What’s Floating in Flathead Lake?

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Flathead Lake

In 1889, James C. Kerr directed the happenings on the U.S. Grant steamboat just like any other day.  Little did he know that the fateful day would be the first sighting of one of Flathead Lake’s most terrifying inhabitants.  He and his crew saw what looked like a log approaching the ship.  As it got closer, they saw what appeared to be a giant, whale looking creature heading quickly their way.  After firing a few shots at the beast, the ship was quickly maneuvered away from the giant.

(images:70267096@N00/flickr) Flathead Lake

(images:[email protected]/flickr) Flathead Lake

Since that time, there has been an average of one to two sightings every year.  The sightings all report spotting a giant animal in the Flathead Lake, located in northwest Montana, on the southern tip of the Rocky Mountain Trench.  The water body is the largest natural fresh water lake in the western United States.  It is twenty eight miles long, sixteen miles wide, and up to three hundred seventy feet deep.  Two rivers flow into the lake, the Flathead River and the Swan River.  Something else flows under the churning waters- the Flathead Lake Monster.

Sometimes compared to the Loch Ness Monster, the Flathead Lake Monster is described as a long, eel shaped creature with a round body like a snake.  Some have said a giant eel like creature with a bowling ball head.  He is twenty to forty feet long and has has been described to have features similar to a giant sturgeon or a whale.  Variances in color appear from brown and blue-black on his body and he has grey, almost black eyes.  Some have specifically mentioned seeing humps as the creature reached out of the water or broke the surface of the lake.

The comparison of the Flathead Lake Monster to sturgeons was a theory that became especially popular in the 1950s.  Sturgeons can grow to be over ten feet long and may even be described as having prehistoric looking features.  Many speculated that the lake monster was an overgrown sturgeon.  Some local groups even offered cash rewards for sturgeons caught out of Flathead Lake.  One man came forward in 1955 with a seven foot, six inch white sturgeon.  The monster fish weighed over one hundred and eighty pounds.

(images:regularweirdo/flickr)

(images:regularweirdo/flickr)

Sightings continued pretty regularly over the history of Flathead Lake.  However, in 1993, there were thirteen reported sightings of the Flathead Lake Monster.  On May 24, 1993, two monsters were spotted gliding through the water together.  One was noted to be much larger than the other, leading reporters to believe that it was a male and female couple or a mother and her child.

On July 13, 1993, off Woods Bay, there was actual footage of the beast captured.  The report included information regarding a large dark shape about twelve feet long, lurking just below the surface.  Some indicated the Flathead Lake Monster had a sturgeon like head and an eel body.  The creature was spotted again on July 15, 1993.  This time, there were two sightings only twenty five minutes apart and fifteen miles apart.  The next spotting was July 17, 1993.  These sightings were a half a day apart.  Although sightings have continued, they have slowed.  One of the most recent recorded sightings was in 2005.

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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