The Bear Lake Monster is a cryptid appearing in local folk-lore near 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. 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 2002.
Not all descriptions of the Bear Lake Monster agree, but one team of folklorists stated that it “is reported to resemble a serpent, but with legs about eighteen inches long on which it marauds along the shoreline.” One article reported that the creature had “a large undulating body, with about 30 feet of exposed surface, of a light cream color, moving swiftly through the water, at a distance of three miles from the point of observation.” Others reported seeing a monster-like animal which swam faster than a horse could run on dry land or even the speed of the fastest locomotive and had a head variously described as being similar to that of a cow, otter, crocodile or a walrus (minus the tusks). It size was reported to be at least ninety feet long, at most two hundred feet and certainly not less than forty. Some sightings even spoke of a second member of the species and smaller monsters as well.
An 1868 article in the Deseret News announced that, “The Indians have a tradition concerning a strange, serpent-like creature inhabiting the waters of Bear Lake…. Now, it seems this water devil, as the Indians called it, has again made an appearance. A number of our white settlers declare they have seen it with their own eyes. This Bear Lake Monster, they now call it, is causing a great deal of excitement up here” and then the author—Joseph C. Rich—went on to relate several sightings of the creature in recent times. The article created a stir in Salt Lake City and within a month “a news staff member… quizzed many Bear Lake people and found hardly a person who doubted it.”
LDS Church leaders took an interest in the monster and visited the area to speak firsthand with the residents of the region. They stated that they “had conversation with brother Charles C. Rich and other brethren from Bear Lake Valley, respecting the monster which have been seen in the lake”. Considering the testimony that had been given “by so many individuals, who have seen these creatures in so many places and under a variety of circumstances” they considered the story to be “indisputable.” The Deseret News continued to publish articles about the Monster—skeptically at times and defensively at others—while other local newspapers turned to attack the stories of a water devil. The Salt Lake Tribune even went as far as to quip that the Monster was “twin brother to the devil and cousin to Brigham [Young].”
Articles about the Bear Lake Monster continued to appear over the next several years, either reciting new sightings of the creature or creatures in Bear Lake as well as other rivers and lakes in the Utah Territory or calling the sightings into question. The number of alleged appearances of lake monsters all across northern Utah caused some people to speculate that there was an underground channel connecting the Great Salt Lake and other waterways to Bear Lake. Interest was high enough that at one point even LDS Church president Brigham Young decided to investigated the claims to find out whether the story was “an honest tale of a serpent, or only a fish story” and went was far as sending a large rope to Paris, Idaho to aid in capturing the monster.
Young wasn’t the only person interested in capturing the creature. One local resident proposed using a large baited hook attached to a twenty-foot cable and three hundred yards of one-inch rope, at the end of which was a to be a large buoy with a flagstaff inserted and an anchor to keep it in a perpendicular position. From the buoy one hundred yards of three-quarter-inch rope was to be extended to a tree on shore. When captured, it was hoped that the monster could exploited for its wondrous proportions in the show business, in competition with the famous P. T. Barnum.
Interest eventually died down in the subject and the phenomenon faded from public memory. Twenty-six years following his articles and allegations, Joseph C. Rich finally admitted that it had all been a “wonderful first class lie.”
Sighting of the Bear Lake Monster continued even after Rich admitted that he fabricated the original sightings as a hoax. A 1907 letter published in a Logan, Utah newspaper claimed that two men had seen the Bear Lake behemoth attack their camp and kill one of their horses, a four-year-old claimed to see it in 1937, and a Boy Scout leader spoke of seeing it in 1946. The last reported sighting of the monster was in June 2002, when Bear Lake business owner Brian Hirsch claims to have seen the monster.
The monster has become a part of local folklore, partly due to sporadic sightings and partly in jest. For years a Bear Lake Monster Boat—a tourist boat shaped to look like a green lake monster—offered a 45-minute scenic cruise of Bear Lake with folklore storytelling.Another self-parody that the locals have done is to fill a float in the local Raspberry Days parade with local children and label it “The Real Bear Lake Monsters.”
