Bear Lake Monster
Folks here don’t talk much about Big-Foot, Yeti, or even the famous Loch Ness Monster. For better or worse, it’s the Bear Lake Monster that captures most of the attention around Bear Lake. Fact or fiction? Reality or myth? You decide. There’s plenty of evidence to back up your own personal belief.
Joseph C. Rich, an early Mormon colonizer in the Bear Lake area, spread word of a magnificent beast, gigantic (around fifty feet long) and mystical. It was a sea-faring serpent-like creature that lived in the deep recesses of Bear Lake, fearsome, yet notoriously shy and timid… and difficult to track. He repeated second-hand stories of encounters with the great beast, and the stories spread like wildfire.
According to Wikipedia, “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 when they visited the area on preaching tours, took the opportunity 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…seen in the lake’ and found that they declared that 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” that they (the locals) 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].’ Interest was high enough that at one point even LDS Church president Brigham Young decided to investigate the claims to find out whether the story was ‘an honest tale of a serpent, or only a fish story’ and went as far as sending a large rope to Paris, Idaho to aid in capturing the monster.” Perhaps Young wanted to meet ‘his cousin’. Interestingly Rich later recanted all his stories.
Wikipedia continues, “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…However, in recent years the monster is considered to be a tourist attraction. The last reported sighting of the monster was in 2002.
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 Garden City, Utah Raspberry Days parade with local children and label (their entry as) ‘The Real Bear Lake Monsters’…During the 1996 Raspberry Days, held in Garden City, a competition was organized to have local school children name the leviathan. The judges decided on the name ‘Isabella’, which had been submitted by an eight-year-old girl.”
SOURCE Wikipedia 2018