Monthly Archives: October 2012

Birth of a monster.

Frankenstein is a monster.

He’s a monster created in a book by Mary Shelley about bringing the dead to life through a gruesome experiment (first published in London, 1818 and France, 1823).

“But is Frankenstein real?” you might ask.

Perhaps you should ask one of a thousand kids trick-or-treating this year who chooses to masquerade as the Frankenstein monster. Or maybe you should measure the level of fright and curiosity generated by the book, the classic movie and numerous spin-offs. You’d have to conclude that whether he ever actually existed in the flesh, he is certainly real—and therefore exists.

About the same time period, across the wild west of North America, another monster story was being told near Bear Lake, on what is now the Utah-Idaho border.

The first record of whites seeing the lake is from 1818 when French-Canadian trappers working for the North West Company followed the Bear River upstream to the valley. Later, between 1825 and 1840, many mountain men, including Jedediah Smith and Jim Bridger, met on the south shore with Native Americans to swap goods and stories. One story that was told was about the legendary lake monster. (Source: Wikipedia)

This is the first known telling of stories about a lake monster in Bear Lake. Of course, the now infamous Bear Lake Monster would produce many more stories in the years to come. The most notable stories were made famous by settler Joseph C. Rich, the first published in 1868 in the Deseret News.

The Indians say there is a monster animal which lives in the Lake that has captured and carried away Indians while in the Lake swimming; but they say it has not been seen by them for many years, not since the buffalo inhabited the valley. They represent it as being of the serpent kind… (published 8-5-1868)

Like Frankenstein, this monster is alive and well today. Whether it actually swam through the depths of Bear Lake a century ago is irrelevant. Some descriptions have it at 40 feet in length, others at 200 feet. It has been reported to be both a brown or green color. The legs are described as just a few smaller legs to legs that covered its entire body. It’s been compared to a serpent, an alligator, a snake, and a walrus.

But it’s not how you picture the Bear Lake Monster, but the fact that you do that makes it exist. This blog is dedicated to telling the stories of the Bear Lake Monster and other fascinating stories surrounding Bear Lake.

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