Columbia River’s Colossal Claude

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The Columbia River, the largest river in the Pacific Northwest, divides Washington and Oregon before emptying into the Pacific Ocean.  By volume, it is the fourth largest river in the United States. The Columbia River has many species of fish, especially salmon.  It is also the home of the sea monster, Colossal Claude.

(images:austingranger/flickr) Columbia River

Columbia River

The monster was first reported starting in the 1930s.  In 1934, First Mate L.A.Larson made the first reported sighting.  Larson described the monster as being forty feet long with a neck over eight feet long.  He had a big, round body and a evil, snaky head.  The sighting was corroborated by many crewmen aboard the Columbia River Lightship who watched the creature with binoculars.  Similar reporting happened over the next twenty years by local fishermen.

Shortly after the sighting by L.A. Larson, the creature was described as fifty foot long and resembling a Plesiosaur.  More information came out that the creature had a long neck and tail.  He also had a horse like head.  Fishermen described Colossal Claude as being long, hairy and tan colored.  He constantly raided their lines and broke through nets.

In 1937, Charles E. Graham, skipper of commercial fishing trawler Viv, expanded that the creature had a four foot waist with the head of an overgrown horse.  Similarly, in 1939, the Argo, a halibut fishing ship, saw Colossal Claude rear up over ten feet of water.  He was located just ten feet from the hull of the ship.  The crew watched as the creature attentively ate fish.  They described the creature as having the head of a camel with fur that was course and grey.  He had glassy eyes and a bent snout.  They hurried away from the creature in terror, knowing that a simple nudge could send them to the bottom of the ocean.



The sightings were common through the 1950s, but most slowed down after that time.  In 1963, Shell Oil Company saw the fifteen foot animal during an oil search.  Rumor has it that they even got the sighting on tape.  During a viewing, Colossal Claude got a second nickname, Marvin the Monster.  Adding to the standing description, they indicated the creature had barnacled ridges and swam in over 180 feet of water.

No recorded sightings occurred until 1989.  That year, a fishing crew was dragging a net when it snagged and could not be released.  The snag even started to pull the bow of the ship downward into the water.  Captain Donald Riswick finally pulled the net in and found a hole in the net.  The net was several hundred feet long and being dragged at thirty feet deep.  It was several feet across and was attributed to the giant serpent.

The Riswick spotting was the end of the reported sightings in the local area.  Rumor has it that the creature moved on to other parts of the Columbia River or the Pacific Ocean.  Some say Colossal Claude is a jelly fish species, others argue that he is a leftover from the prehistoric era.  No one knows what type of cryptid Colossal Claude is.  Like the Yeti, Bigfoot, or the Loch Ness Monster, science has yet to prove or disprove Claude’s existence.

Megan Borchert
Megan Borchert
Lover of all things unusual, Megan is a staff attorney for the state of South Dakota. When she's not stuffed in an office writing case synopses, you can find her at home with her army of Schnauzers, snuggled up with some strong wine and a good book.

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