The Bear Lake monster also appears in Animal Planet's "Lost Tapes", drama series, in which it is depicted as similar to a crocodile or a mosasaur. Lost Tapes also states that in one legend Pecos Bill fought the monster for days until he finally defeated the creature. The show also included a group of girls who were staying over in tents beside the lake being attacked. Most recently the search for this creature was the subject of SyFy Channel's Haunted Highway Season 1, Episode 1 (2012) "Bear Lake Beast; Verges Hairy Man."
The Bear Lake Monster that apparently lives in Bear Lake Utah. The Bear Lake Monster story was written in 1868 by Joseph C. Rich of which it was sent to the newspapers. Here is part of what was published “the Indians have a tradition concerning a strange, serpent-like creature inhabiting the waters of Bear Lake, which they say carried off some of their braves many moons ago. Since then, they will not sleep close to the lake. Neither will they neither swim in it, nor let their squaws nor papooses bathe in it.
Now, it seems this water devil, as the Indians called it, has again made an appearance. A number of our white settlers declare they have seen it with their own eyes. This Bear Lake Monster, they now call it, is causing a great deal of excitement up here. S. M. Johnson at South Eden was riding along near the Lake the other day when he saw something a number of yards out in the lake which he thought was the body of a man. He waited for the waves to wash it in, but to his surprise, found the water washed over it without causing it to move. Then he saw it had a head and neck like some strange animal. On each side of the head were ears, or bunches the size of a pint cup. He concluded the body must be touching the bottom of the lake. By this time, however, Johnson seems to have been leaving the place so rapidly he failed to observe other details.
The next day three women and a man saw a monstrous animal in the lake near the same place, but this time it was swimming at an incredible speed. According to their statement, it was moving faster than a horse could run.”
What does the Bear Lake Monster look like? Well the description of the Bear Lake Monster which has been sighted in Bear Lake Utah is as follows: A creature which ranges in size from 40 to 200 feet long. Its head was shaped like a walrus without tusks or like an alligator’s, and the eyes were very large and wide apart. It had ears like bunches, about the size of a pint cup. It had an unknown number of legs, eighteen inches long and it found walking on land difficult but in the water there’s claims of the monster reaching speeds of 60mph.
In recent years however this Bear Lake Monster is more of a tourist attraction than anything else. Tourists come hoping to see a glimpse of the legendary Bear Lake Monster however the last claimed sighting was in 2004.
Even though Joseph C. Rich admits to making the creature up in the story, people have still claimed to have seen the monster all describing similarities of the monster. Even to this very day tourists are visiting Bear Lake Utah just for this reason to spot the Bear Lake Utah Monster. Why not come to Bear Lake Utah and see if you can get a glimpse of the mythical monster.
Utah Ghost Story Edit
If you travel to Bear Lake in Utah on a quiet day, you just might catch a glimpse of the Bear Lake Monster. The monster looks like a huge brown snake and is nearly 90 feet long. It has ears that stick out from the side of its skinny head and a mouth big enough to eat a man. According to some, it has small legs and it kind of scurries when it ventures out on land. But in the water - watch out! It can swim faster than a horse can gallop - makes a mile a minute on a good day. Sometimes the monster likes to sneak up on unwary swimmers and blow water at them. The ones it doesn't carry off to eat, that is.
A feller I heard about spotted the monster early one evening as he was walking along the lake. He tried to shoot it with his rifle. The man was a crack shot, but not one of his bullets touched that monster. It scared the heck out of him and he high tailed it home faster than you can say Jack Robinson. Left his rifle behind him and claimed the monster ate it.
Sometimes, when the monster has been quiet for a while, people start saying it is gone for good. Some folks even dredge up that old tale that says how Pecos Bill heard about the Bear Lake monster and bet some cowpokes that he could wrestle that monster until it said uncle. According to them folks, the fight lasted for days and created a hurricane around Bear Lake. Finally, Bill flung that there monster over his shoulder and it flew so far it went plumb around the world and landed in Loch Ness, where it lives to this day.
Course, we know better than that. The Bear Lake Monster is just hibernating-like. Keep your eyes open at dusk and maybe you'll see it come out to feed. Just be careful swimming in the lake, or you might be its next meal!