of it. He replied that the sea serpent was in the bay. I said : "Have you seen him " He replied that he had, and that it has only just sunk from view, and would soon probably re-appear. The words were hardly uttered before he pointed frantically toward the lake, and said: "There he is! There he is !" and sure enough, right in front of me, not two miles away, the lake being scarcely rippled, the air clear as plate glass, I beheld the sea serpent, and I must say that the spectacle was truly a most startling one. In my wanderings, I have chanced to see some strange things, and had cause to note some of the deceits that nature can practice on the senses, but I am free to say that I never saw on land or sea an appearance more startling than I saw in Burlington Bay in front of my house last Friday morning. The appearance has been many times described with a fair degree of accuracy. In length the serpent seemed at least 100 feet longer than a canal boat would at, that distance. Its color was at times of a slaty brown, and at others it seemed to be glistening white, like the scales of a shad. Its motion was undulatory, and a kind of quivering its whole length characterized it. It moved with astonishing rapidity toward the north, and when it was showing the full length of its appearance it sank from sight.

This is a plain account of the sea serpent as I saw it. The deceit was perfect. The coolest observer and the most skeptical would have been perfectly convinced that his eyes had beheld a marine monster. I have a field glass of real value, and, thinking that the serpent would appear again, I stepped quickly to where it hangs in the hall and adjusted the lenses for the distance. A lady's hand at the required range would show its fingers plainly. The first thought of incredulity, as I stood gazing at it before I took my glass, arose from the fact of the exceeding rapidity with which it was moving. Nobody, I said to myself, could ever move through the water as fast as that thing was going. I had hardly reached the veranda again when the cry rang along the street, "There he is! There he is again!" and sure enough, there was the serpent once more, white and shiny, moving with immense rapidity, with the same peculiar vibrating motion. I brought my glass to beat upon it instantly, and the mystery was that instant solved. The immense sea monster at once resolved itself into several hundreds of small birds of the same plover family flying in a long line, which swung down and to the right or left as they flew. The under side of their wings and breasts was snowy white; their backs were slaty brown. When in the long or short carvings of their flight, they were flying at such an angle as regards the gazer that the under side of their wings and breasts was seen, the serpent, long and white, appeared. When they took some slant at another angle, and their backs and upper side of their wings were turned toward the gazer, the white line faded out and the monster seemed to sink from view. The quivering and vibrating motions of the monster were thus explained. The quick flutter of their little wings, in long line extended, the gradual swoop up and down in their flight, made the appearance perfect. The immense speed of the serpent was accounted for, his motion being the motion of quick-winged birds clearing the air, and not of an aquatic monster rushing through the water.

That this is a true account and perfect solution of the Champlain sea serpent the public may believe, for I had not only the opportunity to see one sea serpent that morning, but I saw three at the same instant; one rounding Bluff Point, one about a mile out heading to join it, and another north of Juniper Island; and so I speak with the certainty of one who knows whereof he affirms. But the appearance is a most deceitful one, and with the unassisted eye its real nature cannot be discerned.

W.H.H. Murray, also known as "Adirondack" Murray, orator, outdoorsman, Congregational minister and author of religious and outdoor books including Adventures in the Wilderness, or, Camp-Life in the Adirondacks (1869) which popularized the north as a resort and health cure destination. The widely distributed book created the "Murray Rush" of visitors to the Adirondacks. He has been called "The Great Evangelist of Outdoor Life for the People." His life-long love of the woods inspired many others to follow in his footsteps.

Nevertheless...'Champ' is probably not a flock of birds. Here are a few links featuring Champ researcher and investigator Katy Elizabeth:

1977 Mansi 'Champ' Photo Displayed For 1st Time

In Search of Champ

'Champ Search' Finds 'Champ?'

You can listen to our interview with Katy Elizabeth on Arcane Radio

Water Horse Of Lake Champlain II (Volume 2)

Water Horse Of Lake Champlain

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

Cryptid U.S.: Tales of Bigfoot, Lake Monsters, and More from Across America