Located in the most northwestern corner in the U.S. in the Olympic National Park of Washington, Lake Crescent is nestled in like a gorgeous gem. This area has been inhabited by two native tribes, the Klallam and the Quileute, for thousands of years.
How this lake came to be, is part of their history and a legend that has been passed down through storytellers in these tribes. It says that the two tribes were fighting at the foot of a big mountain called, Mount Storm King. Mount Storm King didn’t like that they were fighting so he threw a giant boulder at the tribes. This boulder landed at the opening to the river. Cutting off this access is what caused the water level to rise, creating this insanely deep lake.
Later, when a telephone line was placed across the lake, readings were taken that showed 1000 feet; possibly more. One local lake biologist, believes it to be around 650 feet deep. Which is deep enough to cover the entire Space Needle. So, still very deep.
The depth of this lake makes it moody. Some days it is perfectly calm, while others it turns into a churning, white capped beast.
Another horrific story involves a waitress named Hallie Latham Illingworth, who worked in a bar near the lake. She was married to Monty Illingworth, a beer truck driver. Monty never stopped being a ladies man and turned abusive towards his wife. Just a few months after they were married, police responded to a domestic disturbance between the two. She was constantly showing up at work battered and bruised.
In 1937, Hallie disappeared without a trace. Monty claimed that she had run off with another man. Monty found another woman and left the area to move to California. Three years later, Hallie’s body was found floating in the lake.The fishermen who found her, got the surprise of their lives. When they tried to pull her corpse into their boat, her flesh slipped off like a softened bar of soap. Which is essentially what she had turned into. The alkalinity of the water along with the pressure worked a chemical process on the fatty acids in her body, turning her into a soap-like substance. This process is called saponification.
The extreme cold temperature of the water prevented her body from decomposing, so she was the same size as she was when she went in. The saponification made her nearly three times lighter, though. So, when the ropes disintegrated, she floated up.
Her face and fingertips were basically melted away, but she was still able to be identified by her dental records. Hallie’s husband, Monty, was brought back to Washington and charged with the death of his wife. He had beaten and strangled her to death before weighing down her body and tossing her into the depths of the lake.
A Quileute storyteller passes along a story of the mist on the lake, which she learned from her grandfather.
They believe, that when a person passes away all of the good parts move on, leaving all the negativity behind. Along with anything that would cause unbalance in the beyond. This darkness that’s left behind, is known as Tsiyatko. The Quileute believe that the mist hovering above the lake are the angry spirits, the Tsiyatko, trying to move on.
The locals claim that sometimes, when the mood is right, you can see the spirits of the three who tragically died here, wandering around the lake. So, when you go to hike the 8 mile trail around this mysterious lake, remember it’s history and keep an eye out for wandering spirits and strange mist.