In the US state of New York, there is a lake system of eleven long, narrow, and deep reservoirs called the Finger Lakes. The largest of them is Lake Seneca, with a depth of 188 meters. One incident from the end of the 19th century describes an incident involving the Lake Seneca Monster.
The Lake Seneca Monster Of New York
This lake has a very rich history and was revered by the local Indians long before the arrival of white settlers. There were legends that it is bottomless and that a “fierce beast” lives there.
These legends are mostly considered to be just folklore, but a very real story that happened in the late 19th century indicates that the legends probably had a very definite basis.
On July 14, 1899, a small paddle steamer “Otetiani” crossed Lake Seneca, carrying many passengers. At about 7 pm boatswain Frederick Rose and Captain Carlton S. Herendine noticed something large and dark on the surface of the water, about 365 meters ahead of the steamer.
As they approached a little closer, the object appeared to them to be “an inverted boat, 15 feet (4.5 meters) long, with a very sharp prow and a long, narrow stern.” Deciding that a tragedy could have happened here, the steamer slowed down and changed course a little in order to get close to the “boat” and start saving drowning people, if there are any.
And when they were already preparing to lower the boat from the steamer, the “inverted boat” suddenly sailed away, and deliberately kept in a certain direction, and not as if it were being driven by wind and waves.
The bewildered captain Herendine steered the steamer after the “boat”, and in an instant realized that it was not a wrecked sailing vessel, but a living creature, because the front narrow part of the “boat” suddenly opened, showing “two rows of sharp white teeth”:
“It was actually about twenty-five feet long (7.6 meters), with a long tail that tapered to about five feet from the end when it widened and looked very much like a whale’s tail. The creature weighed about 1,000 pounds (450 kg).
Its head was about 4 feet long (120 cm) and triangular in shape. Its mouth was very long and armed with two rows of triangular white teeth, sharp like those of a shark, but shaped more like the teeth of a sperm whale.
His body was covered in a thick, horny substance that looked like a tortoise shell. This horny substance was brown in color with a greenish tint. The belly of the creature, which I saw after the carcass began to sink under the water, was creamy white in color. Its eyes were round like a fish’s, and it didn’t blink.”
Captain Herendine was so filled with adrenaline when he saw this creature that he was completely “blown away” and he ordered to speed up the steamer in order to “ram the monster”. At the same time, he also said to prepare life-saving equipment, as he suspected that not only the monster itself could suffer from a ram.
An article published a few days later in the Washington Weekly Post described what happened next:
“The ship moved away for some distance and turned around, and then tried to ram the creature. The captain signaled to go at full speed ahead, and in a moment the Otetiani rushed at the monster. Everyone on deck watched the creature with bated breath.
As the ship approached, the monster looked at the boat and dived under the water so that the ship passed right over it. Some passengers stated that they could see the dark outline of the creature’s body in the water.
Then the steamer prepared to continue its journey along the route, but then one woman suddenly cried out, “That’s it!” and everyone looked there and saw that this creature had come to the surface. It was 50 yards from the steamer, almost exactly where it dived.
The captain ordered the steamer to be turned around and started ramming again, but now, instead of trying to hit the creature directly, the steamer was turned so that the starboard paddle wheel hit it about midway between the head and tail.
The ship was moving forward at full speed, and this time the monster did not pay attention to it. There was a dull thud, which everyone heard and felt, the steamer hit the target.
The force of the impact was such that the passengers were scattered across the deck, and the steamer nearly capsized. But the crew held him back.
“For a moment, during which everyone wondered what would happen next, there was no sound on board, except for the operation of the engine. Then the people on board applauded, and some of them recovered from their fright. The monster lay next to the ship with a hole in its side. He raised his head, made a sound like a sigh, and fell silent, his spine was broken and he was dead.
They lowered a boat from the steamer, drove it to the carcass and began to stick hooks with ropes into it in order to lift the carcass on board. All the people helped to pull out the monster. The carcass was already free of water when the rope near the tail slipped and the tail fell into the water. After that, the weight of the other rope became so great that it began to slip out of the hands of those who held it.
As a result, people were forced to let go of the ropes and the carcass fell into the water. As soon as the body touched the water, it began to sink and disappeared into the depths. In the place where she sank, the depth of the lake exceeds 600 feet (182 meters), and, as is well known, the bodies of people who drowned in this part of the lake never again float to the surface.
Prior to that, at least a few reliable people who had no habit of inventing or exaggerating had had a good look at the monster’s carcass, including Albert L. Fowl and D.W. Hallenbeck, two public works officials, as well as George C. Schell, police commissioner; Fred S. Bronson, manager of the Geneva Telephone Company; Charles E. Kuhn, Philadelphia business salesman; and Professor George R. Elwood, a geologist from Guelph, Ontario.
When articles about this incident were distributed in American newspapers, there was much discussion about who this creature could be. Elwood, one of the eyewitnesses, believed that it was something from an extinct prehistoric genus of Clidastes, large sea lizards from the mosasaur family.
He suggested that a group of these creatures could successfully hide in the underwater caves and tunnels that dot the bottom of Lake Seneca.
Other theories were that it was some kind of whale, giant fish, turtle, or animal completely unknown to science. Alas, since then no news about this creature from Seneca has been received. Maybe that monster was the last of its kind.
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